Ames Winter Classic successful once again

Mumbi Kasumba performs during the Ames Winter Classic 6 hosted by Maximum Ames at The Maintenance Shop on Jan. 20. Kasumba performed original songs and covered “Waiting On the World to Change” by John Mayer and “Down” by Emily King.

Jill O'Brien

The 6th annual Ames Winter Classic brought out the best of the Ames music scene on Friday night, keeping up the tradition of uniting the crowd and letting loose in the Maintenance Shop. 

The doors opened at 6:30 and the crowd steadily made their way into the M-Shop, milling about until Nate Logsdon jumped up on the stage.

“Welcome to Ames Winter Classic 6!” he called out into the crowd, and was met with enthusiastic applause. When the clock hit 7, Mumbi Kasumba and her band took the stage. 

Kasumba opened with an original song titled “African Girl.” Her band consisted of a guitarist, an upright bass and a cajon, which came together in a mellow sound that complemented her voice.

The slight sway of the crowd mirrored her presence onstage, and when she asked the crowd to sing along with her at the end of one her songs, they caught onto the words and unified the room with a calm energy.

The energy was highest during her cover of John Mayer’s “Waiting on the World to Change,” as the whole room echoed the words back to her enthusiastically. Kasumba got the crowd to unwind early on, setting the tone for the rest of the night. 

Next, hardcore hip-hop group Ebony Tusks took the stage. All of the lights in the M-Shop went out, save for one red light on frontman Marty Hillard, as he thanked the crowd and reminded them to treasure the moments they were about to share. 

Ebony Tusks combined hip-hop, hardcore and spoken word poetry, as the energy and volume built with every verse, but would stop suddenly before Marty Hillard spoke again.

During intervals between songs, Hillard would call out “When I say Ebony, you say Tusks!” which got the crowd ready for whatever they did next.

At some points, the room would go completely silent except for Hillard’s voice, lending itself to the quietly powerful energy present. Ebony Tusks covered intense topics within their songs, but Hillard put his whole heart into every verse he spoke, regardless of what he was saying. 

After another transition,  the M-Shop started to fill up with multicolored balloons with the word “Gloom” written on them that the crowd began to toss around, a sign that Gloom Balloon was about to take the stage.

After a brief introduction, Patrick Tape Fleming of Gloom Balloon began his set with incredibly high energy, interacting with the crowd and dancing around with them on the floor of the M-Shop, all against a backdrop of clips of old movies and clips of Fleming and Chris Ford (of Christopher the Conquered), the other half of Gloom Balloon. 

Gloom Balloon paid tribute to Charlie Vestal, an Ames musician who recently passed away, and Fleming even told a personal story about how he and Vestal first met and connected. 

Fleming was even quick to offer words of wisdom to the crowd as they looked to the future. “Think globally, act locally. We’re gonna be okay.” 

About halfway through the set, Fleming brought out a rainbow play parachute with the words “GLOOM BALLOON” written on it, and the crowd came together underneath it as Fleming sang. Halfway through the song, Fleming asked the people on the outside of the parachute to let go and get underneath, then asked everyone to get down to the ground. The parachute and the crowd came down, but came back up just as quickly, as the whole crowd was still dancing underneath. 

The last few songs were more intimate, as Fleming played them on the piano and asked for everyone to surround him onstage and around the piano. The whole room was quiet and hung onto every word he sang, and when his set was over, the M-Shop exploded in applause and cheers for everyone involved in the show.

Ames Winter Classic 6 was packed with high energy and positivity from start to finish, and was successful in uniting music lovers old and new from not only Iowa, but around the Midwest as well.