My first trip to Public Space One

THE SAPWOODS w/ Dylan Sires and Neighbors: 6/12/2014 @ Public Space One (Iowa City, IA)

The Sapwoods (who I’ve written about a couple of times already, and plan to write about again soon) held an album release show at Public Space One in Iowa City, located downtown next to the United Methodist Church (and at least part of the building containing Public Space One seems to be under the church’s ownership).  The music performance area has a nice stage and a PA system appropriate for the space (loud but not overpowering).  The sale of alcohol is prohibited there (possibly a combined result of all the liquor license red tape and the UMC’s stance on alcohol), but The Sapwoods came prepared by offering complimentary chips, cookies and soda!

Dylan Sires and Neighbors (from Waterloo, IA) served as the opening band. I’ve heard and read a lot of positive comments about the group but I don’t believe I had ever heard them (live or recorded) until this past Thursday night.  Despite the band’s performance starting over an hour late, which had negative ramifications (shortened sets by both bands, rushed sound setup), I have to say the band otherwise is really worthy of the hype.

What do they sound like?  Some of the songs have a bouncy feel, accenting on the beat. If I had to compare them to another group, I’d say they sound a bit like the mid to late ’60s work of The Kinks.  Dylan plays a 6-string Rickenbacker through a Fender tube amp (was it a Blues DeVille?), and the resulting tone is excellent.  The bassist is a tall guy who plays some good lines and provides decent backing vocals.  Both the bassist and drummer play to complement the songs, rather than take them over, and the two communicate well on stage with each other.

What impressed me most about this group was their song arrangements.  The songwriting is decent (mostly standard major and minor chords), but any bands wanting to learn how to keep the listener’s attention by way of arrangements would do well to study this group. I can’t think of an Iowa band from the past twenty years who’s done it better.  A song introduced as “Standing in Line” started out average, but then went into so many variations that drew you in and kept your attention as it went on (I especially liked the part in three).  I strongly recommend checking out Dylan Sires and Neighbors’ live show if you get the chance.

Again, I’ll write more about The Sapwoods soon.


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