Mod Sun makes Iowa City a part of the movie of his life on tour at Gabe’s

Mod Sun brought his “Your Favorite Movie” tour to Iowa City on Thursday at Gabe’s.


Tate Hildyard

Up and coming rapper, Mod Sun headlines at Gabes in downtown Iowa City on Thursday, March 5, 2020. “Mod Sun is like positive hippy rap”- Davenport citizen/Mod Sun fan, Chandler Carpenter.

Megan Conroy, Arts Reporter

The second floor of Gabe’s crowded with people while the bass kept the beat on Thursday night. Empty cups and audience members lined the ledges of the walls in anticipation of Mod Sun, the self-proclaimed “hippy rapper” whose songs tell stories of how his life has changed by making music.

Audience members clad in various styles of tie-dye, fishnet leggings, and glitter on their faces united for an energy-filled night of dancing, love, and music.

Before each show, Mod Sun channels the musicians he idolizes. He doesn’t know if there’s an afterlife, but nevertheless, he recites a prayer, that says although there is an abundance of shows worldwide at 9 p.m. each night, he hopes they will tune into his.

“If there’s an afterlife, every night my idols like Jim Morrison, Janis Joplin, Lou Reed, and Jimi Hendrix are all sitting there and they want to watch a show,” he said.

Mod Sun’s tour is titled, “Your Favorite Movie.” He believes that his life is a movie, and the tour is part of it.

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“I’m building my own movie right now. I want to love my movie, I want to watch my movie at the end of my life and be entertained,” Mod Sun said.

Now 32 years old, Mod Sun’s “Your Favorite Movie” tour is making its second stop in Iowa City after a hometown show in Minnesota earlier in the week.

“I swear I will never tour again without coming to this city again, that’s a promise,” he said during the show.

Mod Sun is an artist of many mediums, including painting and poetry, so his show included many forms of music. He played the piano and the harmonica simultaneously at one point, rapping while playing piano at another, and did a drum solo between songs.

Mod Sun performed songs old and new. Some old songs included “Tell Me All Your Secrets,” “HappyBB,” and “Free Love.” The new music has yet to be released, so it was almost like an exclusive listening party. He performed “Battle Scars” and “Amen” from his upcoming album.

Each song was performed with strobe lights of different colors; pink, purple, green, blue, and bright white. The smile on his face illuminated more than the lights that drenched Mod Sun for his whole set. He radiated a spirit from the stage that energized the crowd, who returned that energy. He was fueled by the cheering, by the people who knew the lyrics, by everyone in the room.

Born and raised in Minnesota, Mod Sun said he can’t imagine going on a tour without visiting Midwest states.

“I’m essentially trying with the whole new era that I’m on musically to go back to where it all started for me, which is here in the midwest,” Mod Sun said. “You know, when you could only leave home for a couple days because you’re in high school and your parents are freaking out that you’re leaving at all, you can only go the states around you.”

“Your Favorite Movie” tour is different from the previous tours he’s done. According to Mod Sun, this is the first tour he has ever done “cleaned up from drugs and alcohol.”

“I’m clean off of hard drugs, which I was on for six years, really bad,” Mod Sun said. “And I’ve been drinking heavily since I was 16. It’s part of the touring lifestyle. It’s like that saying if you hang around the barbershop long enough you’re going to get your hair cut.”

During the show, he announced that he was 300 days clean, which received a roaring cheer from the crowd.

Mod Sun’s dancing, happiness, and overall energy during each song had everyone in the room jumping and dancing with each other so enthusiastically that the floor was shaking beneath them. It was evident that the new chapter in his life — the music and everything in between — has given him more than just another favorite scene from the movie of his life. He commanded the stage with happiness and vivacity.

“I have this amazing narrative going on. I changed my life, like a caterpillar to a butterfly. The stars are crazy, how they align for you at points in your life that push you to the destiny you’re supposed to have and mine are definitely lining up right now,” Mod Sun said.