Opinion | Keep local performances alive

Iowa City-based band performances are vital for the city’s art scene.


Lilly Stence

Adam Meisterhans plays a guitar during a show at Gabe’s in Iowa City on Nov. 17, 2022.

Katie Perkins, Opinions Contributor

Dive bars with rickety stages are an essential part of downtown Iowa City’s charm.

Supporting local bands by going out to shows is not only a fun way to spend your evening, but it’s also an essential part of keeping the arts alive by integrating them into nightlife.

With Iowa City being a Midwestern hub for the arts, it has never shied away from facilitating live performances. Between The Airliner, Elray’s Live & Dive, Gabe’s, and other local bars, there are plenty of opportunities to watch live music by up-and-coming bands.

I talked to two members of the Barrel Bros, a local country-rock cover band that frequently plays in Airliner and Elray’s.

Pat Sheehy, a University of Iowa fourth-year student and lead singer of Barrel Bros, said people are at a loss when they do not go out of their way to support local bands.

“[You are] missing out on a big piece of Iowa City that brings a lot of people together,” Sheehy said. “There are a lot of places that you can walk into on a Friday or Saturday night where the atmosphere is really brought up by live music.”

Danny McLaughlin, a fourth-year UI student and lead guitarist of Barrel Bros, said bringing joy to other people and having fun along the way is his favorite part of performing in Iowa City.

For the Barrel Bros, music was a passion-filled hobby that turned into something more.

“Whether it’s a big crowd or small, as long as some of our friends and supporters are there getting into it, it’s always fun for us,” Sheehy said.

The Barrel Bros are one of many bands created by college students that are based in the Iowa City area. When the audience is composed of locals, there is an exchange between performer and crowd that wouldn’t be possible in a massive stadium or concert hall.

Whether it be requesting your favorite song to a cover band or introducing yourself to band members and making connections, these small concerts bring people together in a way that only artistry can.

Supporting Iowa City talent also helps the local economy by offering profits to bars and other venues. Small concerts have something we all can benefit from.

Appreciating music is one thing, but going out of your way to support it is another. The least we can do is get behind them in their bold and lively effort to produce live music for the community.

The importance of supporting local bands is to keep the arts alive, and the importance of keeping the arts alive is to keep creativity, community, and beauty flourishing in this little artistic city that we all love.

Columns reflect the opinions of the authors and are not necessarily those of the Editorial Board, The Daily Iowan, or other organizations in which the author may be involved.