Review: 80/35 Festival: Jenny Lewis and Wilco – Des Moines, IA – July 10, 2015
Published by JB on 7/15/2015
The 80/35 event has become the dominant (ok, competition is slim I know) festival in Iowa and has turned the corner from being something of a mere hope that one of your favorite bands might be there – to a nearly can’t-miss affair guaranteed to bring in a few of the best of the best.
This was no more evident than on July 15th and day 1 of the festival when the elite duo of the sun-dripped Jenny Lewis (thank God the skies were sunny for her set) and the always blistering and never disappointing Wilco. Halfway through her set Lewis said, “I never imagined I’d be around this many people in Des Moines”. That comment prompted some twisted faces but it meant well, and for good reason. Des Moines has never been the heartbeat of indie pop or rock. When Jenny Lewis was building a decade’s worth of elite pop as both a solo artist and the leader of Rilo Kiley the last place on the earth she ever thought she’d land surrounded by thousands of cheering, well-tanned fans was the middle of Iowa.
Her set was a cavity-building affair of perfect, sugary California pop – which now features the equally bright and sunny Tristen on background vocals, something last summer’s tour did not have. Lewis simply drips Vitamin E and onstage she’s nothing less than masterful. Keep in mind she’s no pushover with strong, socially conscious lyrics bleeding into many of her best songs – including many of those from the Rilo Kiley days. Lewis is a unique talent, both as an early actor to finally now etching herself on the indie Mount Rushmore a little bit more every year. That’s what having one of the greatest solo indie albums of all time will do for you. 2014 was a great year for Jenny Lewis – enough so to carryover well into 2015. She’s found her mark again and with another album hopefully due in the 24-36 months she has momentum like never before.
Wilco simply couldn’t play a bad show if they tried. Ranging from the beautifully chaotic ‘Via Chicago’ to ‘Kamera’ to the staple ‘Impossible Germany’, Wilco has reached the point where they don’t ever need to tour again behind a new album as a backdrop. Their catalog and following is like the Grateful Dead or Paul McCartney. Who cares if they have a new album? In fact they haven’t released truly new material since 2011. Tweedy is still sharp as a tack, Nels Cline plays like he’s still 24 and they’re still pound for pound in the top 5 for bands that have fans with cassette collections at home.