After the Independence Day success of the 80-35 Music Festival in Des Moines and the Jazz Festival here, it’s Cedar Rapids’s turn to get into the summer festival mix with its second annual New Bohemia Music Festival. This year they were planning for major expansion and a more youthful sound, but the floodwaters washed away some of the organizers’ plans. This actually works out better for the car-less and generally lazy in Iowa City: now the festival will come to you with a satellite pre-party, co-presented by Mission Creek, at the Industry on August 29. [Full disclosure: I worked in a small capacity on booking this show.] The lineup is massive, featuring: Birth Rites, Wayne Western, Baby Teeth, the Poison Control Center, and Lwa. Headlining the night will be Los Angeles’s noise-rockers HEALTH, whose all-capital-letter self-titled debut has 11 songs in just under 29 minutes.
If that seems just too short, don’t fret: the HEALTH team also had a remix album come out this year, HEALTH DISCO, and they’ll be sticking around for Saturday night, August 30, to spin tracks from that and other records. Joining them will be Fairfield sensations Porno Galactica and The School of Flyentology. Other DJs will also be involved, and the whole sweaty mess goes down at the Picador. I’m not sure what you might have planned, but this is the back-to-school party of the fall semester.
During the day on the 30th is when the New Bohemia Music Festival proper goes down in the CR, and headlining this year are some names that should be familiar to some of you: perennial New Year’s Eve rockers Murder By Death and local fella’ William Elliot Whitmore. Whitmore, who is working on an album for Anti- records (home of Tom Waits, Neko Case and Nick Cave), should be in top form before a hometown crowd. Rounding out that bill will be some of Iowa’s finest, including Shame Trane, the Diplomats of Solid Sound, Sarah Cram and the Derelicts, Matthew Grimm and the Red Smear, and the Puritanicals. It all starts at noon in Cedar Rapids.
Don’t miss Toronto’s Great Lake Swimmers at The Mill on the 19th because you’re confusing them with Iowa City’s own Great Lakes Music. The Music is good, don’t get me wrong, but it’s much less common to have a chance to see the Swimmers around these parts. They arguably had their most successful year in 2005, when they released their excellent self-titled album and rode the wave of Canadian musical success stories that was sweeping the continental U.S. at the time. But the Swimmers are still at it, touring behind 2007’s underrated Ongiara, and warming up its live show by opening for the likes of Allison Krauss and Robert Plant (!). My guess is that the show will be superior, and perhaps a little eerie.
Natalie Portman’s Shaved Head not only has an awesome name, but also has awesome beats and the retro-electro feel that has been responsible for bringing rock-and-rollers back to the dance floor. The name of its latest album is Glistening Pleasure, which I’m hoping also describes the upstairs of the Picador on the 15th. Fans of Hot Chip and Chromeo should especially plan to attend.
On August 10, the Pokey LaFarge duo comes to The Mill with a bunch of acoustic instruments, doing a mix of bluegrass, old time and folk. This kind of show is really what the Mill does best, and Pokey will be touring in support of a new album that came out in the middle of July. As of this writing I haven’t heard it, but I do know that this duo were formerly a part of the Hackensaw Boys, who once toured with Cake and were one of the best bluegrass bands I’ve ever seen. Banjo lovers young and old should be able to unite around this one.
By way of introduction, I’m writing this column in reverse chronological order this month. You know, just to mix it up.