The University of Iowa University of Iowa

Iowa City’s Music Scene: A “Fresh” Perspective

Photo by Colin Peterson

By Mitch MacQueen

About a month ago I was asked by KRUI to write a monthly article/blog about being a small, misguided freshman and my exploration through the Iowa City music scene. Filled with excitement, due to the fact that people actually acknowledged my existence in my first week of college, I accepted (even though I did not even know there was such a thing as a music scene in Iowa City). But, before I begin, it would probably be helpful if you knew who I am.

My name is Mitch MacQueen and I’m from Sutton, Massachussetts. I came to Iowa because I wanted to try something new and escape mean New Englanders (plus the University is pretty sick, and they had everything I wanted to study). But if you ask my dad, he’ll just tell you that I came here because I’m some misguided Yankee. Growing up outside of the Boston/Worcester music scene was pretty amazing. Whatever music you were into, be it Kurt Cobain, there was probably a scene for you. Although some of the best bands in the country come out of my area, it does have its downsides. Unfortunately, the scene has recently been littered with too much straight-edge hardcore bullshit, unoriginal three-chord progression influenced pop-punk, and just terrible screamo bands that possibly don’t have any actual lyrics in their songs.

Leaving Massachusetts was a relief to say the least. Although I haven’t really explored the Iowa City music scene at all, I can already tell you that it’s much better than Massachusetts. Walking downtown on my first Friday in Iowa City, I was relieved and somewhat in shock to not see any straight-edge assholes trying to pick fights outside music venues, but the amount of Black and Gold in town is a bit overwhelming and intimidating. So Iowa City was already looking very promising.

Although I am not at all qualified to review music, nor do I consider myself an expert on music, the people at KRUI have some confidence in me documenting my exploration of the Iowa City music scene. I hope I can do the Iowa City some justice and I am very excited to begin my journey.

Caroline Smith and the Goodnight Sleeps: Midwest Sound, Majestic Beauty, and the Moronic 21 Ordinance

Max and Kendall at KRUI emailed me at the beginning of the week telling me that the band Caroline Smith and The Goodnight Sleeps would be coming to Iowa City on Saturday.  Obviously I was stoked to hear from them, but I was more excited by the fact that something besides emails about my U-Bill were in my inbox. I responded that I would totally be up for interviewing them in an in-studio session and going to their show on Saturday. Never really hearing of them before I spent all week on YouTube and in the gym preparing myself to meet and hear them. For those who don’t know, Caroline is a total babe so I obviously had to be knowledgeable about her music and ready to show off my 4 days’ worth of about 65 push-ups.

I prepared myself to write this article as well. Thinking of ways of how to poetically, wittingly, and craftily put together an article, I was already thinking up ideas for describing my first show in Iowa City.

By the time Saturday rolled around, I was all ready. When I got to the studio I received a brief training on how not to mess up during the interview and how to avoid breaking the control board. Honestly though, all of that went over my head because I was more concerned with making sure the part in my hair was perfect in order to impress Caroline. When they walked into the studio the entire band were some of the nicest people ever and were all very down to earth. But I’m not going to lie, I could care less about the rest of the band. I was more attracted to the fact that Caroline sat next to me, no big deal or anything. The entire session though was so great. Words can’t really describe it; rather, the actual videos and stream of the show on this website explain it much better than I could.

After the interview, I geared up to experience the actual Iowa City music scene. The show was at 9 p.m. at the Mill. Walking over there, I was incredibly stoked for some reason. Maybe it was the fact that I could actually feel comfortable out here compared to the East Coast where there are assholes who try to start fights at literally every show. Or it may have been that the “accidental” brush of hands with Caroline still had me a little flustered. Whatever reason it was, I was pumped up and ready to see the show.

Now, I would love to describe the show. I would love to say how all the bands that played were so great. How I was just so enthralled by the show and that Iowa City is the place for music. How I was captivated by Caroline’s voice that resonated throughout the Midwestern bar. How everything went right when Caroline winked at me. How all the words for this article were magically put together for this article that a matter of three people would read. But no. None of that happened. None of that happened because when I approached the door and handed the man in front my identification which stated “Massachusetts Under 21 Driver’s License,” I got big red X’s marked on my hand. This was then followed with a pleasant “You have to be out by 10 PM.”

Now, in Massachusetts they don’t have this ordinance. I have never been told that I have to leave by a certain time. Almost every show is open for all ages and the only reason they mark your hands is so they know not to serve you alcohol. But apparently in Iowa City they thought it would be smart to have this ordinance be put in place. Because obviously this is going to stop drinking. Because obviously instead of being in a bar which has some form of supervision, kids won’t go off to dangerous parties at people’s houses they don’t know to go drink.

But that’s not the point. The point is that this ordinance is literally killing the Iowa City music scene for kids my age. Having a show that doesn’t actually start until 9:30 with three acts, with the main act going on last, which also costs eight dollars is pretty ridiculous. I can just tell that kids my age don’t go to shows because I was probably the only freshman in there. I’m sorry, but this was one of the most disappointing and stupid things I have ever encountered.

I’m going to stop this article here because I’m afraid I might say something I might regret. On a final note though, Caroline, if you happen to read this, I am single and I’m almost certain that “accidental” hand brush was not an accident at all.

2 responses to “Iowa City’s Music Scene: A “Fresh” Perspective

  1. Hey Kendall, thanks for the article. Good band. Yes that rule sucks, don’t be afraid to say ‘something you might regret’. My guess is people not saying that is the reason things don’t change. Adults don’t have the answers.

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