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Mission Creek: Strangers of Necessity and Anthony Worden Thrill at Gabe’s

Strangers of Necessity

Midwest hip-hop duo Strangers of Necessity kicked off Mission Creek’s Friday evening at Gabe’s, bringing a perfect blend of positive energy, precise bars, and smooth production to the festival. The synergy between Iowa City based producer CoryaYo and Chicago rapper Fooch the MC was apparent throughout the set, with CoryaYo’s DJ Premier type beats providing the ideal foil for Fooch’s braggadocious flow. “Punishing rappers like I’m Frank Castle,” he raps on one early song. “Go against Fooch you might lose your nine lives,” he warns on another. Beyond snappy one-liners, he also excelled at interacting with the Mission Creek crowd. “Can I kick it?” he shouts, “Yes you can!” they respond. “Can I kick it?” he shouts again, “Yes you can!” they yell back louder. Fooch’s request to see hands in the air is also enthusiastically received, giving the show a dynamic, interactive feel.

Image via Cat Dooley

Fooch is also cognizant of the night’s other big event in Iowa City. “We’re gonna keep the party going because I know you wanna watch the game and shit,” he says, referencing the much anticipated Final Four basketball match between the Hawkeyes and the University of Connecticut. Fooch even has bars for the occasion: “If I was in college ball I’d be Final Four, but this isn’t my final form” he raps later in the show.

While all their songs sound punchy live, it’s cuts from their 2020 release Vibe Theory that really stand out and get the crowd moving. The easygoing pace of “Fundamental”, which features CoryaYo on the mic, is followed by the huge bass of Vibe Theory opener “Incredible Flow” with Fooch rapping the song’s memorable chorus. “You digging with these vibes we giving?” he asks midway through the show. An enthusiastic ‘Yeah!’ is the resounding response from the crowd. It was Strangers of Necessity’s first Mission Creek appearance, but I certainly hope it won’t be their last.

Anthony Worden

“My name is Anthony Worden and I’m from Iowa City. So psyched you’re here. I love you guys!” Anthony Worden’s first interaction with the Mission Creek crowd underlines his genuine affection for the city, venue, and festival. He’s delighted to be playing Mission Creek at Gabe’s, and wants the crowd to know. Considering he grew up in Cedar Rapids and graduated from the University of Iowa, such a fondness for the region is perhaps expected, but it’s clear Worden’s affinity for Eastern Iowa is fundamental to his personality and music.

Image via Glenn Houlihan

However, Worden’s show is, ironically, the victim of Iowa’s success. His band’s 9:00 PM slot at Gabe’s brutally clashes with the basketball, a cruel twist of fate he’s quick to acknowledge throughout the show. “The question we’re all wondering, who’s winning?” he asks midway through. “Aw man. Fuck UConn man,” he responses when the news isn’t good. Yet this conflict with the match is also a way of galvanizing the people in attendance, those who chose live music over televised sport. “You said no to the mass of people who wanted to watch the basketball,” says Worden proudly, “You just wanna rock! No TVs up here,” he laughs, although there is a mad dash to the screen on the floor below as soon as Worden’s set wraps at 9:30 PM.

Worden’s show is in many ways the product of transition. He has a new band: Joe Shanks on guitar, Lucas Adolphson on bass, and Chloe Weidl on drums. They sounded in perfect sync alongside Worden’s own distinctive vocals and guitar. He also has a new album, Plain Angels coming out on May 10th. Worden describes the album as a product of “work, personal grief, and collaboration. It’s my most personal record and musically my strongest.” This internal confidence shines through in his Mission Creek set, which thrilled the loyal Gabe’s crowd. My only regret was that thirty minutes wasn’t long enough to do justice to his four, soon to be five, albums. If that’s my sole complaint, then it was a damn fine rock show.