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Proving Des Moines is NOT boring

In Praise Of The Poison Control Center

I grew up in the 90’s in a somewhat small Iowa town best known for hot-air balloons and a Dodgers third baseman.  I was a bit sheltered and only really listened to whatever was on the radio and whatever I could get 12 for a penny from Columbia House.  Sure, I liked Rancid, Weezer and Radiohead, but I missed out on Pavement, Guided By Voices and Built to Spill until much later in life.  I am kind of embarrassed to admit that, since most music bloggers seem to have been seemingly raised by Matador Records, but it’s the truth.  The beauty of the internet, though, is you can keep up on music you may have missed, while also being exposed to new bands, most of whom were lucky enough to be influenced by the bands I missed out on.  So now, I’d like to think I’m fairly versed.  A bit of a poser, maybe, but versed.

Having said that, Des Moines/Ames Poison Control Center are obviously from the school of  Pollard and Malkmus.  But to me, GBV or Pavement could’ve come from the school of Fleming.  That’s the beauty of PCC.  They wear their influences on their sleeves, but they do it so well, that they could and should be included in that same vein without batting an eye.

I know that seems like high praise, but I guess maybe I’m a little bit attached to what Poison Control Center can do.  They’re high energy in an increasingly lazy world.  They’re endlessly positive in a society that seems to get more and more negative by the second.  They love what they do and love helping others do it.  And they love exposing people to what Iowa can do.  A story I’ve heard from lead singer Patrick Tape Fleming is that he started covering local favorites Christopher the Conquered’s “I’ll Stop Loving You” on the road in Kentucky, and an audience member recognized it as a CtC song because they went to 80-35.  While, I’m sure they didn’t expect anyone to recognize it, just to take the time to play a fellow artists song in a strange place is the kind of thing they like to do.  Spreading the gospel of Iowa in Louisville is what makes a band like PCC so special.

Looking at their collected works without the blinders of nostalgia, I think they are easily in the class of all those bands that inspired them, and should be regarded in the same way.  This seems like high praise, and maybe I’m just a straight up homer for a local band that can produce the way they do.  But anyone that takes the time to listen to one of their albums would hopefully agree with me.

This was originally going to be a review of “Stranger Ballet”, their newest LP, however, I found myself taking notes like:

– Track 1 is awesome.

– Track 2 is pretty awesome, too.

– Track 3 is awesome.

Now while this is technically a review and technically correct, it doesn’t exactly make for the most captivating read.  So short and to the point, I would recommend any of their albums, but do yourself a favor and catch them at Vaudeville Mews July 30th.  Their “Neverending Tour” is coming to an end, and no one likes to perform like they do, and this may be the last chance for a while to see them in their element.  On stage. In Iowa.  There will be a point twenty years down the road where a band comes along and writers, not just Iowans, will say these guys remind me of The Poison Control Center and no one will think that writer is insane, mark my words.  Do yourself a favor and catch them Saturday, so fifteen years from now you can be smug and tell everyone how you saw them before they were huge.


Try Not To Miss Shows 7-28 – 7-31

Poison Control Center – Vaudeville Mews – July 30

PCC headline two shows, one at 5 and one at 9. I actually prefer the
early show because I like opener The Family Unit. They’re a local
band that write fun music that almost sound like a kid’s band. And
since this is an all ages show, maybe bring the young ones along and
let them experience the show.

Caleb Hawley, Matthew Santos, Rachel Platten – Vaudeville Mews – July 28 7pm

A solid night of singer-songwriters. Hawley is especially gifted and
for those who are fans of Ben Kweller or Pete Yorn, Hawley would be
right up your alley.

Yourself and the Air – Vaudeville Mews – July 29 – 930 pm

Good weekend of shows at Vaudeville Mews. Yourself and The Air is a
Chicago band that specialized in spacey indie pop that has become
popular as of late (Best Coast, Beach House, Cotton Jones, etc…).
Good band to chill to.

Hanwell, Project Film, Gracious Defeat – House of Bricks – July 29 – 5pm

Hanwell played 80-35 a while back, and have a very unique sound while
staying true to pop roots. Another good hang out and listen band.

Unknown Component – Mars Cafe – July 29

Keith Lynch is a superb musician and auteur. His understanding of
simple songwriting helps produce some very advanced sounds. He is a
rare artist who I almost enjoy more recorded, but you should still
check out his show and maybe pick up a copy of his album.

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