Just recently, back in late July, actually, I had the privilege of attending a special event being hosted at RAYGUN shirts. Maximum Ames Records (link) is a label dedicated to spreading the musical works of Iowa bands. Iowa bands do not get as much love as they should in the music scene and thanks to efforts of groups like Maximum Ames Records, that is changing. Along with releasing their artists albums on vinyl and hosting their own festival (which was held back on Sep 29th), they host unique events like this. I had never been to listening party before and it’s not all that often that I get to enjoy hearing something on vinyl. It had also been a long time since I checked out RAYGUN so I figured…Hey, why not!?
It ended up being a very wise investment of my time. There was a small crowd there that gradually increased as the evening went on. RAYGUN is a must visit for any native Iowan or outsider who happens to be visiting our fine city. The catchy sayings that are not only featured on their clothing but many other types of memorabilia gives you plenty to look at despite the relatively small floor space. They were kind enough to provide all guests and shoppers with free pizza and PBR (which took the party up a fuckin’ notch if you ask me).
This is always a place I try to stop by whenever I’m in that part of town. I tip my cap to Mike Draper and his RAYGUN team for creating such a unique concept for a business and thriving…especially in this economic climate. The messages they send through their merchandise serves as a calling card for Des Moines. They are continually spreading their influence throughout Iowa (just check their Facebook page…19,000+ likes don’t lie, brah). Founder Mike was named Young Entrepreneur of the Year at Des Moines Area Community College’s Small Business Awards Banquet. I have no doubt then when Iowans leave their home state wearing Raygun apparel, they turn heads as well. How could you not with taglines like “Des Moines…Hell Yes.”
All in all, this was a terrific event and I know the success of it will encourage them to host more. I talked with Maximum Ames rep Patrick Tape Fleming who was very personable and was able to give me plenty of info on some of these underexposed bands. One group that I took a liking to was the Wheelers. I’ve posted a performance of theirs below. If you’re into a lo-fi garage sound, give it a listen for sure. Or…you could do yourself an even bigger favor and check out one of their shows. Whatever you do, put attending a listening party at a trend-setting and quaint clothing store toward the top of your bucket list. If that’s not available, there will be a beer tasting event at Zombie burger on 10/10 where Backpocket Brewing will be serving a new IPA named specifically after RAYGUN. And if you haven’t gathered this in the rest of this post by now, know that anything with the RAYGUN name attached to it is much worth attending!