SASAMI shakes the Mill to its core with dream-pop

SASAMI brought her groundbreaking alternative sound to the Mill in a performance on July 21.


Katie Goodale

SASAMI performs at the Mill on July 21, 2019.

Lauren Arzbaecher, Arts Reporter

Guitar reverberated around room, echoing amid a complex synthesized soundscape. The audience rocked along as dream-pop artist SASAMI performed at the Mill on July 21.

The show was put on by Mission Creek as part of a collaboration between the Mill and the Englert for year-round programming. Claire Barrett, the Englert interim marketing director, said the recent partnership has opened up opportunities for more artists to perform in Iowa City throughout the year.

“Sometimes, we don’t have the opportunity to have an artist like SASAMI at the festival because the timing doesn’t work out,” she said. “This [partnership] means we have the ability to bring a lot of these artists who, for whatever reason, we might miss during that one week in April. That really allows us to build out the types of artists that college students are looking toward throughout the year.”

SASAMI is a rising star of dream-pop, also known as shoegaze, a subgenre of alternative rock. Her début album, SASAMI was released earlier this year, showcasing her captivating soundscapes of synthesizer and guitar.

Katie Goodale
SASAMI performs at the Mill on July 21, 2019.

“SASAMI has been in the music industry for 10 years, and this year is the first album she’s had solo,” Barrett said. “She fits with the audience that attends Mission Creek, and SASAMI’s following with college students is pretty massive as well. It’s not something we’d be able to have at the Englert yet, partially just because of the size of houses that SASAMI is playing right now.”

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The artist has a unique background in the music world, crossing different genres throughout her performance history. Savannah Lane, an Englert programming assistant, admires the artist.

“She has a really cool backstory that I don’t think is super common,” Lane said in an email to The Daily Iowan. “She played with Cherry Glazerr, whom I love, she scored orchestral arrangements, she was a music teacher, and she’s produced music for other artists. You can tell that she has a vast understanding of her craft.”

Quad Cities band Condor and Jaybird opened the night. The psych-pop group recently performed at the 80/35 festival in Des Moines and also played as part of the Mission Creek Festival in 2017. Its inventive sound paired well with SASAMI.

Barrett said additional programming at the Mill will allow for more performances from such area bands as Condor and Jaybird.

Katie Goodale
Condor and Jaybird open for SASAMI at the Mill on July 21, 2019.

“Being able to program at the Mill means there is a little more accessibility, especially financially, for shows,” Barrett said. “It also means that for any future shows, more local artists are going to get to play with these national bands.”

SASAMI entered the stage after the opener, her band members wearing red jump suits embellished with sparkling gold initials. She had a commanding presence from the get-go, asking all audience members to come rock out with her in front of the stage. Each song was performed with great intensity, powerful vocals, and a vibrant mix of guitar reverb, all of which brought a rise out of the audience.

“My favorite part was the energy,” audience member Ashley Kelly said. “It was really fun, and I could just like feel everybody having a good time, which made me have even more fun.”

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