Music takes over Des Moines on final day of 80/35

The second and final day of the 80/35 music festival washed over downtown Des Moines with a frenzy of performers.


Wyatt Dlouhy

William Hehir of Misterwives plays the bass during the 2019 80/35 Festival in downtown Des Moines on Saturday, July 13, 2019. Misterwives formed in 2012 and have opened for other artists such as Panic! at the Disco, Twenty One Pilots, and Paramore. (Wyatt Dlouhy/The Daily Iowan).

Lauren Arzbaecher, Arts Reporter

The festival grounds were brimming with energy on the final day of the 80/35 music extravaganza in downtown Des Moines on July 13.

The day started out a bit cooler than the previous one, clouds spotting the sky during And the Kids’ and Lady Revel’s indie-rock and soul performances. The big-band sound of Chicago-based band Sidewalk Chalk shook up the crowd with an alluring mix of hip-hop, jazz, funk, and soul.

Sadat X & El Da Sensei encouraged audience participation in their set on the main Hy-Vee stage, the hip-hop steeped in the style of ’90s East Coast rap. The duo was fully engaged with the audience throughout the performance, directing call-and-response sections in several songs by splitting the crowd in half, each side assigned with a particular lyric. 

The second day featured some of the youngest performers of 80/35, Girls Rock Des Moines taking the Gen Z stage with a lineup of young female groups. Now in its seventh year, Girls Rock is a nonprofit that provides music education for young girls and female-identifying individuals, said Dori Jansma, the president of the organization’s board. 

Wyatt Dlouhy
MarKaus performs at the Iowa Public Radio Live Sessions stage during the 80/35 festival in downtown Des Moines on July 13. The set ended with a cover of “Bulls on Parade,” by Rage Against the Machine. (Wyatt Dlouhy/The Daily Iowan).

“Some of our girls start with some music experience, others have none,” Jansma said. “They learn an instrument, they form a band, they write a song … it’s all about empowerment and finding your voice.”

RELATED: First day of 80/35 fills Des Moines with vibrant music 

Music festivals come with a lot of mouths to feed, and 80/35 had no shortage of food available. Food trucks lined the streets with many delicious offerings, from shaved ice to totchos, Tater Tots adorned with nacho toppings. 

Some artists who had performed the previous night returned to play again on the smaller stages, but many bands made their festival débuts on the second da. Adorned with cowboy hats, the Other Brothers rocked a late-afternoon performance with a red-hot blues sound. Folk duo the Harmeleighs slowed things down, using music to explore such issues such as mental illness as the musicians played songs from their soon to be released concept album She Won’t Make Sense.

80/35 has plenty of donors who help to organize the festival, but what truly makes everything run smoothly is a large staff of volunteers. First-time volunteer Nathan Van Boor said getting involved was relatively easy and very enjoyable.

“Honestly, my favorite thing about 80/35 is the sense of community,” he said. “Everybody here is just smiling and having a good time. Even if they are just coming by to get some shade, they’re still happy to see you.”

Wyatt Dlouhy
Members of the audience cheer as Misterwives performs at the Hy-Vee main stage during 80/35 in downtown Des Moines on July 13. (Wyatt Dlouhy/The Daily Iowan).

The second-to-last band to take the Hy-Vee main stage was Misterwives. Decked out in neon, lead singer Mandy Lee led the explosive pop set as the band made a dancer out of everyone in the crowd. Lee’s high energy was infectious and stirred the audience into a frenzy.

“I have such a girl crush on her,” festival goer Kaitlyn Rote said about Lee after the Misterwives set. “She’s like a new Gwen Stefani. It was amazing.”

And finally, to close out 80/35, it was time for Portugal. The Man. To open the set, the band invited a member of the Iowa Meskwaki Nation up to the stage to perform a traditional Native American dance. A psychedelic light display accompanied the equally psychedelic alt-rock sound, a compilation of dreamlike keyboard and complex guitar riffs.The performance affected the crowd to such an extent that even after the show, much like the band’s hit single, one could feel it still.

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