Wing Dam sounds like Kate Bush fronting a Mudhoney tribute band. The 3-piece just released Glow Ahead, their third LP. The band plays Black Cat on Thursday, August 25, Windup Space on Saturday, August 27 and The Hideout on Wednesday, September 14. They will not be playing Iowa on this tour.
The following is by Austin Tally, guitarist for Wing Dam.
This is not meant as an insult to the fine people of Iowa. I’m sure that there are amazing treasures to be found in your home state. I’m sure that there are beautiful things waiting for those with the patience, the local knowledge, and the time to seek them out.
But we had none of those things. This is about our experience from one stagnantly, oppressively hot evening in August of 2014. I had never been to Iowa before. Probably would have had a near-impossible time pointing out Des Moines on a map of the state. But as a band we were all excited for any new experience — this was our first national tour and we were seeing most of the cities we played for the first time.
We pulled into town with about two hours to spare before load-in. The drive from Kansas had been kind to us, no hills or scenery to slow us down. Nothing but flat fields, the occasional barn and silo. The occasional truck of livestock that rumbled past and left a foul waft of captive animal stink in the air over the freeway behind it.
We were hungry. We got out of the car, and heard the noises of a rowdy bar across the street. It was about 4 PM. Walking around the block to get the lay of the land, we witnessed a young gentleman get kicked out of the bar; he threatened to beat the shit out of someone, yelling, no one else on the street paying the incident any mind. Didn’t look like the bar served food anyway. Across the street was a massive restaurant called The Spaghetti Factory – they were cranking out enormous pasta dishes and the outdoor area was completely packed. Enormous pasta dishes, outside, in the near-triple-digits heat next to the four-lane roads and the guys fighting down the street and an acoustic band covering Bob Marley in a park two blocks away. Let’s get together and feel alright. We settled on a very dark English-style pub with giant burgers and lots of Guinness memorabilia.
Then there was an uneventful load-in, uneventful sound check, and a very small number of guests trickling in to the venue as the first band (the only local band) started. Outside the venue was a free event under some tents and around some picnic tables. DJs were playing, beer was cheap – and our show inside had a cover of $10 or something. Easy decision for the Des Moines locals who obviously had no idea who we were, so why bother? Before our set started I stepped outside to take a look. The party was crowded. A man was sitting at the picnic table with his forehead down on the picnic table and was slowly vomiting under the picnic table on the concrete.
I don’t remember how we played. I’m sure it was fine, but nothing special. I don’t remember if we sold any merch. We probably didn’t. The crowd remained small. But when 2 AM rolled around, we had to find somewhere to spend the night. We had no money, no friends in town. Abe, who had wordlessly nominated himself as the band’s official Sleeping Accommodations Scout, found a man who was either 1) very drunk, 2) a fan of our band, 3) a generous, kind person, 4) someone who didn’t give a shit either way – or some combination of those.
He gave us directions, and we made it to his second floor apartment across town before 3. Some of his friends came home with us and we sat on the roof for a little bit and drank beers. Then he gave us a little tour of his place. One front room, with a couch and a TV and lots of video games. One bedroom that we never saw. And a small kitchen that was half filled – and I mean literally half FILLED – with a mountain of empty beer cans. Actually, the entire apartment had a layer of empties on the floor (I can only assume that the bedroom was similarly decorated) that rattled and crunched as we walked and I am sure that some of them were only partially empty and had been that way for quite some time.
I used my backpack like a little snowplow and cleared myself a place on the floor by the couch, cans piling up against the wall and the shelf of video games. Was he saving these cans to return them for money? Was he fundamentally opposed to both recycling and garbage removal? Was he merely lazy – extremely, artistically, impressively – lazy? I would never learn the answer to those questions. We left in the morning for Chicago. What other experiences could have been? What different picture of Des Moines could I have, to this day, etched in my memory? What could we have done differently?
We probably should have gone to The Spaghetti Factory.