Getting weird in Iowa City: Yacht Club showcases bizarre bands in its second Free Weird Music Show

Yacht Club hosted its second Free Music Show, delivering on its namesake with a truly memorable and bizzare concert.


Hayden Froehlich

Experimental music group “Drop Bear,” performs in the Yacht Club on Tuesday, Oct. 29th, 2019. Their songs focused on breaking down typical methods of music performance with methods like playing through their mouth pieces and playing the Ghostbusters theme at ludicrous speeds. (Hayden Froehlich/The Daily Iowan.)

Austin J. Yerington, Arts Reporter

Lately, I’ve been into more experimental sounds while searching for new music, so when I heard that the Yacht Club was hosting a Free Weird Music concert, I was beyond intrigued. After walking into the near-empty venue, the brief 40-minute concert started, and the music got delightfully weirder as the show continued.

Sam Alexakis, sole member of one-man-bad The Only Ion, kicked off the show with his uniquely poetic, electric sound. Dress in a black beanie with a gold crown on top, Alexakis’ songs seemed to dance around in genres such as R&B, alternative, and funk. 

The third song is where my interest peaked. Featuring a jazzy slow piano, with a drum set laying out a deep steady beat, Alexakis rhythmically sung out his striking lyrics. I was enthralled. 

Alexakis really emphasized the “weird” aspect when he played with electric sound mixers placed on the stage. The instrument would emit an otherworldly reverb — definitely not something one would hear on Top 100 radio stations. 

Related: Hawkeyes form Cowpoke: A band without labels

Alexakis‘ creative and unique music style contained unexpected samples to familiar melodies. The sampling created a surprising juxtaposition, particularly when samples from Disney’s *Robin Hood* could be heard faintly in the background as Alexakis rapped over the beat. 

After the bass and lyric-heavy performance, Dropbear, a bassoon and saxophone duo, began their  set. Saxophonist Justin K. Comer stepped onto the stage dressed as a bunny coming out of a hat, while bassoonist Gabi Vanek dressed as a crocodile hunter. The band sat their namesake, a stuffed koala bear named Dropbear, on a barstool between them. This humorous and striking sight was just a taste of what was to come. 

“I hope you like whiplash, because this will be totally different than what you just heard,” Cromer said.

Dropbear proceeded to play what I can only describe as ASMR mixed with experimental jazz. The shift from electronic, lyrical music to a random, woodwind jam session was a sharp contrast to the previous performance — a cacophony of random noises and clicks with silence filling the empty spaces between. Dropbear proceeded to play their sporadic sounds until it evolved into Cromer quietly playing his disconnected saxophone mouthpiece.

The avant-garde performance was truly an original experience. I never expected to see two people take the stage, start with screeching woodwinds, and then shift drastically to a faint mouthpiece-breathing performance.

After a solid five minutes, the first song ended. The duo then began their second, and last, song of the night. The track began with at least 45 seconds of quickly popping sounds, random breaths, and honks from their instruments. However, Vanek’s bassoon took over with an actual bassoon riff — the first hint of “real” sounding music of the night. As the song continued, I could faintly hear the remains of the *Ghostbusters* theme song shining through.

The performance literally made my jaw drop at the start, but my shock quickly turned into a massive smile. I came for weird music, and Yacht Club delivered it tenfold. I have never in my lifetime seen something so bizarre, yet so confidently done. After the duo and otherworldly-sounding band, the concert came to an end. The crowd was small, but they gave an energetic reaction to the performance. I will definitely be at the next Yacht Club Weird Music Concert for another memorable concert.