KURE Fest 2019 packs four dynamic acts

Peach Pit, hailing from Vancouver, headlined KURE Fest this year. Their performance was filled with playful energy, but took a few beautifully melancholy turns.

Gabby Lucas

Four bands came to perform with their own unique attitude and style for an attentive and enthusiastic crowd at KURE Fest 2019 on Friday in the Great Hall of the Memorial Union. 

Field Division, a Des Moines-based indie-folk duo, opened the show. Stylistically reminiscent of Fleetwood Mac, Robert Plant and Alison Krauss, the duo consists of vocalist Evelyn Taylor and vocalist/guitarist Nicholas Frampton. Taylor’s ethereal voice melted together with Frampton’s brassy tenor, which created entrancing, haunting harmonies. 

The group’s performance was uniquely gentle and roaringly powerful all at once, with songs beginning softly and slowly growing in intensity. Their voices opened and built to a point where they were literally ringing out into the crowd for their track “River in Reverse,” leaving the audience practically speechless as they listened. Percussed only by a tambourine, which Frampton played with his feet, the group continued to amaze as they closed with “Faultlines.” 

Gloom Balloon took the stage next as the antithesis to Field Division’s dreamlike execution. An uproarious performance filled with spontaneous movement and improvisation, no one in the audience knew what he was going to do next. Gloom Balloon’s frontman Patrick Tape Fleming “took stage” anywhere but the actual stage, as he mingled with the crowd and encouraged participation.

Fleming seemed to somehow convey every emotion at the same time, giving his performance all he had. In his songs, he sang about love and every single aspect of it — the pleasant, heartbreaking, confusing and downright dirty parts.

Accompanying Gloom Balloon was a plethora of props, including a giant toothbrush, a bus costume and a giant rainbow parachute. The audience loosened up while being trapped under a parachute with Fleming as he somersaulted his heart out. While skeptical at first, the audience gradually succumbed to Gloom Balloon’s sad psychedelic dance party and had a one-of-a-kind experience. There was truly never a dull moment. 

Elizabeth Moen took the stage next. She opened the show by announcing she is from Iowa City, which drew a sarcastic reaction from the crowd. The first thing to notice about Moen, besides her wickedly playful personality, is her profoundly unique voice. Sounding almost like a mix of Mattiel, Duffy, KT Tunstall and Regina Spektor, her specific brand of folk-rock was evocative of the blues and packed a real punch.

Moen’s songs were lively, humorous and personal yet wholesomely relatable. Her performance was full of soul, and each one felt like she was telling everyone a story in between pockets of personable stage banter. The tracks “Headgear” and “Planetarium” seemed to be the audience favorites, where the full power of Moen’s guitar skills and writing abilities were clearly demonstrated. She closed out the show with her sultry R&B song “Red,” which put Moen’s vocal belt at the forefront and sent the audience wild.

Finally, Peach Pit took the stage. Hailing from Vancouver, it was the group’s first time in Iowa. Filled to the brim with charming excitement, they played a few unreleased tracks from their upcoming album and even surprised with a few covers. The group’s garage-influenced pop sound hit hard when performed live, with outstanding technical work from lead guitarist Chris Vanderkooy. The group kept energy up with their groovy demonstration of the darker side of upbeat indie rock. 

Peach Pit’s dancing was contagious, and their energy was palpable. Midway through the show, they whipped out a flawless cover of Pixies’ “Here Comes Your Man,” which was met with excitement from the audience before they took things down a notch.

A string of mellow, almost heartbreaking tracks ensued. “Shampoo,” a brand new unreleased track, was an emotionally powerful highlight of the show as frontman Neil Smith sang about an ex-girlfriend’s belongings still being in his house, constantly reminding him of her. 

The Canadian group ended their set with “American Girl” by Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, and everyone in the audience helped by singing along. The group encored with their beautiful fan-favorite “Tommy’s Party,” and an absolutely explosive, surprising and downright delightful rendition of “Johnny B. Goode,” which featured a sick drum solo by Mikey Pascuzzi.

Neil Smith said performing at KURE Fest for Iowa State students was a great experience.

“The crowd was really sick,” Smith said. “Everyone was really nice and everyone clapped after the songs, which means it was a success.” 

The group enjoyed their first time in Iowa and, luckily, plan to return.