28,000 attend downtown music fest
The Decemberists, The Black Lips and an estimated 28,000 people bring the 80/35 music festival to a close in downtown Des Moines.
Thousands flocked to Western Gateway Park on Saturday to embrace national, regional and local artistic talent during the second day of the 80/35 Music Festival.
An estimated 28,000 people attended the Des Moines Music Coalition-curated event, marking about 8,000 fewer than the estimated 36,000 who attended in 2015 but more than in 2014, which drew about 26,000. About 11,000 people attended the paid area and 17,000 the free stages.
About 650 people volunteered to help run the event.
“We brought two essential noncommercial quality acts to Des Moines,” 80/35 project manager Amedeo Rossi said. “This expands the palate of music and inspires.”
Miss Day 2 of the festival? Looking to relive every moment? Think you missed something potentially life-changing?
Here’s a look at what went down during the second and final day of 80/35.
A flash mob … yoga-style
Festivalgoers diverged eyes from the multiple music stages early in the festival Saturday because of an acro yoga flash mob that briefly commandeered the intersection of Locust and 13th streets.
The group of about 20 drew applause and jeers from the audience as it performed various moves on the mat.
“We wanted to surprise Des Moines,” said Deb Giddings, who organized the flash mob. “A lot of people in Des Moines don’t know this exists, and we thought they would have fun watching this sort of thing as a surprise.”
Metal hits the main stage
For the first time in festival history, two heavy-oriented bands took to 80/35 stages: Druids at 1:30 p.m. on the Hy-Vee Main Stage, and Green Death on the Nationwide stage at 8:15 p.m. Both bands are Des Moines-based and brought performances laced with energy and punch.
Luke Rauch, guitarist and vocalist for Druids, said he wasn’t sure what to expect walking into the show, but, after the experience, he admitted to loving the experience.
Things got so metal during Green Death that a brief mosh pit broke out during the band’s popular track “Manufacturing Evil.”
DJ Green Lantern ‘digging’ Des Moines
Get this: Nas’ DJ headlined an afterparty at the Des Moines Social Club on Friday night. The show hit capacity an hour after starting, and he enjoyed performing so much that he decided he wanted to come back and perform again at Saturday night’s afterparty.
“I have a show tomorrow in Detroit,” Lantern said Saturday afternoon. "I was going to go and hang out in Detroit, (and) that’s cool, but I had so much fun at the club here last night and they were like, ‘Yo, you wanna come back tomorrow?’ ”
During the interview, he also discussed performing Friday night alongside main stage headliner Nas. He said he has been "digging" his time in Des Moines.
“I was really amazed at the level of people that knew words to songs that were like deep album cuts from 20 years, not just the hits,” he said. “The level of excitement, man, that was amazing, man. I loved it.”
December(ists) in July
The Decemberists' Saturday headlining can be defined simply: charming and whimsical. Frontman Colin Meloy engaged the crowd during pockets and slivers of the set (including a shoutout to Vaudeville Mews) that proved to be quite an entertaining close to the evening.
The band’s set, which lasted about an hour and 50 minutes, featured crowd-pleasing tracks such as “The Rake's Song,” “The Crane Wife” and “The Mariner’s Revenge Song.”
First-time festivalgoer Chris Apeling, of Janesville, Iowa, said he enjoyed his time at the show, planted firmly in the front row against the barricade. He drove for the festival but said he was most excited for The Decemberists.
“I always expected it to be a little more crowded, but it’s got a nice layout and easy access,” Apeling said.
Nine years and counting
After the Black Lips’ 7 p.m. performance and before The Decemberists’ headlining performance, Rossi took the stage to address festival attendees.
“You’re here because we want you supporting music the 51 other weeks of the year,” Rossi said.
Rossi paid tribute in his speech to the late David Hurd, a Des Moines businessman who took his life this year, saying Hurd stood behind the festival in its early stages.
He announced that 80/35 will be starting a David Hurd Award for Community Leadership that will be awarded as a cash prize. He said later that he hopes to deliver the first award by next year’s festival.
“He has built this community in so many ways,” Rossi said, choking back tears. “I’m hoping there are some David Hurds out there.”
Attendees of the festival appeared pleased overall with the event. Chet Mellema, of Waukee, said it’s his fourth time attending and that he’d return.
“I look for the headliner first and then branch out to some other bands,” said Mellema, who’s originally from the Waterloo area. “80/35 was a draw this year because (Waterloo bands) Twins and Sires were playing.”
Now with its ninth year in the books, the festival plans to return for a 10th edition.
“We’re already looking forward to celebrating 10 years next year in a big way,” Rossi said.
REVISIT DAY 1: Five moments you must see from 80/35 on Friday