The University of Iowa University of Iowa

Track Zero: Drifting, Floating, and Ascension with Water From Your Eyes

After several hours out on the Gabe’s patio spent in anticipation of the night’s festivities, the moment to finally enter the venue could not have come soon enough. We made our way up to the stage, and I finally allowed myself to feel some excitement about the coming performances. The flow of people arriving to the show was slow but steady. As our group got ourselves situated the other concert goers filtered in around us. 

There was a tripleheader line-up in store for us, opening with Lou Sherry, a beautiful hodgepodge assortment of dad rockers that sent the small, albeit very eager, crowd drifting by on waves of proggy, jammy magic. The four piece is local to Iowa City, and seems to be a staple amongst the live music enjoyers of the community. The band started off with some slow grooves but by the end of their set had the whole house rocking. I’ll be honest, I had no idea what to expect of the group prior to the show, but the lead singer Denny Richards’ hauntingly droning vocals and the band’s sporadic soloing had entirely charmed me by the end of the set. Needless to say, Lou Sherry has earned a fan base in my friends and I. 

Lou Sherry. Image via John Glab

At this point in the evening the crowd had really begun to fill out, and the excitement for the next two acts awaiting us started feeling even more palpable. With Friko, a Chicago indie rock group with a vast array of sonic influences, next on the bill, I knew the energy would be high enough to carry us through to the final act.

Fellow KRUI staff writer Amman Hassan recounts the performance:

“Friko brought an amazingly noisy and striking performance, just in time to close the spring semester. A night of emotional contrast and celebratory nostalgia, the show had a certain shared passion and communal energy amidst the crowd that reminds you of Iowa’s Hate Week, or when ABBA comes on at senior prom. Friko, in how they dress, act, and sound, present themselves in an incredibly humble manner. That was the impression I got from listening to their latest record Where we’ve been, Where we go from here, and that first impression proved true at Gabe’s. 

The performance felt stripped of the advertising and theatrics that make an artist feel untouchable or larger than life. Instead of being smothered in stage presence, Niko Kapetan’s raw and sincere vocals made it feel like there was no stage at all. It was as if we’d been lifted up to better stare into the soul of the music, being flooded by its presence. We in the audience were all too eager to accept the invitation.

Friko. Image via John Glab

Celebratory thrashing and intimate ballads were met with applause. It felt like we were in a recording of the legendary MTV Unplugged. A performance, so authentic and iconic, it gets reissued live and the venue becomes the place you tell friends *that band* played at. Already a contender for my artist of the year, I’m sure I’m not alone in stating that Niko, David, and Bailey have cemented their place in my musical memory, providing Iowa City with one of the most exciting acts in the indie scene and a great conclusion of many students’ semester at Iowa.”

-Amman Hassan

The night was making itself out to be a long one, but as soon as I heard the opening notes of Water From Your Eyes’ set, the instantly recognizable bassline of “Buy My Product”, I couldn’t help but dance along. Water From Your Eyes is an alternative pop duo made up by vocalist, Rachel Brown, and multi-instrumentalist, Nate Amos. The pair have been putting out music since 2016, and are currently touring their most recent project, Everyone’s Crushed, a punky and experimental take on electronic pop. I’ve been a listener for a little while now, and I was very eager to see how their sound would translate live. 

The atmosphere of WFYE stood in stark contrast to that of the previous shows, at least at first. It felt like an immediate attack on the senses: the lights were brighter, the music was louder, and the room was hotter. The duo was joined by some accompanying musicians, Al Nardo on bass, and Bailey Wollowitz on drums, who both brought depth to the group’s live sound. Wollowitz in particular held my attention captive as drummers frequently do, but the ability to play breakbeats live is something I’ve always deeply admired. 

Rachel Brown and Nate Amos. Image via Anika Maculangan

Throughout the course of WFYE’s set, I alternated from enjoying the communal energy of the crowd, engaging with the music, and retreating to my own mind as the group’s more melodic tracks carried me away. Throughout the duration of “”Quotations””, I couldn’t begin to tell you what was going on around me and in the moment because I couldn’t have cared less. I’m fairly certain I had begun to hum to myself as I was lost in the constantly forever now. During songs like “Barley”, “Out There”, and “True Life”, when my awareness had found me once again, I could feel the electricity pulsing in the crowd. People were dancing, some were even attempting a mosh pit, though I elected to remain planted, just letting the movement happen around me. 

The juxtaposition between the group’s more danceable and experimental cuts, and their softer, almost chamber pop adjacent tunes made for an extremely unique listening experience. The band let their personalities speak for themselves while on stage, as there was always some level of motion occurring, and almost every song was punctuated by a brief but genuine “thank you” from Brown. As the set came to a close and we made our way out of the venue, I felt like I was returning after having been transported a bit. My senses were coming back to me.

The evening concluded with a lovely little chat with the members of Friko over by the merch table, and a walk home with friends recounting the various moments from the shows that we had loved. This was along with a mutual appreciation for drummers and bassists and singers, oh my.