Water woes and audio anguish can’t silence 80/35


Day One

57 photos

Day Two

117 photos

Hippies dancing, beer drinking, music playing — 80/35 is a magical place. This past weekend, Des Moines added to the summer fun with its second 80/35 Music Festival, with headlining acts such as blues band Ben Harper and the Relentless7 and hip-hop group Public Enemy.

The event carried a rare atmosphere — blending hip-hop, rap, rock, and reggae and a different type of environment. The main stage took place in Western Gateway Park in downtown Des Moines, with other stages happening on blocked-off side streets. The wide, grassy area of the park at the main stage provided an interesting counter to the tight, urban area of the side stages. The differing locations allowed the various types of people to intermingle while traveling to their favorite acts without much difficulty.

Brian and Sue Fort, both Des Moines residents and nearing 50, came with their daughters and enjoyed the free side of the festival.

“It’s great for the city of Des Moines,” Brian Fort said. “People are able to come down and enjoy bands of all types. We don’t really fit in here, though I should have brought my headband.”

The only requirement of the festival seemed to be to enjoy the music. As 80/35’s marketing promised, there was a little bit of something for everyone. For the most part, each act gave entertaining and energetic performances. On July 3, Tilly and the Wall set the mood of the festival and kicked the main stage off with its tap-dancing, fun-loving, funky beats.

The much-anticipated acts of the day, Stephen Malkmus and the Jicks and Public Enemy, disappointed the crowd. The audio mix for Malkmus was downright awful with vocals hardly audible, and the group members seemed angry at each other — shooting glares back and forth throughout the set. Unlike Malkmus, Public Enemy’s sound was great — for half of the group. After the main stage fans waited for an hour in pouring rain, Chuck D’s voice powered over the audience and informed everyone that Flavor Flav would not be in attendance, citing something medical as the problem. Needless to say, the crowd members were not happy, with half leaving to take their soaked bodies and clothes elsewhere immediately.

Day two began earlier, with the main stage starting off at noon, but the crowd didn’t start to grow until about 3 p.m., when people gathered in anticipation for Philly noise rockers Man Man — the standout show of the festival. Man Man members, in their all-white attire, gave the crowd everything they came hear.

The band members banged around on stage with caveman antics and used nontraditional instruments alongside the typical drum set, piano, and saxophone. They poured water into a bowl, smacked on trash cans, and even whipped out a spoon. Man Man rocked for a little more than an hour and left the main stage with an excited, chanting crowd that wanted more.

Another anticipated act of the festival — indie-rock super-group Broken Social Scene — brought intensity to its set. The crowd cheered as the group exploded with such favorites as “7/4 Shoreline” and “Swimmers.” Broken Social Scene’s leader Kevin Drew’s voice reigned supreme over the park as he chimed, “You’ve got to fight to celebrate in this life, and it sounds like this.” The band, known for its guests, treated fans to celebration and brought in Stars vocalist Torquil Cambpell and the horn section from Man Man to rock for different aspects of the show.

Aside from the few disappointing moments on July 3, the festival was a success. Nathan McInnis, 18, came from Omaha for the event with a few friends, and he was extremely happy with the lineup.

“There’s a lot of funky, great music going on,” he said. “I came here for Matisyahu and Ben Harper, but I really like the different styles going on. It’s been awesome.”

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