Mission Creek Festival: Day 6

So, today ends another hectic Mission Creek festival. This year’s festival killed again and again. I’ll put up insights about that the next couple of days after I get some of the stuff I wanted to finish before the festival done.

Today only brings two things: a reading and a concert.

The reading is a collaboration between Amber Tamblyn, Beau Sia, and Derrick Brown and some promising young poets from around this state. This event starts at 5 PM and is free to the public although donations are very much welcome.

The concert is headlined by a returning Iowan Laura Sprengelmeyer. Operating as Little Scream, her music walks lines between folk, rock and electronica. She will be supported by indie folk acts The Daredevil Christopher Wright, Brooke Strause & The Gory Details and North English. This show starts at 8 PM and is $10 at the door.

Seriously, thank you everyone from coming to the festival. It was awesome to see a lot of people at every show this year, and to see people coming from all over the country and the region for show. Until later…

Mission Creek Festival: Day 5

The festival has finally taken its toll on me. I can’t even get this preview written if I tried. My arms barely work, and I’ve got that weird John McCain thing where I can’t lift my arms above my head. Anyway, I’m going to quickly tell you what today is about.

Today is the traditional day of literature here at the festival. Check out the schedule to see where the various events are and who’s involved in them. This year’s lit crawl is also wrapped up into the first annual Food Crawl. Each round of the lit crawl will feature food from the fine restaurants here in Iowa City.

As for the actual shows, I’m going to defer to the insert.

Don’t forget to follow us @MissionCreekIC on Twitter and use #mcf2012 or #getyourcreekon on your tweets. Also, follow the festival and get daily time tables from our Facebook page.

I understand that this is minimal, so get at me (info below) if you’re on the street and want to do something rad.

I’ve gotta go lay down before tonight starts…

Mission Creek Festival: Day 4

Are you kidding me right now? If you haven’t been at the festival, you haven’t been anywhere. Tim Hecker played one of the creepiest, most awe-inspiring ambient sets I’ve heard in years, and Black Milk completely tore down Gabe’s. Thursday wasn’t a joke, folks. This festival’s for real and for rad. Friday promises to bring more. Don’t forget to follow us @MissionCreekIC on Twitter and use #mcf2012 or #getyourcreekon on your tweets. Also, follow the festival and get daily time tables from our Facebook page.

There are two sold out shows, a litany of local shows, and a psych show to mess with your mind.

To deal with the sold out programs first, William Elliott Whitmore & Justin Townes Earle are playing the Blue Moose with Grand Tetons. This promises to be a solid show of hard-charging Americana music. I would try to sell you on it, but it’s sold out, so that’s just cruel. For the fortunate ones that are going, the show starts at 8 PM. The other program that you can’t attend (that is unless you have a pass) is David Cross and his Band of Jokers featuring Mary Lynn Rajskub, H. Jon Benjamin, and Jon Glazer. The yuks starts at 7 PM.

If you are still thinking to yourself what is there for you to do, stop. There’s plenty for everyone to do. This is a festival after all.

Over at the Mill, singer-songwriter Sharon Van Etten will be headlining a really stacked bill of performers. Local favorites Bowerbirds will be co-headlining. Local juggernaut Alexis Stevens and international heart throbs The Lonelyhearts will be the start to what promises to be a really solid night of music. This show starts at 8 PM and is $18.

Over at Gabe’s is a psych extravaganza. Philadelphia’s The War on Drugs will be headlining the night with their swirling guitar-driven sound. They will be supported by Vancouver’s Dirty Beaches, whose 2011’s Badlands was a favorite around the Mission Creek staff. Support will be coming from local heavy hitters Wet Hair and The Savage Young Taterbug. It’ll be another solid show from back to front. The festivities start at 10 PM and $10 will get you through the door.

If you want some international flavor, head to the Yacht Club. Over there, the Columbian group Lulacruza will be providing it in spades as well as some excellent music to dance to. They will be supported by Lady Espina and The Miles Kean Epictet. The show starts at 9 PM and tickets are $10.

The last show in the KRUI Lounge happens on Friday. They will be hosting indie poppers Gardens and Villa and Golden Birds. As with all of the other shows that have happened here, these shows are free to the public.

Outside of these shows, Friday signals the beginning of a FREE showcase of local musical talent. There are two happy hour shows on this day. The first I’ll note is at Joe’s Place and will be folky/acoustic in nature. There you can see The Wheelers, The Western Front and Complexes. The other is in the Upstairs of the Deadwood. This show will display a variety of electronic and more experimental music. Friday features Wind Farm, Centaur Noir, Candy Breaks, Taser Island/Radius (Full disclosure: I play in Wind Farm). The events at both places start promptly at 5, and, as I noted before, are totally free to attend.

Mission Creek Festival: Day 3

It’s Day Three of the Festival. Sleep’s getting low, but the jams are still kicking. I gotta stay brief today. I’m on the time grind.

Like I said yesterday, we’re fully in the game now. Today brings so much stuff, it’ll make your head spin. Remember follow us at @Missioncreekic and to tag your tweets with #mcf2012 or #getyourcreekon. As well, there are time tables for the day’s events on our Facebook page.

At PS1, there is another free show with dark Americana band American Dust, which is made up of members from Mondo Drag. They will be supported by local folkster Ed Gray. This show starts up at 6 PM. As well, feel free to show up any time before that to catch the live interviews and performances during the day that KRUI have organized. They have a schedule of who and when on their website.

The Blue Moose brings a bit of necessary weirdness to the festival. Co-headlining this show is former Moldy Peaches member and now solo lo-fi sensation Kimya Dawson. The other headliner is the ever slick dance-pop troupeLeslie and the Lys. If you haven’t seen Leslie and the Lys, definitely check it out; it will be worth your while. They will be supported by returning visitor Christopher the Conquered, who will be bringing his own brand of pop. Last on this bill is Weed Wolf, a side project of the leader of Muscle Drum (who played last night at Gabe’s). This show starts at 6 PM. Note the early start time. Tickets are $12 in advance and $15 at the door.

Following the success of Devotchka at First Methodist Church last year, we’re putting on another show there this year. This time, the music won’t be gypsy; it’ll be electronic. The headliner for this show is returning artist Tim Hecker, who has released new music composed for electronics and organ. As you might know, churches have organs, large pipe organs. I’ll let you add that up yourself. In support will be Brooklyn-based ambient artist Nathan Wheeler and local IDM artist Ex-Action Model. If you are in the air about your night, heavily consider this show. Hecker’s last performance here was excellent.

Following up from El Ten Eleven who killed it last night, The Yacht Club will be coming strong again with a wall-to-wall pop lineup. Headlining the night will be rising indie popper Oberhofer, whose recent album Time Capsules II is getting excellent reviews. In support will be Ames-based Mumford’s, who will bring their own quirky blend of pop. The horns of Mumfords will be offset by the acoustic based attack of Sudden and Subtle. The Iowa City-based Olympics round out the entire night of events. This show is $8 and starts at 8 PM.

The Mill will host a few returning visitors to Iowa City. The headliner at this show is Mike Doughty. Former member of Soul Coughing, his solo material is strongly based in the singer-songwriter tradition with a pronounced folk influence. Supporting Doughty will be Minneapolis-based Caroline Smith & The Goodnight Sleeps, who have been blowing people away with their folk-pop since they first came to town a couple of years ago. Last on this bill is the upbeat folk-pop group Death Ships, who started in Iowa City but now call Chicago home. This show starts at 9 PM and tickets are $12 in advance, $15 at the door.

Doughty will also be having a reading of his new work with Lindsay Hunter and Jason Lewis at The Motley Cow on Linn Street. This reading will start at 5 PM and is free to attend.

The last show on today’s bill is the only hip-hop show of the festival. Hailing from Detroit, Black Milk will be headlining the bill, mixing streetwise rhymes with smart, self-made production. In support will be A.Dd+, the Dallas-based upstarts who have been getting excellent reviews for their mix of the streets and the mind. Local acts Rich Rok and Ion will be starting the night right. This show starts going off at 10 PM. Tickets are $10 in advance and $12 at the door.

Along with Doughty’s reading at the Motley Cow, past U.S. Poet Laureate and all-around awesome dude Robert Hass will be reading as a part of the Ida Cordelia Beam lecture series. His reading will be at W10 Buchanan Auditorium. I have seen him before, and he is an excellent reader, not boring and stiff like so many other poets.

Mission Creek Festival: Day 2

Day one was a rough one. It was pretty awesome though. Rhys Chatman ripped it from beginning to end. I’m just glad I brought my earplugs so I can survive yet another day.

Yesterday was the teaser. Today is the beginning of the flood. There are five shows today, and they cover the whole range of sounds. To stay informed during the day and night, follow us (@MissionCreekIC) on Twitter for real-time updates on bands and footage from the ground. When you tweet about the event, use #MCF2012 or #getyourcreekon, and you might even get a re-tweet. You can also see full schedules with times for each performer on our Facebook page.

The big show on this night is The Magnetic Fields at the Englert. While the name is only a cover for the musings of Stephin Merritt, The Magnetic Fields have long been connected with quality songwriting and moody atmospherics. Touring in support of the new album Love at the Bottom of the Sea, this promises to be a special occasion. Singer-songwriter Kelly Hogan will be starting the festivities off at 8 PM. The doors will open at 7 PM. Tickets are $30 in advance, $32 at the door.

Wednesday also notes the beginning of the FREE Public Space One shows. The first show features dark electronic-pop upstarts The Olsen Twinns, Iowa City girl punks Muscle, and spiritual uplifters Utopia Park. While I can’t speak to The Olsen Twinns, I’ve seen both Muscle and Utopia Park before and both are excellent live shows. As well, I’m not joking about the spiritual uplift and Utopia Park. The Rabelais brothers bring it to every performance, and their positivity pours out, penetrating even the most cynical of spirits (pointing at myself here).

These first two shows don’t conflict with each other; you can certainly check out PS1 and the Englert. After Magnetic Fields lets out, you’re left with three options and your choice is based on what you are more interested in doing.

If you want to a folk-style ending to your night, head to The Mill where three men will enchant you with their songs. First on the bill is local troubadour Doug Nye. He’ll be followed by Denison Witmer, who neo-folk stylings have gained him a solid following. Headlining the night will be William Fitzsimmons. He will be finger picking at his guitar while pulling on your heart. This show is $15 and will start up at 9 PM.

If that sentence about pulling on your heart made you throw up in your mouth a little bit, Erase Errata might work better for you. Hailing from San Francisco, the trio (originally a quartet) has been kicking out spazzy punk rock for over a decade now, recalling the lady post-punks of the 1970s like The Slits and Kleenex. While they have been in hiding for a while, this show marks their return to the scene as they will also be recording their new album at Flat Black Studios in Iowa City. Opening for Erase Errata will be San Francisco pop experimenters Muscle Drum, Chicago punk rockers T’Bone, local gutter punks Supersonic Piss, and Slut River, the classiest band in Iowa City. All of this punk fury will go down at Gabe’s. The show starts at 9 PM and tickets are $8 in advance, $10 at the door.

If listening to Slut River isn’t your game but neither is listening to men quietly play guitars, consider this last option. Wednesday brings El Ten Eleven to The Yacht Club with their own brand of instrumental, innovative progressive rock. I am culturally obligated to tell you that the guitarist plays a dual-neck guitar, which is eternally awesome. They will be supported Fairfield-based electro-rockers Surgery and Iowa City’s Slip Silo, which mixes jazz, electronica and rock.

If you hate music, Mission Creek’s got you covered, too. At Prairie Lights, the Four Short Story Writers of the Apocalypse will ride. After workshops with the undergraduate and graduate creative writers on campus, this reading will serve as a capstone for the day. Readers will include Robin Hemley, Michael Martone, Melissa Pritchard and Pinckney Benedict. The reading will start at 7 PM and is totally free.

Mission Creek Festival: Day 1

The day is now on us. For the betterment of everything save the staff’s health/sanity, the 2012 Mission Creek Festival begins today. Everyday, we’ll be posting a cheat sheet for the day so you know what the events are and what everything sounds like. If you want to stay in the know during the festival, follow @missioncreekic on Twitter and put #mcf12 on all of your tweets when you’re out at an event. If you don’t like the Twitter, like us on Facebook and keep coming back here everyday.

Tuesday brings three events for your pleasure. Two are music and the last is literature.

To start with the letters first, Tuesday brings Luis Alberto Urrea and Benjamin Hale to Prairie Lights. A master of all writing genres, Urrea is an award-winning author who will be reading from his newest novel Queen of America, a sequel to 2005’s very well-received The Hummingbird’s Daughter. Benjamin Hale is a recent graduate of the Iowa Writer’s Workshop. His satirical first novel The Evolution of Bruno Littlemore has been named one of Amazon’s Best Books for February 2012 and has received many positive reviews from outlets such as The Washington Post.

The music front offers two types of rock-and-roll shows.

On one side, there is the annual KRUI Pizza Party at The Mill. For $3, you get pizza (wouldn’t be a very good pizza party without pizza) as well as the music of three excellent bands from the Upper Midwest: the Chicago-based Like Pioneers, Minneapolis’s The Parlour Suite, and frequent visitors from Ames The Poison Control Center. This show will be fun and upbeat as all of these bands walk the line between rock and pop. If bands like Tennis, Pavement, and The Thermals are on your iPod, this is a show for you. The festivities start at 8 PM.

If you like your rock less poppy and more aggressive, the Tuesday show at Gabe’s might be more your speed. Local garage rippers Solid Attitude will start off the festivities. International man of mystery Jeff Witscher will be playing a set as Rene Hell.He’s always a dynamic live performance. The headliner on this show is the No Wave legend Rhys Chatham who will be playing with the guitar trio. If you call yourself a fan of Sonic Youth, you need to be at this show as he is one of their major influences. This show starts at 9:00 PM and will cost $12.

We’ll be back tomorrow. If you see any of the staff members on the street (we’re all clearly labeled with lanyards and various shadows), throw us a high five. I don’t ask for this because we’re doing this festival but because we love high fives.

The Festival Comes Tuesday!

So, in case you’ve been sleeping and not looking around, this year’s Mission Creek Festival is about to start. It will be an exciting week of music, food, and literary arts. What will happen? I’m not sure, but I know I will be around to see as much of it as I possibly can. During the festival, you can see posts and some interviews with various artists appearing at this location during the course of the week. If you want to hang out, I’ll be down at PS1 all week in the KRUI lounge, picking off people and being scummy/sketchy. As well, you should follow me on Twitter (@acethoughts) as well as the official feed (@missioncreekIC) during the week to get some news on what’s cool/rad/interesting going on that night/day. I imagine there will be at least one unauthorized show as well as some general ne’er-doing-well.

I’ve had a number of people asking me what’s worth seeing. The political answer is all of it because the whole festival is going to be very high quality. Personally, I’m excited about seeing the following shows. You’ll have to click through to read those.

Read more »

Mission Creek 2012: Comedy

Here we are, the seventh year of Mission Creek Festival, and still coming up with fresh ideas. Not only does this year’s fest incorporate the awesome food here in Iowa City but it also introduces marquee comedians to the lineup for the first time in fest history.

Now, comedy at music festivals is not a new idea. Every year Tennessee’s Bonnaroo Festival has a few heavy hitting comedians, and even Pitchfork Music Festival in Chicago tried out a comedy stage a couple years ago. I have never been to Bonnaroo, but I was at the Pitchfork comedy stage, and while the bill was stacked with very funny comedians, the outcome was a bit of a disaster. Even famed Stella comedian Michael Showalter broke down while battling with police sirens on the street behind him and Broken Social Scene across the field and wound up doing a twenty minute improvised bit on how much performing comedy at a music festival sucks. He cut his set a half hour short and left with a frustrated apology to the crowd. It was hard to watch…

But not Mission Creek! Unlike the popular outdoor festivals that fill up just about every weekend across the country during the summer months, we provide a much more intimate, less distracting environment. Obviously, I am talking about David Cross at the Englert Theatre. This milestone in Mission Creek history is one of the most exciting aspects of the festival this year. David Cross has been dominating the comedy scene for years now, establishing himself a jack of all trades performing everything from sketch comedy, to starring in television shows, to stand-up comedy. His unique brand of cynicism and sarcasm has gained him a loyal, well-deserved national audience.

But everyone knows that David Cross is funny. What’s really exciting about this show is who he is bringing along with him. Confirmed so far is one of the best comedy duos out there, Jon Benjamin and Jon Glazer. Jon Benjamin, while a well respected stand-up comic, is mostly known for his work on his FX show Archer, and his new Comedy Central series that he created, writes for, and stars in, Jon Benjamin Has a Van. All the while, Jon Benjamin has been collaborating on and off with Jon Glazer, who has his own Adult Swim show, Delocated. While both of these gentlemen are very funny on the screen, they are impeccable when together and on a stage, often engaging in very dry almost anti-comedy which meshes very well with David Cross’ style. Here is a clip of them doing their shtick called “The Fuggedabuddies” at New York’s famous comedy show Invite Them Up!

Pretty funny, eh? Rumor has it that David, Jon and Jon will be performing all together, along with a few other unannounced comedians in a sort of variety hour that will combine all of your favorite aspects of the three comedians. You catch these three hilarious dudes at the Englert Theatre on Friday, March 30th at 7:00PM. Don’t worry, this show does not conflict with the William Elliott Whitmore and Justin Townes Earle show as it will start after the David Cross show is over. Purchase individual tickets and festival passes through Midwestix.

Mission Creek 2012 Complete Lineup

So, we’ve been leaking hits from the coming 2012 Festival over the past few weeks. This hasn’t been strictly promotional. If you could come to our secret team meetings–they always start with a ritual sacrifice–you would see how psyched all of us actually are for this year’s festival.

We’ve got heavy hitters coming in that we’ve been trying to get for years like Rhys Chatham, The Magnetic Fields and David Cross. In addition to the major names, we’ve got a lot of really exciting up-and-coming artists coming to the festival this year like Little Scream, Dirty Beaches, and The War on Drugs. Add to this a mix of established musicians like Seun Kuti, Sharon Van Etten, and William Elliott Whitmore and you’ve got a solid week of good music on your hands and in your ears.

The lit festival is going to be epic this year as well, going everyday of the festival rather than being confined to its regular Saturday. If that weren’t enough, oh, there’s food this year too. Details are still getting sorted with regards to this thing, but I can present to you the following lineup of this year’s festival on the musical front:

The Magnetic Fields
David Cross
Seun Kuti & Egypt 80
William Elliott Whitmore
Justin Townes Earle
Black Milk
Sharon Van Etten
Tim Hecker
Rhys Chatham
Leslie & the Ly’s
The War On Drugs
Kimya Dawson
Dirty Beaches
Jon Benjamin
Jon Glaser
Mike Doughty
Little Scream
Erase Errata
Like Pioneers
Caroline Smith & the Goodnight Sleeps
Rene Hell
Wet Hair
Muscle Drum
Denison Witmer
Weed Wolf
Grand Tetons
Christopher the Conquered
The Olympics
The Lonelyhearts
Alexis Stevens
The Savage Young Taterbug
Kelly Hogan
Rich Rok
Super Sonic Piss

Are you psyched yet? You can still get festival passes. Peep the main site for more about those.

The House Project

In a new sort-of continual/long-term/occasional project that doesn’t consist of me just inundating you with albums that I think are cool, I’m going to start a learning project.

When I was in high school, I used to listen to nothing but techno and shoegaze. While there may have been a random PJ Harvey or Chris Isaak album thrown in, everything else was house, drum & bass, or shoegaze. As time went on and I got really obsessed with shoegaze and dream-pop, my electronic knowledge has slipped a bit. After listening to all of the rad dance mixes on KRUI Saturday Nights for the past four years, I’ve tried to get back into it, but it’s been far too daunting to recreationally undertake. I need an actual goal to reach, which is why I’ve decided to start The House Project.

Each installment will be about my attempts to learn more about the large, ever expanding, ever more drug-fueled world of dance music. I’ll do this by genres, so you’ll read a post about house then one about trance than another about dubstep. This isn’t going to end anytime soon, but it will be starting very soon. What genre? I don’t know. We’ll find out when I start looking.

If you know of any directions I should look in, leave it in the comments below. I’m willing to listen to anything, but that doesn’t guarantee that I’ll actually like it.