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80/35, A Farm-Free Iowa Event

July 8, 2008 - Wes Burns
First off I would like to say that I am sorry for not posting a blog on Firday. Rest assured there was a good reason, something above and beyond my regular pool of lukewarm excuses. I spent Friday, as well as what seemed an interminaly long Saturday, at the 80/35 Festival in Des Moines.

For those of you that were wondering what the extra 30,000 people were doing in down town Des Moines this last weekend 80/35 is a new music festival; so new in fact that this was it's first year. This is one of those projects that Des Moines has been so interested in since they broke out thier new marketing campaign "Des Moines: At Least As International as Minneapolis". 80/35 is the best result of this new direction for our beloved capital, much better than those ridiculous commercials that tried to make the Des Moines Airport look like the waiting room for the United Nations.

For its first year of operation 80/35 is a full fledged festival. Multiple vendors, people with ID badges, overpriced food, and of course exhibitionist freaks; all indicative of a legitimate music festival. But 80/35 wasn't just a traditional music fest; not for International Des Moines. One of the aforementioned "badge wearers" was a good friend of mine; I spotted her at the show early on Friday. She was walking around taking pictures of all the bands which were then going to be placed on such Web 2.0 milestones as Twitter, Flikr, and what I can only assume were a vast and myriad number of MySpace pages.

I'm actually proud of Des Moines for putting on something like this. While I detest the use of the word "Twitter" as a verb I was happy to see Des Moines putting a little more effort into promotion. This is the sort of thing that people will attend en masse, at least the people that are willing to pay $8 for a plate of Seaseme Chicken that you eat while standing.

Since this is the first time I get to blog about a concert I cannot resist but to do a little music criticism. In honor of Des Moines' new Web 2.0 presence I'm going to make these reviews as short and glib as possible. The festival had four stages operating at the same time so I'll give initials for which stage, either the Main Stage (MS), East Stage (ES), West Stage (WS) or the DJ Stage (DJ). Here is the first and more than likely last concert review:


5:00 Des Moines Boys: MS. They were not a rap band, which was a relief.

6:00 Euforquestra: ES. Pretty good, despite confusing name.

7:00 Andrew Bird: MS. I liked it but the Hipster quotient increased tenfold when he came on.

7:15 Diplomats of Solid Sound. ES. These guys were fantastic, professional and a lot of fun.

9:00 The Flaming Lips. MS. They bring a lot of toys.


12:00 Public Property. MS. Reggae band. Lots of hippie dancing. A little too early for me.

12:45 Gaiden Gadema. WS. From the name I was expecting dueling Japanese robots. It was rapping.

1:30 Deanna Devore. WS. This lady knew what she was doing; good backing band too.

2:30 Drive By Truckers. MS. Heat was getting too me. Don't really remember much of them except they didn't seem nearly "trucker-y" enough.

3:00 Neva Dinova: ES. I went to the East Stage for some shade. The band didn't make me want to leave.

4:00 The Autumn Project. ES. Bail.

4:05 Jakob Dylan. MS. He waited four songs until he played something from the Wallflowers.

4:45 Ezra Furman& The Harpoons. WS. Started a song, messed up their own intro, claimed to be the best band on the planet. I saw the ice cream cart.

4:48 The Ice Cream Cart. Between WS and MS. Delicious and only a dollar.

5:00 Brother Trucker. ES. Cursed a lot into the mike, then asked a child in the audience his age. The kid didn't answer; couldn't have been more than ten.

6:00 Family Groove Company. ES. Pretty funky and not just to the aged hippies.

7:00 Yonder Mountain String Band. MS. Bluegrass band; not bad, not great.

8:00 The Envy Corps. WS. Heard the first song, reminded me of U2 from The Joshua Tree days. Thought of Bono, could no longer take them seriously.

8:15 DJ Diverse. DJ. Marshalltown's own.

9:00 The Roots. MS. They had a sousaphone player on stage with them the entire show. Phenomenal. If you have never heard them go listen to The Roots right now. The kind of rap music you wish you could hear on the radio.

I hope that we get another 80/35 show next year. I also hope that they decide to hold it sometime in September. And for those of you that have made it to the end of this obnoxiously long post I present to you the freak list: Witchdoctor, guy in white penecostal robes, all black leather old guy, and four body-painted girls. Also a man in a chicken costume. And Uncle Sam.


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