80/35 to light up Des Moines

The music festival 80/35 returns again to downtown Des Moines on July 12-13 with an exciting slate of performers.


Thomas A. Stewart

The Me 3 performs on the Coca-Cola Gen Z Showcase Stage on Saturday, July 7, 2018. (Thomas A. Stewart/The Daily Iowan)

Lauren Arzbaecher, Arts Reporter

The music festival 80/35 will return to Des Moines for its 12th year on July 12 and 13. The two-day experience will run on the first night and all day on the second with headliners Elle King and Portugal. The Man closing out each night.

The festival is run by the Greater Des Moines Music Coalition, a nonprofit organization that helps to build up the Des Moines music community.

Located in downtown Des Moines, 80/35 is set up along 13th Avenue between Grand Avenue and Locust Street. Entertainment is available to everyone, with both ticketed and free stages hosting artists, along with various art and food vendors.

There are a few new additions to 80/35 this year, including an additional stage in the ticketed area and a larger Iowa Public Radio stage, said Greater Des Moines Music Coalition board member Justin Schoen.

Thomas A. Stewart
Josh Carter performs with his band Phantogram on Friday, July 6, 2018. He is known for his guitar and vocals.(Thomas A. Stewart/The Daily Iowan)

“We wanted to increase the overall value to ticket holders,” he said. “We reconfigured the whole layout, and that gave us the opportunity to add a second stage where we didn’t previously have one. IPR has always had kind of a small stage at the festival. This year, that is going to be more of a full-blown stage, so we will have three stages in the free area.”

This year’s lineup features 43 musical acts from various genres, from hip-hop to folk and Americana. Headliners are always exciting to have at the festival, but Schoen said he really enjoys showcasing up-and-coming acts.

“You get to see a whole slate of musicians, some who are on their way up to being headlining acts in the next few years,” Schoen said. “A couple of bands that will perform, like Misterwives and Yungblud, I think you’ll see those artists headlining in the future, and you can see them now a little bit further down the bill as they gain popularity.”

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While the festival draws artists from all around the country and even the world, many of the performers hail from various parts of Iowa. A few bands based in Iowa City are slated to perform this year on the free stages, including Younger and Crystal City, which will both make their 80/35 débuts.

Younger is an Iowa City staple, performing every year at Mission Creek and at practically every downtown concert venue. The all-female trio has gained quite a following locally, and guitarist Rachel Sauter echoed the group’s excitement about expanding the group’s reach outside of Iowa City.

Thomas A. Stewart
A graffiti artist sprays plywood on Saturday, July 7, 2018. (Thomas A. Stewart/The Daily Iowan)

“As far as getting out of town, it’s just nice to have exposure out of Iowa City,” she said. “I feel like here, everyone knows who we are. But then we go to Des Moines, and people tell us we’re great and ask where we came from, and we’re like, here. We’re from Iowa.”

Crystal City is an indie-rock group fronted by Dave Helmer and Sam Drella. Fresh off the release of the band’s new album Three-Dimensionality, Helmer said he is happy to play music for a larger audience.

“We just put out a new record, so I’m looking forward to playing a lot of the tunes from our new album in front of a nice crowd,” he said. “I’m really lucky to have a real talented band, and honestly, I’m just excited to hear my friends play through a big PA system to a large crowd of people.”

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