Jan 14, 2022 - Things to Do

What to watch for in Des Moines music in 2022

Multiple musical notes merging into one

Illustration: Lazaro Gamio/Axios

2021 was a strange year for music in Des Moines and 2022 seems like it'll continue that way as Omicron shakes up venues and festivals.

  • Sam Summers, owner of Wooly's and First Fleet Concerts, shared with Axios what to expect from the local scene.

The next big thing: Expect to see more DIY and underground/basement shows. You may not realize it, but Des Moines' punk and counter-culture scenes are actually stronger now than a few decades ago, Summers said.

  • Local artists are playing intimate shows everywhere, from their basements to VFW's.
  • "That scene is big right now with these cool punk bands," Summers said. "It's just something that's naturally happening."

Worker shortages: Music venues in Des Moines aren't struggling with staff. But festivals are a whole different story, as people saw with long lines and supply shortages at Knotfest last September.

  • Festivals use subcontractors and third-party vendors to help with their operations, and getting enough staff to do laborious jobs like haul porta potties is difficult, Summers said.
  • But festival operators, including Summers' First Fleet, which operates Hinterland, learned from 2021 and will make sure this year goes more smoothly.

What's missing: An outdoor, mid-size venue that artists can book, especially over the summer months.

  • Touring artists are looking for spaces that fit 1,500 capacity, but without Brenton or Simon Estes available right now, there's a hole in our venue availability.

What's exciting: "80/35 coming back is huge," Summers said. "That's a big part of the core of Des Moines."


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