Looking Back: The Year in Concerts #2-1

This is it - after much deliberating, ruminating, and downright arguing, the honors of being the two best concerts Iowa City offered this year have been laid down. We are very pleased this Sunday afternoon to present:


2. Girl Talk w. Dan Deacon :: Picador 10/06/07

Seeing Girl Talk in Chicago at the Pitchfork Festival left a bitter taste in my mouth and it wasn’t from the four-dollar beers I had been drinking since 10:30 A.M. Inexplicably, Girl Talk played on the smallest stage, and rather than see Yoko Ono (good choice, hipsters), most festival-goers placed their bets on Mr. Gillis’ digital dance off. But therein lay the problems: nothing could be seen and the music was barely audible. Adding insult to injury, Mission Freak editor Todd O. got caught between two friendly young men who, in their revelry, heeded neither the fact that you couldn’t hear any music nor the notion of personal space. Grind on one, grind on all, it seemed. The humor of the scenario was not lost on us, but still…we came to see Girl Talk and failed.

Flash forward to October 6th: Girl Talk and Dan Deacon have taken the Picador captive, and yeah, it’s my birthday. After a long line and a missing guest list, all the members of the Freak were present and accounted for. Dan Deacon set up on the floor like a preacher bringing the gospel of the Trippy Green Skull directly to the people. I eagerly awaited my conversion to the Church of the Crystal Cat. Deacon — not the man, but the experience — is better served in the flesh than explained, but in a single breath: sweat, dance, strobe, skull, dance, sweat, strobe, cat, sweat, shake. Deacon the man became Deacon the prophet, his sermon breathing new life into us all. We thought we had seen it all, but fuck that: we had never seen Dan Deacon.

Life After Deacon: Dane Cook merits no reference in any publication ever, but to paraphrase that unfunny bastard, sometimes you just need to dance, and so when Girl Talk plugged in we got down like the world might be ending outside and this was the final Bacchanalian triumph. It was so infectious that we even got down with each other – wonderful dude-on-dude action, elevated to new heights as shirts flew off our torsos. Rather than shy away from it, we embraced the absurdity. You may have seen me and you may have laughed, but don’t judge me: it was my birthday. (Tanner)


1. Tilly and the Wall w. Baby Teeth, Golden Birds :: Mill 03/30/07

I wonder how much we seek out our own destinies and how much of our fate is pre-determined by greater powers. Well, a couple things are for certain: Tilly and her fabulous Wall were sought out to play at the Mill and once they arrived it seemed as if the fates would have had it no other way. Perhaps one of the most legendary concerts to happen in Iowa City in years, this dramatic line-up gained early momentum with a mellow yet captivating set from New York City’s Golden Birds. By the time they took the stage, lead singer Web McBride’s handsome mug smiling at the audience, the crowd had packed itself tightly into the warm wooden confines of the Mill. Folks were eager for Tilly but the Golden Birds, with their lyrically dense and melodic songwriting, massaged the rising anticipation in the room, tempting us with lush three-part harmonies and ultimately seducing us with precious lines like: “I’m gonna bring her apples when she’s in need/ After I suck the cyanide from the seeds”

Chicago’s Baby Teeth followed the Birds, impossibly satisfying the Tilly-hungry crowd with their Queen-revivalist glam-rock. Balancing the line between intelligent song-craft and full-on dance hits, Baby Teeth upped the sweat quotient. Beers were emptied, hips were shaken, and arms were raised. Nevertheless, the fever pitch swelled as Tilly took the stage. The eyes of those passionate little indie rock children began tilting to the backs of their heads as they tripped the wall fantastic. All of the elements of the previous bands — boy-girl harmonies, dance-inducing, fist-pumping anthems, and a sense of positive energy — were realized to their full potential with Tilly’s carnival-like performance. And there’s really no other way to describe them other than carnival-like: this band traipsed onto stage with the energy of cannons; like witnessing Napolean on the charge, or the swift stroke of Alexander’s sword, the sight of Thor’s hammer striking a powder-keg of joy or watching a score of miniature pixie-winged Tinker-bells bursting from the skull of a hobbit. Tilly left us wet and we retreated to the corners of the Mill, tap-dance clicks ironed to the backs of our minds. They were playing as part of a festival (Mission Creek 2007), yet they had brought their own self-contained fete to the Mill instead.

… but it wasn’t over…

As closing time inched its sorrowful curtain over the edges of the evening, an encore of unthinkable proportions descended upon the Mill. Shot from their nether-regions of a space odyssey monolith, former Iowa City gutter-hoppers Bad Fathers stormed into the Mill as Tilly was packing up their gear. It made no sense. This had not been sought out, this had not been planned. Yet the fates, from time to time, must indeed have their way with us. It was slightly unbelievable to witness and utterly ridiculous to demand of us weary patrons, but the Bad Fathers delivered a short, powerful set that injected the room with one last shot in the arm. The children, drunk with music, returned to the dance floor as Auto, Juan, and company threw out call and responses like predators toss out crack in the ghetto. But these little rocks weren’t meant to infect our bodies with the socio-economic diseases of a crumbling republic. Rather their intent was to remind us that power belongs to the people, that soul remains in music, and that coming together as one joyful glob on a Friday night is an important way of renewing faith in this fucked up dog-eat-dog world. There is hope after all. Now get thee to a caucus and show fate who’s holding the motherfucking cards. (Andre)

Please stay tuned all week as we unveil our five favorite albums from 2007!!

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