A few weeks ago one could have purchased tickets for both nights of the 80/35 Music Festival for a mere $50. The tickets were sold sight unseen, meaning that if you bought tickets, you put your trust into the organizers to provide you a valuable concert experience.
For the money, I opted instead to go to Iowa City and see The Fleshtones headline the Friday night lineup of the Firecracker 500. That was a great show which featured Crushed Out, The Ills, and Lipstick Homicide. Some of these bands I'd never heard of. But at least their names contained a level of excitement.
This year at 80/35 - aside from a couple local acts - there isn't much on the ticket that gets my attention. The band names could be made up for all I know. While I suspect that this is not the case, the names of the featured bands are void of excitement and don't jump out at you like the bands that played at the Firecracker did. Raz Simone, Caroline Smith, Chicago Farmer, and Dr. Dog... You can't judge a book by it's cover, so I took the time to watch videos of each of these performers. There is certainly nothing there that screams, "This is worth $50."
Friday night's headliner is Conor Oberst.
A curious Google search revealed that Oberst is a musician in the band Bright Eyes. Again, this meant nothing to me. However, links to pages with forums brought the realization that there is some hype for this band. Thinking that maybe I should give Conor Oberst the benefit of the doubt, I watched a 45 minute video of him performing at the Green Space from April 10th. I cannot believe that he has been tabbed for the headlining slot on Friday night. He'd be great in a Hoyt Sherman Theater type setting, or even a large coffee shop, but I am having a hard time imagining him playing on a large stage in an outdoor music festival. Let alone headlining.
One more thing: one of the genres that he has been associated with Conor Oberst is a new one to me: Sadcore.
Music from the core of sadness. Sounds lovely.
The rest of the lineup, aside from Ziggy Marley and a few locals is mostly trivial. Many of the bands I listen to are not household names, but most are certainly tried and true, and not part of a hipster culture where people tend to base their level of integrity on what they wish they knew. Anybody who is seriously excited about this lineup is kidding themselves.
Here is who has been announced as playing so far:
I will predict that unless they announce The Rolling Stones or Neil Young as the Saturday night headliner, this year's attendance will be way down compared to previous year's. While it's nice to see new local acts getting fair play, it's disheartening that overall, this is what the festival has become.