As I write this, July 1 is creeping up like doomsday for many local smokers, and depending on your daily nicotine needs, shows are either going to be a lot more comfortable or a mild pain in the ass. The Mill has been experimenting with nonsmoking shows for some time now, on nights where the demographic leans a bit older and the music leans a bit more acoustic (folk and bluegrass, especially). Still, it’s difficult for me to imagine many of the bands and fans of the Yacht Club and the Picador embracing a smoke-free lifestyle, but laws are laws. So since actually walking inside a club is now a strange burden for many, you won’t want to waste your time or your money when you could be out on the patio. Here’s who makes not lighting up worth it for the month of July.
The arrival of July means festival season is in full swing, and starting things off will the profanity-laced Fuck Yeah! Festival, which started as a one-day Los Angeles affair and is now a touring roadshow. It’ll have stopped at the Mill on July 1, featuring Crystal Antlers, whose debut EP is rightly generating all kinds of buzz from music writers and bloggers. They were joined by Team Robespierre and Monotonix. Two Iowa City bands were also on the bill: furious rockers The Puritanicals and the super deluxe DJs from the School of Flyentology.
The parties continue a few days later, and you’ll have two to choose from for your soundtrack to America’s birthday. I’ll be headed to Des Moines on July 4 for the 80/35 Festival, a two-day event featuring The Flaming Lips and The Roots. Besides other nationally renowned and middle-aged acts like Black Francis (awesome) and Cracker (wtf?), the festival deserves high praise for its commitment to local music. I’ve been increasingly frustrated by the rise of the profit-driven mega-festivals that seem divorced from the very places they take place, so kudos to 80/35’s promoters for booking some of Iowa’s best: The Poison Control Center, The Diplomats of Solid Sound, Dirty Little Rabbits, Dave Zollo, The Envy Corps, and Pieta Brown. If you prefer jazz with a big helping of jam, they you’ll want to stay in town for Medeski, Martin and Wood, among others, at this year’s jazz fest.
For a party on a much smaller scale, come to 805 E. Washington for a house show featuring Olympia’s Sewn Leather on July 3. Touring with the appropriately named Joey Casio, these bands make retro electronic blips into dance music. It’s like less polished Hot Chip with five times the aggressiveness. Ed Bornstein, local drummer of Foul Tip and the Tanks, has a new project called T’bone that will open. Bring your own booze, and a lot of it.
The Lonelyhearts are made up of Iowa City’s Andre Perry and the Bay Area’s John Lindenbaum, which means touring is infrequent and therefore always worth catching. They’ll be playing their brand of indie folk with Lawrence singer Suzannah Johannes on two dates in our area. The first is on July 10 at Huckleberry’s Pizza in Rock Island, where they’ll be opening for one of my favorite revelations of this year, The Dodos. The following night, Lonelyhearts and Johannes will play at Public Space One, which is now in the basement of the Jefferson Building downtown. Miguel Soria, ex-local guy who performs under the name Monadnoc, will open that show.
Later on the night of the 11th, the aforementioned School of Flyentology will be throwing a rare Friday night show at the Yacht Club, featuring Fairfield’s own Porno Galactica and Zap Rowsdower. One of the surprise acts of this year’s Mission Creek Music Festival, brothers Porno and Zap make innovative and dance worthy beats while flailing around on stage and generally causing pandemonium. It’s the kind of genuine excitement that so many electronic musicians are generating right now in a live setting, and I have no problem mentioning these high-schoolers in the same breath as Dan Deacon and Girl Talk.
Three shows of particular note round out the month, all at The Picador. On July 21, the Apples in Stereo bring their Beatles-esque pop melodies to the Picador, and might even play “Stephen, Stephen,” which was recorded for the Colbert Report and appears on their recent rarities album, Electronic Projects for Musicians. Front man Robert Schneider is eccentric, awesome, and talented; besides his own brand of lush, sonic, indie pop, he produced Neutral Milk Hotel’s classic In the Aeroplane Over the Sea. Roommate, who has quietly made one of 2008’s best albums with We Were Enchanted, play on the 26th. And emo fans get ready: July 31 sees the Jesse Lacey rolling through town, and the man behind Brand New will certainly bring plenty of angst and sing-alongs with him.
See you there.