Ames is well-represented at 80/35 this year, a great affirmation of our music scene on the state level. This is the 5th anniversary of 80/35 and, in a way, its also the 5th anniversary of the current Ames music scene. Five years ago, the Boheme closed and The Space opened. (This was recently pointed out to me by Dale Johnson of the Iowa State Daily. Good eye, Dale!)
So let’s celebrate the growth of our scene by throwing down with our Ames friends at the festival this year. Here’s a rundown of the Ames bands on the lineup:
Leslie and the Ly’s
The ultimate Ames band. Leslie is a legitimate pop star, regularly appearing on TV and selling out clubs all over the country where she plays to crowds that literally worship her. Leslie and the Ly’s played their first show at the Boheme over a decade ago and in the intervening years they’ve become the definitive performance art pop band of the scene.
Christopher the Conquered
An amalgamation of Ames and Des Moines musicians (I play trumpet in this band), CtC has been owning Ames for years, starting with a series of groundbreaking performances at The Space for Ames (then the Ames Progressive Space) in 2008. Since then, Chris Ford has gone on to play countless killer shows in Ames as well as co-found Maximum Ames Records and open for his hero The Mountain Goats at Maximum Ames Music Festival. CtC is playing the Main Stage this year and is riding a wave of energy from the release of a new LP.
I’m in this band too and I can only say that we are more excited for this show than we have ever been for any show we’ve ever played. We definitely see this as a chance to represent our hometown and our home state, and also celebrate the explosion of Des Moines’ scene and the developing love affair between Ames and Des Moines. We’re bringing a party.
The Sun Company
These guys can really play. They’ve been rocking the jam and blues scene in Ames for the past few years with their massive jams and their insane musical chops. They are also super chill and awesome dudes, so it’s fun to support them and cheer them on. They shred.
This is a long-running local band that has been playing Ames for two decades and touring around the state spreading their reggae-inflected grooves. They’ve witnessed multiple generations of the local scene, going back to the Freak Week days of the late-seventies. I’ll be seeing them for the first time at this show, I can’t wait.
Okay, so none of the band members are currently living in Ames but almost all of the band members have lived in Ames and also play in other Ames bands, so this band is honorary Ames. The band is fronted by the Poison Control Center’s Devin Frank, an amazing songwriter and guitarist. The band is a supergroup that also includes Jordan Mayland (of Ames favorites Keepers of the Carpet, Nuclear Rodeo, Thermal Detonators, etc), David Olson (PCC, Nuclear Rodeo), Eric Moffitt (Keepers, Wolves in the Attic) and more. They play fucked up, outrageous, loud, angular, psychedelic rock music that simply cannot be described or summarized.
Also an honorary Ames band because he plays so many shows in Ames, Little Ruckus is basically a local band here and also has Ames folks in his dance troupe (myself included). Little Ruckus is the real deal: a completely original, unstoppable, bizarre, beautiful punk pop star whose production skills match his performance skills. He literally screams till he vomits. And on top of that, his music is incredible. Check out his new album, Tank Girl vs. Cape Girl.
Ames is representing real hard this year. You don’t have to have a ticket to see most of these bands and dozens more, so head to the streets July 6 and 7 and celebrate Ames’ place in an Iowa scene that is getting better and better by the day.