Anyone who has ever said that nothing cool happens in Iowa has obviously never been to the 80/35 Music Festival. Held in the heart of downtown Des Moines on July 6-7, 80/35 brings two full days of music, art, and general merriment to our very own Midwestern Mecca. Now in its 5th year, the festival has presented artists like Modest Mouse, The Flaming Lips, and Girl Talk to over 30,000 audience members annually, with such big names as Death Cab for Cutie, The Avett Brothers, Dinosaur Jr., and KRUI Low Frequency alum Dan Deacon gracing the lineup this summer.
Perhaps the greatest thing about 80/35, though, is the number of local and regional acts that can be found alongside these nationally-acclaimed artists – in fact, 22 of the groups performing at the festival hail from right here in Iowa. Here are a few talented locals that you should be sure not to miss:
Iowa City natives Dead Larry have been perfecting their unique blend of funk, dance, and psychedelic rock for many years. Now based in Minneapolis, the band has amassed a devoted fan base due in large part to its intriguingly energetic live shows – or, more accurately, dance parties. With Dead Larry’s funky jams sounding better than ever, even the most timid of wallflowers will be grooving at this show.
With her dynamic stage presence, bedazzled wardrobe, and unparalleled dance moves, Leslie Hall and her band, the LY’s, have been captivating audiences across the country for the past 10 years. The brainchild of Ames’ Hall, the group has featured members of a number of talented Iowa ensembles (including fellow 80/35 performers Christopher the Conquered), all of whom have helped to create the band’s distinctive mixture of dance, hip hop, and tongue-in-cheek humor. Make sure to catch this entertaining act – and don’t forget your gem sweater.
Though Fairfield, IA, the hometown of electro-rock group Little Ruckus, is also home to one of the nation’s much-talked-about schools of Transcendental Meditation, Little Ruckus’ music is decidedly un-Zen – in the best way possible. Frontman Dom Rabalais (who also serves as one half of Utopia Park) and his band craft a frenzied, power-pop sound full of lively chanting and keyboard-banging greatness – along with some costumed acrobatics. As the name suggests, Little Ruckus is sure to cause a scene – an enjoyably sweaty one, at that.
If you like your rock shows with some explosively energetic jam sessions and theatrical on-stage antics, look no further than Mumford’s. With its keyboards, guitars, and horn section, the Ames-based band infuses alternative rock with elements of ska and punk, along with a few choreographed dance moves. Fresh off a performance at this year’s South By Southwest festival, Mumford’s is sure to put on a lively show – just be prepared to do your fair share of jumping around.
If you’re looking to relax a bit after all of the aforementioned jumping and dancing, Pieta Brown’s set is sure to do the trick. The Iowa City-born singer-songwriter, who has performed with such musical greats as Emmylou Harris, Neko Case, and Ani DiFranco, will entrance audiences with her critically-acclaimed blend of blues, alt-country, and folk. Get ready to fall in love, as Pieta Brown will surely have you swooning with her sultry vocals and beautiful musicianship.
For more information on these and all of the awesome artists performing at 80/35 this summer, visit http://80-35.com/. Wanna win tickets to the festival? Tune in to KRUI on Friday (6/29) from 10 AM – 12 PM, Sunday (7/1) from 10 PM – 12 AM, and Monday (7/2) from 6 PM – 8 PM for a chance to win one of three pairs of 80/35 passes!