Last year’s Maximum Ames Festival was a rousing success for all parties. Featuring multiple shows at multiple venues across Ames, 2011’s event featured tons of local acts, as well as national headliners like The Mountain Goats, Xiu Xiu and Someone Still Loves You, Boris Yeltsin. It is particularly inspiring to see such success from a homegrown, grassroots festival in its very first year. This year’s has kept a lot of the local focus, but upped the ante as far as talent. This year’s headliner is Jeff Mangum, formerly of the highly influential Neutral Milk Hotel. This is a huge get for a fest in its second year. Mangum has rarely played shows over the past decade (although he has been slightly more prolific in 2012). Also scheduled is Rock and Roll Hall of Famer, “The Queen of Rockabilly” Wanda Jackson and the legendary New Orleans Dirt Dozen Brass Band. Here are my ten favorite sets, in chronological order.
Phoenix Lamour Presents: Varitease – Charlie Yoke’s 9/20 8pm
This is a variety show featuring burlesque from Phoenix L’Amour, a fashion show, and comedy from Boone County Comedy (featuring Leslie Hall). The big draw for me is that this is the Ames album release for Trouble Light’s The Endless Prom, an album I was lucky enough to preview and it is terrific.
The Daredevil Christopher Wright w/ Jaw Harp Potential, Plume Giant and Holly and the Night Owls – The Space For Ames 9/20 10pm
Wisconsin folk act Christopher Wright blends a lot of indie sound in his quick and beautiful songs. I also like Jaw Harp Potential and spoke fondly of them a few weeks back on this very website.
Adam Faucett, Christopher the Conquered and People With Heads - Deano’s 9/21 6pm
Christopher the Conquered is always great, but I really, really like Adam Faucett. He has a sort of 1960’s pop sound, like Jan and Dean or The Beach Boys, blended with Dylan-esque folk.
TIRES, Olsen Twinns, Thieves Break Into Buildings, Ex-Action Model – Pixel’s 9/21 6pm
Brilliant, electronic noise from some of Iowa’s best.
Wanda Jackson w/ Daniel Romano and Peace, Love and Stuff – Ames City Auditorium 9/21 7pm
Not much needs to be said here. A true legend and talent and a can’t miss performance. Also, Peace, Love and Stuff are influenced greatly from Wanda Jackson, so I’d imagine they’ll be on their game.
Pennyhawk, Seedlings and Thomas Kivi – Stomping Grounds 9/21 7pm
I have spoke of both Pennyhawk and Seedlings here in the past, but I also really like Minnesota songwriter Thomas Kivi.
HD Harmsen, Derek Lambert, Dear Rabbit, Lesbian Poetry – Vinyl Café 9/22 12pm
A great showcase of three of Iowa’s best. But Dear Rabbit is an incredible talent and a can’t miss.
Jeff Mangum w/ The Music Tapes and Posion Control Center – Ames City Auditorium 9/22 8pm
This is, no joke, maybe the most excited for a show I have ever been. Jeff Mangum is a brilliant and rare talent. He has influenced too many acts to name. To have him in Ames is pretty much insane, but to also have him with The Music Tapes and Iowa legends PCC. Don’t miss. Seriously.
Mount Eerie w/ UUVVWWZ, Paleo, Run-On Sunshine – The Orange Gentleman 9/23 3pm
Formerly of the brilliant band The Microphones, Mount Eerie is a stunning songwriter/producer and one of the most critically acclaimed artists in the world. This show features talented singer-songwriter Paleo, oh and is just at someone’s house. That is kind of neat to me.
Mumford’s w/ Morning Sex and the Good Weed, Ladysoal, The Wheelers, and Old Scratch Revival Singers – Deano’s 9/23 6pm
We end the fest with Mumford’s, who I include not just because they’re awesome, but because Nate Logsdon and Chris Lyng put this fest on, and we should all go thank them for it. Oh, and it’s a good show.
There is just so much more. I limited it to ten, but I should also mention the return of Scented Vinyl with Patrick Tape Fleming of PCC and Mickey Davis of Olsen Twinns, Chloe Carson, Lesbian Poetry with Alex Kintzle, The Olympics and Emperor’s Club, Obsidian’s Dream, Useful Jenkins CD Release and so much more. Get to Ames and to as many of these shows as you can.