Iowa City Weekender: April 14-17

I hope that you were not playing in the game of Humans vs. Zombies on campus. If you were, it got cancelled as someone got hit by a car while playing… Yea, I’m totally bewildered, too. I’m stuck on the fact that there was a town-wide version of tag being played over the course of a week. Didn’t these cats ever see Wet Hot American Summer? Tag is supposed to be a day-long epic affair with war paint and fields full of broken dreams. You might, instead, be asking why are people still interested in zombies. I don’t know; I’m not a mind reader. Anyway, let’s get to this weekend.


Catie Curtis w/ Alexis Stevens // The Mill // 8:00 PM // $12 Adv, $15 Day of Show; 19+

In a world full of sad people, Catie Curtis is an anomaly. She sings acoustic songs that are full of life and possibility. Rather than singing about love-gone-wrong, Curtis sings songs about love-gone-right, something that is very difficult if you have never tried to do it before. Having a considerable amount of positive press for both her musicianship as well as her cheery disposition on stage, her trip to the Mill should be a special one. With Alexis Stevens (who is sounding as lovely as ever) in support, this should be a nice show for the lady singer-songwriter fans as well as those people who like a well-constructed song from time to time.

Iowa City International Documentary Film Festival // Englert Theatre // 10:00 PM // Free, All Ages

Now in its ninth year, the IC DOCS festival is a collection of documentary films on a variety of international subjects. This opening night screening will be on the band Fishbone, who are well known as Black pioneers in the American rock underground. This will be the only screening at the Englert. The remaining screenings for the 14th, 15th and 16th will be at the Bijou Theater in the Iowa Memorial Union. Check the Bijou website for screening times.


Guerrilla History: Staughton Lynd Keynote Address // Iowa City Public Library // 7:30 PM // Free

The closing speech for the Midwest Labor and Working Class History Colloquium will come from Staughton Lynd, a man whose activist history is extensive. Staughton and his wife Alice have spent their lives struggling for a just and peaceful world as teachers, historians, and lawyers. They were active in the Civil Rights Movement, advocated for prisoners during the 1993 Lucasville uprisings, and have worked within the labor movement for decades. Lynd will speak about his experiences as a historian working outside the academy, alongside the communities he studies. This should be a learning experience for how the academy and the community can work as one.

Diplomats of Solid Sound w/ The Right Now and The Revelations ft. Tre Williams // Blue Moose Tap House // 8:00 PM // $7, All Ages

Local funk/soul merchants Diplomats of Solid Sound are back on the scene. If you’ve seen them before, you know what to expect. For those of you who haven’t, expect to get into the groove. Working the soul angle more than the funk one, the band is tight, the singing is on point, and the spirit is fantastic. They put on an excellent live show, one worth seeing if you haven’t. With The Right Now and The Revelations in support, this should be a cheap, fun option on your Friday night as well as a way to enjoy the local music scene.

I Love You w/ Eugene Kelly, Star City & Swan // White Lightning Wherehouse // 9:30 PM // $5, All Ages

In what should be a fairly restrained show for the Wherehouse, Friday will feature a host of solo acts playing the space. The headliner I Love You is a solo project from Chicago. The lone member Justin Randel plays dubbed-out Afro Beat style music. It’s got a solid bass groove and is very danceable, recalling !!! and Fela Kuti. There are certainly some experimental elements in there, but nothing that anyone couldn’t handle. Playing with local folk singer Eugene Kelly, loop wizard Swan, and guitar drone master Star City, this promises to be a solid, short show down at the Wherehouse.

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Back To The Future // Bijou Theater // 11:00 PM // Free for UI Students, $5 General Admission

A good film for a midnight screening (only behind such classics as The Room and anything by David Lynch), Back To The Future tells the story of how Michael J. Fox makes sure that he exists. To paraphrase Empire Magazine, if you don’t like this movie, it’s hard to believe that you like movies at all. I would second this emotion. Prove that you like movies by seeing this, especially if you haven’t seen it before.


Upright Citizens Brigade // Englert Theatre // 8:00 PM // $15 Students, $20 General Admission, All Ages

Featuring some of the freshest, most promising talent developed at the Upright Citizens Brigade theaters in New York and Los Angeles, this promises to be 90 minutes of solid improvisational comedy. If you are not familiar with UCB, you probably know its talent. Alumni of the group include Amy Poehler, Horatio Sanz (who is legitimately funny although his work on SNL sometimes suggest otherwise), Ed Helms, Rob Corddry, and Rob Huebel of Children’s Hospital. In short, UCB is going to bring the funny to the stage of the Englert if you hadn’t already figured that out.

Saturday Night Beat Farm // Gabe’s // 8:00 PM // Free, 19+

In the first of what will, hopefully, be a long-standing series, Old Man’s War and Gabe’s are presenting Saturday Night Beat Farm. Made up of the dopest emcees from Iowa City, they will presenting some mind-expanding, thoughtful hip-hop, recalling more Anticon and less Lil’ Jon. This isn’t to say that they don’t thump. The Beat Farm promises to slam hard, make backpackers bang their heads, and even get the stoners to think on a whole new plane. This is a welcome event that will help the local hip-hop community rise up into more people’s consciousnesses, especially since they have been working on building up the scene for a while now.

The Civil Wars w/ Nat Baldwin and White Dress // The Mill // 9:00 PM // $10 Advance, $12 Day of Show; 19+

The Civil Wars is a duo featuring John Paul White and Joy Williams. While they are not a couple, their music shares that particular intimacy. Their melodies play well with each other and they have excellent harmonies. If I could use a word to describe their music, it would be Americana. While that can be a vague term, its core principles of haunting, plaintive musicianship and excellent songwriting are certainly visible in The Civil Wars. Seeing as they gained much of the publicity from the live album they recorded at Eddie’s Attic, their live show at the Mill with Nat Baldwin and White Dress should be beautiful and moving.


No Joy w/ Wind Farm // The Mill // 10:00 PM // $7, 21+

No Joy is a four-piece band originating from Montreal. They are loved by Best Coast. I don’t really think that either of these pieces of information are relevant though. Instead, what’s relevant here is that No Joy is a sinister, evil group of girls that can make beautiful harmonies. Their songs have a coyness on their surface that covers their truly black hearts. They are truly a great band. I’ve been listening to their debut album Ghost Blonde over and over since it came out. It’s got its own swagger and confidence, two things not always found on a band’s debut. Their sound is hypnotic and fully engaging, never sounding derivative of either their shoegaze or twee roots. Supported by Wind Farm (who, according to the word on the street, is performing some new material), this promises to be a show worth your Sunday night.

Another action-packed weekend here in Iowa City. Sort of like Debbie Harry said, get on your bike and ride real far. Have an awesome weekend!


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