Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Iowa City (Or, "Thunderstorms and Grain Belt are Chasing Me.")

Today I have a day off in Iowa City.

Last night we performed at this interesting little place called PS1 (not to be confused with PS1 in Long Island City). PS1 (Iowa) is a small public art space in the basement of the Jefferson Building, which is on the edge of Iowa City's UI Campus.

It is small, intimate and decorated with Christmas tree lights and an intensely neon mural on the far side of the room. It is filled with folding chairs and a few sofas and benches. The space isn't designed for music, the PA is small and the room is HOT. But they do what they can to make the artist comfortable and also use it to host fiction and non-fiction readings, art openings and other events of cultural import in Iowa City.

I would recommend it for artists who don't have a big rep and are low on the gear requirements. Two of the opening artists played without using the PA and the sound carried fairly well. If you've got a big voice, you can totally take this room on sans amplification.

The downtown of the city is dominated by a large pedestrian mall that has a crapload of bars lining it. Most of them are college-y, frat-type places that have cheap drink specials and horrible music playing (think John Cougar Mellencamp being enjoyed non-ironically).

All bars weren't lame though - we did stop by this one bar just off that main drag called The Picador, which was pretty rad. They had two dollar well drinks and both of my travel companions (RC and Greer) got pretty wasted. Me too. They also had a bottled beer for $1.50 that was called "Grain Belt". Not my favorite, kinda fruity aftertaste, but you could do way worse for that price.

The back of the bar is dominated by a medium sized beer garden, and our bartender, Colin (who has a band called Super Sonic Piss) was kind enough to lay off the hip-hop for ahile and play us a bunch of Mike Judge animated shorts that were freaking rad.

We are staying with a friend here, his name is Caleb Engstrom and he has a pretty impressive collection of visual as well as audio work that he has executed. Check him out on the myspace. He is also one of the kindest and best band hosts in the world. This morning I got coffee, cantaloupe, banana, clean towel and shower. So I am off to an awesome start.

Last night we got rained on hard and there was a giant thunderstorm. Pretty awesome mid-west type weather, but it was scary in light of the recent flooding and the giant piles of sandbags still floating around the town.

Since I have the day off today, and the weather looks like it is clearing up, I am going to try to find this mysterious "co-op" where people get really delicious looking sandwiches. If you have any suggestions on what-to-do or where-to-go in Iowa City, give me a heads up!

LINK : www.grainbelt.com
LINK : The Picador
LINK : PS! Iowa City
DOWNLOAD : Caleb Engstrom - The Happiest


kumar said...
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blake said...

I enjoyed reading your travel blogs. I'm jealous of your summer music wanderings.