Local band will fire up fans

BY MCKENNA PAULUS | MAY 01, 2014 5:00 AM

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Fire Sale is no stranger to Iowa City and the energy downtown can bring. The band members have played together since middle school and performed one of its first live performances on the Pedestrian Mall.

Joe Verstraete, the band’s drummer, said one fan gave the group some interesting support on a Saturday night during football season.

“There was a guy who stood in the back and danced with his shirt off for two hours straight,” Verstraete said. “There was a band before, and he started with them and went all night.”

The reggae/funk band will play at 9:30 p.m. Friday at the Yacht Club, 13 S. Linn St. Admission is $5.
Originally from Davenport, Verstraete said the local flavors of Iowa play into the group’s sound. The band released one full-length album recorded in Iowa City, Mind Breath.

“We do mostly originals that come from the lead singer,” Verstraete said. “And we like to mix a lot of our favorite bands into our own music — just lots of great local stuff.”

The members have another album coming out this fall. Recently, the band was able to win a chance at creating more music, which, Verstraete said, would not have been possible without some help from their friends.

“Last fall we won a battle of the bands at Yacht Club and won a free week of studio time here,” he said. “We tried hard to get everyone out to come help us, and it was by crowd voting, so we are really grateful that they all came to help us.”

Before the group puts in the work to record another album, Fire Sale is experimenting with its sound. The members considered their last album reggae-heavy, and bassist Mckinley Kuhlmann said they plan on incorporating a couple more genres.

“We have been mixing in a lot of funk and world sounds, so we are expanding our sound a little bit,” Kuhlmann said.

One of the band’s percussionists, Carlo Kind, plays congas and wood-block instruments that give the band more of an “afro feel,” Kuhlmann said.

Another part of Fire Sale’s unique sound is its use of the saxophone. Max Litnick, the band’s lead singer and songwriter, said the members consider the sax their favorite horn.

“We added the sax about three years ago and really a sax is great for leads and can be used to make melodic parts,” Litnick said. “And it adds a whole new layer of sound. We try to mix it with the guitar and create two horns.”

The future is just beginning for Fire Sale, and Litnick hopes the members continue to grow together.

“The hope is that we keep expanding our touring territory and the connections with who we give our music too,” he said. “We recently have been playing a lot around Iowa, and then hopefully, we can play a show in Chicago and then maybe St. Louis, and then we’re going to keep on trying to expand. But also just to stay together and keep playing together.”

Fire Sale
When: 9:30 p.m. Friday
Where: Yacht Club, 13 S. Linn
Admission: $5

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