2012 – A Year in Concerts

Datagun‘s final show
The Vaudeville Mews, Des Moines, Iowa

June 20th

This band had to break up because Craig Eley moved to D.C. It’s a shame I couldn’t find any live video footage of them with proper audio. While there is a prominent post-punk influence they have a little of a goth sound, but it’s not until you see them play live and you realize it’s three handsome men who all sing and sing well. Craig plays with a smile the entire time, you can’t get any more charming than that.

Cleo’s Apartment final show
   The Vaudeville Mews, Des Moines, Iowa.

March 3rd

Since 1998 we were graced with the ever so eclectic band Cleo’s Apartment. Is there a genre that’s both trip-hop and jazz, trip-jazz? Ah, ten years. That’s a long time and they went out with a crowded house. I believe three bands played before they did and they didn’t get on stage until around midnight or it might have even been 1AM. By that time crowds usually have died down and most people are drunk, but the audience was packed and still alive. They played the show like they were at Madre Gras. Shit, I forgot it was even March. I thought it was New Year’s Eve. Front woman, Crystal Fields is just as fun to speak with as it was to watch her sing.


 DG’s Taphouse in Ames, Iowa.


I didn’t take any photos with my phone during this concert so this is Tires at Wooly’s and Trouble Lights performing inside an abandoned school at Sensory Overload. This was one hell of a line-up with Mickey Davis playing his music in between sets. It was my first time seeing Nate Logsdon as Beefcake. If I were a man who liked girls I would have been turned on by Beefcake’s sultry dancing. TiRES never sounded better. They played a couple of tracks that featured Claire Kruesel and Amy Badger at a soft volume. Their distinct voices haunted over TiRES’ digital and live instruments. Unless you listened very carefully you couldn’t make out the lyrics which is why I enjoy electronic music. I don’t always want lyrics to take over a song. Sometimes it’s best to have the rhythm and melody tell me what to feel. Trouble Lights topped off the night with their super catchy songs and the ever-so-fun to watch Adrien Daller. Secret note: I like to watch Adrien and Nate when they’re not on stage genuinely enjoying each other’s company. Best pairing of 2012 amirite? If you ever have the opportunity to see a line up of the S!E!C! do it.
Joseph Mayfield of Surgery singing into Beefcake’s eyes:


80/35 Des Moines, IA

July 8th

Boy do I love great percussions. Dan was somewhere out of sight while two sets of drums were on the stage. Guy was better live than on his albums. I couldn’t help, but dance along on my sprained ankle. He exceeded all of my expectations. I don’t even have words to describe how that was. In fact, here just witness a clip from the show.
First Ave, Minneapolis, MN

May 2nd

You know an artist is good when the audience’s age ranges between 21-50 and you’re not the only one tearing up. I don’t think I remember seeing a band play that long of a set since Broken Social Scene in 2008. Jason doesn’t MC his concerts either. He plays song after song after song. It was well worth the round-trip drive to the cities.
The Gas Lamp, Des Moines, IA

April 8th

Guitar Wolf’s lyrics don’t make sense and that’s what makes it better. I think I got vertigo after this show from how loud it was. Have you ever been to a No Age show? Guitar Wolf is twice as loud. The Gaslamp cleared out the tables expecting there to be some moshing, but everyone was pretty much just in awe while one 40ish super fan danced in front of the stage. Best part of their show was when the lead singer told us he loved us and flicked sweat from his forehead with his fingers. Second best part was after the show outside when he tried to walk through a door that was there for decoration. You know, like how sometimes there are pockets on pants that aren’t really pockets or a window without a view. Guitar Wolf gives 300% at shows and I think the drummer was bleeding by the end of it. Mmm, bleeding drummers.
Zeke’s, Ames, IA

April 28th

My favorite band I discovered this year and if they lived in Iowa I would go see them as often as a possible. Their compositions are complicated and enjoyable to listen to. The thing I hate about some modern classical artists is when they go pop and do pop covers to draw in a wider audience. Move over David Garrett, you’ve got nothing on Lucas Shogren. Most times I don’t like drums with strings, but they make it sound good. Though they claim to play sad songs, you feel energized from watching them. Another great thing about this band is that they’re good grounded people that do a lot of work with schools. I took my pre-teen daughter to this concert who hates everything. A quote from her, “They were better than that other band we saw last week.” You know a band is good when my daughter likes them. When she was four Bette Midler was playing on the radio in the car. From the backseat a baby voice yelled, “Shut it off!” Clocks & Clouds played at our Torture Survivors’ Benefit concert at the Bombay Bicycle Club. They had young kids and bikers buying their E.P, after the show, but I feel bad because sound-wise the BBC wasn’t the right venue to properly hear how great they are.
The Granada, Lawrence, KS

July 14th

Liars went more electronic with their new album WIXIW so they had a more calm show. I love these guys. All of their albums have a different sound, but you know it’s still them. I met a 15-yr-old girl at the show there with her dad. They told me she was 12 though which I thought was pretty cool. I gave her a booster lift onto the stage to grab a drum stick. Chatted with the band after the show and it seemed like I was just talking with a band from Iowa. They signed my LP and gave me their set list.
The Films of John C. Reilly
Mantis Pincers
Derek Lambert and the Prairie Fires
The Vaudeville Mews, Des Moines, IA

April 7th

The Films of John C. Reilly reunited with entirely new members for Clint’s 40th birthday. You know Clint as the skinny guy in a white t-shirt serving you drinks and as Creepy Morgue Guy in Blade, but that night Clint was someone else and somewhere else inside that mind of his. He was the star of the stage who went shirtless through most of the show and talked some of the crowd into going shirtless as well. I received some bad news after their set, had to leave, but returned in time to catch the end of Mantis Pincers. Most of the audience had already left, but in my opinion Mantis Pincers sounded the best.

Notable mentions, Love Songs for Lonely Monsters. I ran into Amy, a friend from back in the Hugh’s Jungle Room days and started going to her shows. I can’t pick out just one show of their’s that I enjoyed because I saw them play so many times this past year. There’s something truly special about this band. Best part is that not all of their songs sound the same. Each song is unique.
Jordan Mayland should also be mentioned for the 30 bands he’s in and for the sweetness of his falsetto. My favorite is when he performs solo. Check him out playing at the Vaudeville Mews on his 31st birthday in April.
If you ever see that the Autumn Project is playing a live show, you should check them out too.
While writing this blog I realized how many shows I attended after a break-up or a death and how the music helped my heart be somewhere else even if briefly. Thanks musicians, for your passion and in helping heal my spirit. Here’s to more music in 2013. Keeyah!

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