David Byrne & St. Vincent headline the main stage of 8035 on Friday 7/5/13. (Michael Watson/Special to Juice)
80/35 Day 1 blog: This must be the place
Published on July 6th, 2013 | by Joe Lawler
The sixth annual 80/35 Music Festival kicked off Friday afternoon with some warm weather (88 degrees at 5 p.m.) and warmer tunes. Organizers estimated 6,000 paid attendees (vs. 8,000 the first day last year) and 12,000 when you factor in the two free stages.
The Main Stage area was pretty much empty until the moment Tea Leaf Green took the stage at 5 p.m. Jam fans suddenly popped up in strong numbers for the San Francisco band.
Among the side stages, I’ll just leave a comment I overheard from someone leaving Kitty (Pryde): “I feel dumber.” Dustin Smith & The Sunday Silos played with a nine piece band with lots of brass, acting as a nice precursor to David Byrne & St. Vincent. Maxilla Blue elicited strong reactions from the crowd, getting arms waving and fists pumping.
Yeasayer is a band I had only experienced through its records, and they really surprised me. Their rhythm section gave them more of a reggae sound, and there were more world music elements than I had picked up from recordings. At various times their sound reminded me both of The Talking Heads and LCD Soundsystem, which I found interesting because I had never connected the instrumentals of those two bands before, even though David Byrne and LCD’s James Murphy have always struck me as having similar voices. Singer/guitarist Chris Keating recounted the band’s last attempt at playing Des Moines from stage and also talked about getting into Des Moines on Wednesday and spending a few days here: “You guys celebrate July 4 on July 3, apparently,” he said of their first night in town.
David Byrne & St. Vincent were kind of a surprise pick to headline this year. On their own I don’t know that either would fit in that spot (of course Byrne certainly would fronting The Talking Heads), but I think they may have been my second favorite 80/35 headliners ever, right behind The Flaming Lips.
Counting Byrne and Annie Clark, it was a 12-piece band that closed out Friday night, including a huge brass section. Byrne was Byrne, still dancing non-stop, moving around the stage rhythmically and looking like a more silver version of his “Stop Making Sense” look, wearing an all white outfit with black suspenders.
I first saw Annie Clark perform six years ago at the M-Shop, and at the time it was just her and a guitar. She was even her own percussion with a big stomping board. Oh how her show has changed. Performing next to Byrne, Clark seems to be channeling her inner 80s pop diva.
I’m curious if “Burning Down the House” is the biggest hit performed by the original artist on an 80/35 Stage. I couldn’t think of a bigger example. The crowd reacted hugely. It was one of several Talking Heads originals the band performed, including “This Must Be the Place” and “Road to Nowhere.” The latter was the band’s closing song, and switched into a Ragtime-ish tempo as the band left the stage.
Leading up to the festival, I was checking setlists hoping that two of my favorite songs “Psycho Killer” and “Life During Wartime” might work their way into the shows. Watching them live, I realized that those songs are probably just too dark for a brass backing band. Having seen them live, I have to admit that the choices they made were just perfect.
Now I’m wondering who will end up with more people on stage, Byrne & St. Vincent or Wu-Tang Clan?