Hello reader and welcome to On The Beat, a monthly column that will explore and comment on the local music scene as well as highlight some solid shows coming up during the month, exactly like The Haps previously. From what I see in this month’s shows, 2012 is coming out the gate strong.
On the fourth day of the new year, reggae legends The Wailers will groove out at the Blue Moose. Best known for supporting Bob Marley, The Wailers are an integral part of his music, providing the instrumentation for classic tracks like “Get Up, Stand Up” and “Trenchtown Rock”.
Although Marley passed in 1981, The Wailers’ name is kept alive by remaining original bassist Aston Barrett who was recruited by the band’s founders Marley, Peter Tosh and Bunny Wailer following studio work with Barrett’s first band The Upsetters. With The Wailers, Barrett worked on much of the music and is widely considered Marley’s right hand man. Possessing over five decades of music in their arsenal, The Wailers continue taking their brand of reggae around the world to bring attention to those less fortunate like when Bob was alive. They will be supported by NYC political rap-rockers Outernational. I would put money on many consciousnesses being raised at this show.
The legend cavalcade doesn’t stop with The Wailers. On the day after, January 5th, classic indie rockers Camper Van Beethoven will rock the Mill stage. One of immensely talented but overlooked bands to come from the 1980s college rock scene like Let’s Active and The Go-Betweens, Camper Van Beethoven has influenced diverse bands like The Dodos, Sublime, Teenage Fanclub and moe. with their timeless music that mixes ska, punk, folk, and rock and roll into a distinct sound.
While they haven’t released new original material since 2004’s New Roman Times, CVB has been touring and releasing unheard and cover material regularly since reuniting in 1999. I always like shows like this because they provide the necessary history lessons for young indie rockers who might not know all of the influences of their favorite band. Furthermore, they provide opportunities for those who missed them the first time around (or didn’t) and want to feel their music live. In either case, both sets of fans will be treated to material from the forthcoming album (release date unknown) as well as classic gems such as “Eye of Fatima” and “Take The Skinheads Bowling” by this California quintet.
In addition to these classic bands, there is a great opportunity this month to see the diversity of excellent bands from both Iowa City and Eastern Iowa/Western Illinois. The 21st of January will bring an epic, two-bar concert and signal the resurrection of a space that I thought would be lost to time.
One half of this concert is the Yacht Club’s 9th Anniversary Show. While it used to be a morgue, this brick building on Linn has become a lively haven for rockers, groovers, jam bands, bluegrass troupes and local/regional music. To celebrate their 9th Anniversary, the Yacht Club will put on a daylong show featuring The Big Wu, OSG, Aaron Kamm & the One Drops, Whistle Pigs, Tallgrass, Limbs, Dream Thieves, Gone South & The Enz with Coolzey & Hayden Fried spinning sets.
The other half of this musical feast is Punk Farm 2012 at Gabe’s, for those who might not be so interested in the jamming and/or bluegrass. With nine bands on the bill ranging from the punk-pop of Lipstick Homicide to the hellish fury of Supersonic Piss, this will be a potent display of the best punk bands operating in the area right now. If you are into punk, you really should not miss this. The bands are all solid and provide something for everyone whether it’s speed, attitude, or catchiness.
The reason this mega show is even possible is because Gabe’s was bought recently by Scott Kading, the owner of the Yacht Club. When I moved here in 2008, Gabe’s was The Picador, a good place to see a show as quality bands were regularly booked and the sound was good. When the ownership switched and The Picador became Gabe’s again, the bar became this void where the only interesting thing was the graffiti about Charles “Taterbug” Free on its exterior.
The Yacht Club’s purchase of Gabe’s gives me hope that this space can become relevant again in Iowa City. How could it become important? For me, that would be booking punk, experimental, and hip-hop shows, as these are genres that are in dire need of their own space downtown. Whichever way the club goes with its sound, I really only want one thing to return: the urge to go to Gabe’s for a show.