The best arts and entertainment events of the school year

Gloom Balloon put on an interactive performance at The Angry Irishman during the last day of Maximum Ames Music Festival. 

Limelight Staff

Live performances may be canceled for the foreseeable future, but let’s take some time to reminisce on the past year’s best arts and entertainment events. Here are the five best Iowa State and Ames live events from this school year as selected by the Limelight staff: 

Ninth Annual Maximum Ames Music Festival

Four days of Ames and central Iowa performances climaxed in an explosive finale at The Angry Irishmen. The most jarring of performances came from Gloom Balloon, who began his set with a self-edited news package promoting his own live performances.

Instead of sticking to the stage, Gloom Balloon performed exclusively in the crowd. His delivery altered between rapping and spoken-word, which found a pocket in his beautifully assembled backing instrumentals. His musical style was enough to catch attention, but his stage presence and creative personality was unforgettable. 

KURE Fest 2019

The annual KURE Fest is always something to look forward to, and the lineup for October 2019 was an enthralling myriad of genres, personalities and feelings. Three local acts followed by an internationally acclaimed headliner provided a perfectly diverse mix of both unfamiliar and mainstream indie rock sounds to Iowa State students.

Field Division’s graceful folk-pop and sweet, soft demeanor was an attention-grabbing breath of fresh air that perfectly kicked off the night, while Gloom Balloon’s exuberant, over-the-top shebang, complete with props, games and sing-alongs, was an unforgettable performance that humorously loosened the crowd up.

As the night grew later, the music stayed strong. Elizabeth Moen’s powerful voice and blue-eyed soul showed Ames the full potential of Iowa-based music as she got personal with the crowd, and Canadian rock band Peach Pit gave a fun-filled, rousing and masterful performance to remember,  performing demos and originals for the loyal fans and a few jam-packed covers for the new fans.

Each musician carried their own stories to tell and personal methods behind their art. KURE Fest 2019 stands out as a highlight of the year for not only the mind-blowing performances but the emotional marks the artists left on their audience.

The Envy Corps @ The Maintenance Shop

The Envy Corps returned to Ames last fall, where they formed in 2001, welcomed by a sold-out M-Shop. The band showcased its expansive sounds and musical strengths, delivering a hometown performance to be remembered.

Watching The Envy Corps perform was a powerful experience, like the audience was witnessing an important moment for the band. Between beautiful chemistry and emotional musical climaxes in front of an extremely receptive hometown crowd, the set was impactful from a technical standpoint and also achieved the feeling of a live music spectacle.  

Jackie Tohn at ISU AfterDark

Jackie Tohn’s performance at the first ISU AfterDark of the fall 2019 semester made for a night to remember.

Tohn’s musical, comedy and acting skills were put in the spotlight as she sang both her own original songs as well as covers of well known ’90s throwbacks. Songs such as “Everyone Will Leave You but Depression” and TLC’s “No Scrubs” had the audience laughing and foot tapping at the same time.

Tohn would introduce her songs by giving a bit of personal backstory to what inspired her to write them. Each insight to Tohn’s personal life left the audience feeling more connected to Tohn while also bringing the house down with laughter.

“Swan Lake” at Stephens Auditorium

The Russian National Ballet brought enchantment to Stephens Auditorium with their performance of “Swan Lake.” In the performance of “Swan Lake,” ballet is used to tell a love story without words. Though the dancers use pantomime, costumes and body language to explain a scene, they do have a few tricks up their sleeves. 

While some dancers may not have had a large amount of spotlight, their costumes certainly did. Each costume had intricate details, whether it be the embroidered greenery on the nobles’ bodices or the sparkles highlighting the white swans, each costume clearly identified the role of the character.

Throughout the entire night, it was clear to see the amount of athleticism required for ballet.