The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

Warlock Hour Festival 2: The perfect birthday celebration

The Warlock Hour Festival 2 at Gabe’s Iowa City featured a wide range of performing acts on Saturday throughout the night to celebrate the birthday of organizer and local musician, Kane Edwards.
Sahithi Shankaiahgari
Early Girl performs at the Warlock Hour Festival 2 at Gabe’s in Iowa City Downtown on Saturday, Oct. 14, 2023. (Sahithi Shankaiahgari/The Daily Iowan)

The lights in the second-floor space of Gabe’s Iowa City dimmed at 4 p.m. over the audience, some of whom were dressed as warlocks in long capes and elaborate eye makeup for the occasion.

Gabe’s hosted the second annual Warlock Hour Festival on Saturday. A wide variety of performing acts were featured throughout the night and into the next day, ranging from standup comedy skits to head-banging music.

All proceeds from the ticket sales at the door were donated to the Iowa Trans Mutual Aid, an organization founded in June 2021 on the belief that gender-affirming care should be available for every transgender, nonbinary, and gender-diverse Iowan. 

The first Warlock Hour Festival was held last year on Oct. 15. Kane Edwards, an event booker and a friend of the owners of Gabe’s, organized the event as their birthday celebration. They officially began celebrating at midnight during the show.

“Last year, I wanted to have a big fun birthday party. Like I’ve never booked a festival type of thing before so it sounded fun,” Edwards said. 

This year, they chose to donate to the Iowa Trans Mutual Aid in light of recent and highly controversial legislation limiting gender-affirming care for trans and non-binary individuals.

“I feel like a lot of good queer and trans representation from our town supports this cause in a lot of ways,” Edwards said in reference to the lineup of performers, many of whom identify as trans or nonbinary. 

The Warlock Hour Festival was inspired by the Witching Hour Festival, an event organized in collaboration between the Englert Theatre and Little Village Magazine in 2021. Edwards said they chose the name based on the way they have always thought of themself as a “warlock.” 

Several performances lined up for the festival were held at Gabe’s, and audience members casually milled around between the main level and the beer garden to hear the music, swapping conversations and sipping drinks between sets. When the equipment for the next performance was set up, everyone eagerly turned their attention to the stage. 

The audience seemed to enjoy every unique act, one of which was Early Girl, an all-queer power pop band based in Iowa City. 

Before the band’s set, they wished Kane a happy birthday while tuning their electric blue guitar. Early Girl’s launch into their set, backed by rhythm and production effects from their computer, quickly drew a small crowd to the stage. Listeners nodded their heads or swayed to the rock songs reverberating around the space.

RELATED: Titus Andronicus tears up stage at Gabe’s

Early Girl announced it was officially the one-year anniversary of the band’s creation, and they encouraged everyone to listen to their newest song on streaming platforms, which they played at the conclusion of their set. 

The festival was largely made up of Kanye’s close friends. As a member of several bands themself, including Death Kill Overdrive, they knew quite a few local artists. The festival gave these musicians like Early Girl an opportunity to showcase their talent. 

Logan Kha and Brendan Fauble, University of Iowa fourth-year students, attended the festival to hear their fellow musicians play. They frequented Gabe’s as performers themselves. Fauble was also close friends with Early Girl’s vocalist and guitarist, Aaron Longoria. 

“They’re one of the reasons I keep coming to shows and kind of staying stuck around here. I mean, they’ve been so great to me,” Fauble said. “It’s cool to see them kind of doing what they’re doing.”

Kha said the bargain for the festival was great, as well as the donations of proceeds. He encouraged more people to attend events at Gabe’s.

“I think it’s great,” Kha said. “I would say it’s a really cool, flourishing music scene.”

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About the Contributor
Stella Shipman
Stella Shipman, Arts Editor
Stella Shipman is a junior undergraduate at the University of Iowa majoring in English and Creative Writing and minoring in Cinema. A former Arts Reporter, she loves reviewing shows and covering musical performances. She hopes to encourage more students to engage in the vibrant arts community of Iowa City. This is her second year working at The Daily Iowan.