Mission Creek Festival
Downtown Iowa City (various venues) — April 1-4, 2020
The Englert Theatre is once again bringing fresh, “community-minded” music and literature to downtown Iowa City with the 15th annual Mission Creek Festival. They’ve curated a jam-packed lineup for the festival’s truncated four-day schedule, kicking of Wednesday, April 1 (no foolin’).
A mix of familiar faces and first-timers fill the bill. Tickets are on sale now, at special early-bird rates through midnight on Dec. 20, with a premium pass (which includes drink tickets and festival merch) running $250, a standard pass $150, and a student pass (must show valid ID) $50. Select individual event tickets will go on sale Jan. 24. The full, current lineup is listed below.
Post-punk phenom Kim Gordon (Sonic Youth, Body/Head) returns to Mission Creek Festival for the first time since her 2011 appearance. This time, she’s joined by Bill Nace (Body/Head), Steve Gunn (the Violators) and John Truscinksi to present Sound for Andy Warhol’s Kiss. They’ll perform the live soundtrack live along with a screening of the 1963 film, one of the first Warhol made at his New York City studio The Factory.
Portland, Oregon’s Black Belt Eagle Scout, a.k.a. Katherine Paul, dropped her second album, At the Party With My Brown Friends, in August. The Swinomish musician centers the queer Indigenous experience in all of her work — Pitchfork noted in a September interview that all of her music videos “have been directed by trans, queer, or genderfluid Indigenous artists and have highlighted Indigenous girls and Native folks who identify as Two-Spirit.” Her elegant dream of a voice locks her in as one of the can’t-miss acts of the festival.
Other standouts on the music track include indie darling and former DIY superstar (Sandy) Alex G; returning blues powerhouse Adia Victoria, whose 2016 MCF performance was one of the most talked about that year; and the brilliant Nadah El Shazly, who wowed Feed Me Weird Things audiences this past May.
The literary lineup includes local Iowa City superstar (and Iowa Writers’ Workshop alum) Garth Greenwell, whose new book, Cleanness, will be out in January. His 2016 debut, What Belongs to You, won the British Book Award for Debut of the Year and was long-listed for the National Book Award.
Kumeyaay poet and podcaster Tommy Pico’s first book of poetry, 2016’s IRL, was written in the epic tradition — as one long text message. He continues to sit at the nexus of past, present and future with the podcasts Food 4 Thot, which explores queerness, race, relationships and pop culture, and Scream, Queen, which looks at marginalized people in horror films.
Comedian and blogger Samantha Irby headlines the literary track. Her upcoming essay collection, Wow, No Thank You, will be released March 31, just days before her slot at the festival. She blogs at the popular bitchesgottaeat.blogspot.com, writings from which became the heart of her debut collection, 2013’s Meaty.
Mission Creek’s popular community events are back in full force as well (sponsored by Little Village), including the ICE CREAM Comics + Zine Fair, the Literary Magazine & Small Press Book Fair, the Big Grove-hosted Big Free Show + Vinyl Market and the new Daylight DIY at Trumpet Blossom Cafe. Interactive, interdisciplinary events will be centered this year as well, including a conversation between Adia Victoria and poet and essayist Hanif Abdurraqib.
In a press release, festival organizers explained the switch to a four- instead of six-day format is intended to create “a more programmatically intense experience for festival goers.”
(Sandy) Alex G
Sound for Andy Warhol’s Kiss Feat. Kim Gordon, Bill Nace, Steve Gunn, John Truscinksi
Black Belt Eagle Scout
Tropical Fuck Storm
Nadah El Shazly
Shabaka & the Ancestors
The Hooten Hollers
Kristen Renee Miller
Sarah Rose Etter
T Kira Madden