I got life pretty much the way I want it.
It's been a longer while than usual since I saw a show around here. But I did see one in NYC last weekend, when my wife and I made a quick trip back to visit some of our favorite people and places; I wrote about that gig here. It was this teenage band from Copenhagen called Iceage, who churn up a wiry, abrasive squall that works just about perfectly on their short 'n' sweet debut. I was possibly going to see them play in Denmark but my passport had expired. Then I was talking about seeing them in Brooklyn but realized it was sold out and I didn't want to over-schedule our trip. When I got the chance to review the show professionally, I figured I must be fated to see this band somehow, right? Anyway, expect to hear their name again.

I did miss a really promising show back in Des Moines, though. Locals Wolves in the Attic were playing the release party for the cassette reissue of Electronic Hearts, their 2009 debut album. The original release (on Iowa City label Mission Freak) came in cut-out copies of old books; the new tape, from Vaudeville Mews booker Ladd Askland's new Red Nude Tapes label, not only nicely suits the band's mixtape-friendly noise pop, it's also lighter to carry around. (I also missed Waxeater, with Police Teeth, the Seed of Something, and Pocket Aristotle.)

But there are still a lot of upcoming live shows worth noting here, including the Des Moines Arts Festival (the Smitheereens, the Envy Corps), the 80/35 Music Festival (among my personal faves are Titus Andronicus, Okkervil River, and Jessica Lea Mayfield), Bright Eyes (who never plays Des Moines), the Strange Boys, Orgone, Colourmusic, Too Short, Snoop Dogg, Explosions in the Sky, Nashville Pussy, Blink-182 with My Chemical Romance, Ames "gypsy punk" band Mumford's album release party (also the debut of vinyl-only label Maximum Ames), and the return doubleheader of local indie kids the Poison Control Center.

What am I missing? Any shows worth driving to in other towns?


Des Moines Arts Festival. The Smithereens, the Envy Corps, and more. Downtown Des Moines. Juen 24-25. All Ages

Peace, Love, and Stuff with Ames' Nuclear Rodeo. Vaudeville Mews. June 25. 21+ $5

Desert Noises with locals the River Monks, Elizabeth Arynn, Dustin Smith. Vaudeville Mews. June 26. 21+ $5

Jack Curtis Dubowsky Ensemble with locals Cleo's Apartment and Electric Universe. Vaudeville Mews. June 27. 21+ $5

Toad the Wet Sprocket. Simon Estes Amphitheater. June 30. All Ages $15/$20


Mumford's album release party (first release on new Ames vinyl label Maximum Ames-- kicks off a five-week national tour!), with fellow Iowa bands Utopia Park, the Wheelers. The Maintenance Shop (Ames). July 1. 

80/35 Music Festival. Girl Talk, Of Montreal, Galactic, Grace Potter and the Nocturnals, Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros, Okkervil River, Titus Andronicus, Karl Denson's Tiny Universe, Handsome Furs, Blackalicious, Jessica Lea Mayfield, the Envy Corps, the Poison Control Center, Cory Chisel, Brother Trucker, Bitch, Gold Motel, Generationals, Parlours, Thankful Dirt, Bear Hands, BBU, WhiteWater Ramble, Yelawolf, NewVillager, the Giving Tree Band, Civil Twilight, Reverend Peytons Big Damn Band, the Workshy, La Strange, Christopher the Conquered, Grinning Match, the Macpodz, Infantree, Pink Mink, Cashes Rivers, Mr. Baber's Neighbors, DCM, Land of Blood and Sunshine, Wolves in the Attic, the Uniphonics, David Zollo & the Body Electric, Love Songs for Lonely Monsters, Wolfgang, the Junkyard Orchestra, Rebel Creek, the Chatty Cathy's. Downtown Des Moines. July 2-3. Price options vary.

The Strange Boys with White Mystery, Marshalltown's Land of Blood and Sunshine, locals Deep Sleep Waltzing. Vaudeville Mews. July 5. 21+ $10

Orgone. Vaudeville Mews. July 6. 21+ $8

Matt Nathanson. Simon Estes Amphitheater. July 14. All Ages $15

Pitchfork Music Festival. Animal Collective, Fleet Foxes, TV on the Radio, many more. Union Park (Chicago). July 15-17. $45 one-day tickets are still available

Iowa's Wrestling With Wolves with locals the New Bodies, the War I Survived. Vaudeville Mews. July 16. 21+ $5

Blitzen Trapper. Blue Moose (Iowa City). July 25. 19+ $13/$15

Snoop Dogg. Val Air Ballroom. July 27. All Ages $35/$40

Colourmusic. Vaudeville Mews. July 27. 21+ $10

Too Short. Club 504. July 30. 21+ $20/$25

Ames' the Poison Control Center, two shows, first with Family Unit, Pocket Aristotle, second with Brighton, Dolfish. Vaudeville Mews. July 30. First show all ages & $7, second show 21+ $7.


Cirrus Minor CD release show with Dead Larry, the Maw. Club 504. Aug. 6. All Ages $10

Bright Eyes. Val Air Ballroom. Aug. 8. All Ages $27.50

Nashville Pussy with Superchief, Controlled Chaos, Invoking Adrian. House of Bricks. Aug. 24. 21+$10/$15


Blink-182 and My Chemical Romance. Wells Fargo Arena. October 8. All Ages $29.50-$55


Explosions in the Sky with Wye Oak. Val Air Ballroom. Oct. 11. All Ages $23/$25


  1. Pretty Lights is playing at Val Air and Widespread Panic in Ames in October. Both are definitely worth checking out.