Live music for summer

Scott Strehlow

Summer is indisputably the best season for live concerts. The weather is just right for those outdoor venues, school is off the radar for a few months, and students have more free time. This is the perfect time to utilize Iowa entertainment. Some may think you have to break the bank and save for months, but Iowa offers a lot of quality entertainment without murdering your bank account.

Nightfall On the River

Nothing quite compares to the Simon Estes Amphitheater located in the heart of downtown. This outdoor venue provides entertainment for both families and college kids. The atmosphere is relaxed and free-spirited, and the location is ideal. Found in between Locust and Walnut street, the venue sits right on the water of the Des Moines River. Nightfall On the River is a specific summer showcase the venue and is often used to celebrate as well as entertain. Ticket prices are affordable usually ranging from $10-30 dollars.

This is a venue where you can bring a blanket and sit with a cold drink, or rage in the front row with your besties. Last year’s performances include Hanson, Brandi Carlile, Slightly Stoopid, Owl City, Dark Star Orchestra, Edward Sharpe & the Magnetic Zeros, and the Nadas. For the 2014 schedule visit their website, they are adding new shows every week!


80/35 is Iowa’s hottest and most popular music festival. This two day music festival showcases a solid range of artists and is really the ultimate variety experience if festivals are your passion. It may not be Bonnaroo or Coachella, but this festival does get underrated too easily.

With it’s prime location in downtown Des Moines, the venue itself is incredibly organized and efficient. Gateway Park is exceptionally clean and enhances the experience with its wide range of 3D art and sculptures. Parking is reasonable and wrist bands make going in and out easy. Not to mention the close vicinity of bars and restaurants give festival goers more to do than what people expect.

The lineup changes dramatically each year, but 80/35 always manages to book solid headliners while promoting local Iowa bands. Three separate stages give participants the ability to move from stage to stage at their discretion while local food and beverage vendors offer a solid variety of thirst-quenching drinks. The best thing about this festival? The price. A two-day pass is a mere $65 dollars, compare that to something huge like Coachella which runs upward of $350 for

the ticket alone. 80/35 is a great option for students looking to dance without the need for another loan.


Never underestimate what’s in your own back yard. DG’s Tap House offers a solid variety of music all year round is conveniently located in downtown Ames. This venue often gets overlooked due to its size and proximity to campus, but it is literally five minutes away if cars are a part of your transportation. It was even voted as ‘the best place for live music’ by ISU students this year (Student Choice Awards).

Entertainment at this establishment comes in a lot of different forms. This isn’t called a taphouse for nothing. They offer over 56 beers on tap with additional favorites available by the bottle. It’s an area to explore with your alcoholic taste buds (if you are of age of course). Live bands frequent the venue at least once a week and summer is a big season for them. In addition to live music, DG’s is known for hosting poetry readings and drag shows. Discover a hidden gem of central Iowa and visit DG’s Taphouse for an experience outside of campustown.