The 9 Best Things We Saw at Daytrotter Downs 2017

Music Lists Daytrotter Downs
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The 9 Best Things We Saw at Daytrotter Downs 2017

When Charlie Parr told the crowd at Daytrotter, “There’s a lot of stuff going on,” his simple statement summed up the weekend pretty well. It’s not every day in downtown Davenport that you can see a doom metal band in the Redstone Room and then listen to some classically-inspired fiddle music at Daytrotter. Both the range of music and the amount of talent among the 47 bands that played Daytrotter Downs made it hard to pick out highlights, but here are nine of the best moments from the second Daytrotter Downs.

1. Middle Western

Location: Redstone Room

Photo by Matthew Terry Photo

William Elliott Whitmore said that this was Middle Western’s sixth show while the band was onstage, but I’m sure the crowd never would have realized that based on sound alone. The band features Iowa native and noted solo act Whitmore alongside David Zollo, Brian Cooper, Stephen Howard and Stevie Doyle. Charging through a set of bluesy, roots-rock, Zollo and Whitmore alternated taking the lead vocals on different songs. This obviously differentiates Middle Western from Whitmore playing on his own, but it’s a confident-sounding, welcome change.

2. NE-HI

Location: Daytrotter

Photo by Alyssa Leicht Photo

The Chicago-based garage rock band brought melody and energy to Daytrotter Downs on Friday night. Guitarist and vocalist Jason Balla—wearing a camo shirt tucked into his jeans—thrashed about, swinging his hollow-bodied guitar around his body. Plus, with harmonies lifted out of any ‘60s garage bands oeuvre, NE-HI’s sound places them in good company alongside contemporaries like Twin Peaks and the Allah-Las.

3. Pulsing

Location: Analog Arcade Bar

Thumbnail image for PulsingDD17.jpg
Photo courtesy of Daytrotter

During one of the Saturday morning showcases that took place throughout downtown Davenport, Alex Peterman stood in front of the vaulted walls of Analog Arcade Bar, equipped with an arsenal of Gameboys. Within one song, the one-man chiptune band had already undergone a complete costume change, switching out his tie-dye pug life shirt for a tiger-faced body suit. By the time the Spongebob snuggie cape and the third pair of shutter shades came out, Peterman was deep in his set of original music made up of Gameboy beeps and boops. With a smile spreading across his face, Peterman told everyone that he was using the Gameboy he got in 1991 for these songs, before rounding out the set with a cover of Fall Out Boy’s “Sugar We’re Goin’ Down” and the Smash Mouth classic, “All Star.”

4. Xavy Rusan

Location: The Full Kit

Photo courtesy of Daytrotter

The Full Kit was packed for Davenport rapper Xavy Rusan’s set before the official start of Daytrotter Downs on Saturday morning. Equipped with just a Macbook and a microphone, Rusan rapped over chilled-out beats. “Pinecones,” one of the tracks he performed from 2016’s The Xavy Rusan Experience, is backed by soft chimes, descending into distortion before turning into a cappella lines about growing up in the early 2000s.

5. The Hussy

Location: Redstone Room

Photo by Rachel Zyzda

I’ve seen a lot of bands in the Redstone Room in the time I’ve spent in the Quad Cities. But I’m not sure I’ve ever seen one set a guitar on fire on the dance floor of the venue. The three-piece self-proclaimed trash-punk band brought the spirit of ‘80s punk to Daytrotter Downs, barking out Jello Biafra-like vocals in their cover of Digital Leather’s “Studs in Love.” Their original songs had just as much impact, with fast guitars, drums and vocals lighting up the room.


Location: Redstone Room

Photo by Matt Augsburger

GOSH, a band that got its start in the Quad Cities and now resides in Chicago, offered a set of laid-back, fuzzed-out tunes at the Redstone Room on Saturday. In particular, “Blows My Mind” was a stunner of a song, with the beautiful simplicity of its lone melody line throughout: “I never knew my life could be so good,” they sing, “And it’s because I found you.”

7. Charlie Parr

Location: Daytrotter

Photo by Matthew Terry Photo

This was the fourth time I’d seen Charlie Parr, and his set was exactly what I expected. He sat in a chair onstage, switching between a 12-string acoustic guitar and a resonator guitar, tapping his foot for the backbeat of his songs. In his patched-up Austin sweatshirt, he barely looked up at the crowd as he played a 25-minute set that seems to fly by as you’re in awe of his fast fingerpicking. His storytelling shines in his songs like “Cheap Wine.” Even though I know exactly what to expect when I’m going into a Charlie Parr show at this point, I’m never disappointed during the time I get to listen to him play.

8. Gaelynn Lea

Location: Daytrotter

Photo by Matthew Terry Photo

At one of the most packed shows of Daytrotter Downs, Gaelynn Lea played her classically inspired violin music. After gaining a lot of attention after winning NPR’s Tiny Desk Concert contest in 2016, she’s spent a lot of time touring. During her Daytrotter Downs stop, guitarist Al Church (who went to the same high school) accompanied her. Gaelynn applied her signature pedal looping to the violin passages, turning her one instrument into an orchestra of sound backing her. She played both original songs and some traditional fiddle tunes, telling the stories behind the songs before each. The audience was happy to chime in when Lea asked them to harmonize behind her vocals, with the whole room accompanying her beautifully.

9. Nothing

Location: Daytrotter

Photo by Jimmy Fro

I was warned how loud Nothing would be. It’s a well-documented part of their live performance, so I should have seen it coming. The Philadelphia-based shoegaze band took the emotional impact of tracks from their 2016 album Tired of Tomorrow to the next level, the anxieties of the songs filling every crack in Daytrotter, and probably the entire block of Brady Street. Guitarist and vocalist Domenic Palermo didn’t let an intense toothache, with his pain alleviated only by chewing ice, hurt the performance in the least.