From the MoSS? Pit: Wild Belle

wild belle

I’m not a wrestler, but I pretended to be one from a high school existing only on TV.

Yes, taking on the persona of a past-his-prime grappler was just one element of a fun night out to see the sibling sensation Wild Belle.

My fellow MoSS? man Todd and I cruised down to Iowa City on Sept. 6 to catch the show, meeting up with charter members of the MoSS? Fan Club (that’s how I like to think of Travis, Annie, Brittany Jade). It was just what the doctor ordered after a strenuous morning on the golf course and lunch eating parmesan garlic flavored wings and an afternoon watching 42 with the kiddo. (Charmed life, I tell ya.)

We didn’t expect a really long show, given that Wild Belle only has one album to its name, and the band was going on around midnight. But quantity was never a concern once we experienced the quality of the show. Natalie Bergman’s smoky voice was in top form, and she was quite easy on the eyes. At one point, Todd and I broke up with all our other indie-rock girlfriends and worked out custody details involving the fetching Ms. Bergman. (Or we just drunkenly blabbed about how hot she was or something like that.)

But it was more than just eye candy that made the show so great. The elements of reggae and jazz and ska and soul and whatever else was mixed in there provided a soundtrack that was equal parts cool, fun, and sensual. It certainly had an effect on me; I found myself dancing freely among a crowd that was feeling that same vibe.

And how cool was it to see Gabes rather full. The live music scene hasn’t always been kind to bands in recent years. I remember being in Gabes a few years ago as shoegazers Film School and Airiel played to a rather empty room. Our friend Sam described going to a Heartless Bastards show in Iowa City and being one of 10 people in the crowd. Heartless Bastards! Not my cup of tea, but a pretty well-respected name. (To the band’s credit, Sam said the show was full of energy and effort.)

On this night, it wasn’t filled all the way to the back, I don’t believe. But all the same, everyone was moving and having a hell of a time. See evidence of that in this shaky video I shot of “Keep You.” (The parts where I don’t have my finger over the lens, anyway.)

I missed Wild Belle at Lolla on purpose, knowing that this show was in my future. I kinda wish now that I’d seen them twice in a five-week period after all.

We missed the opening acts, as the evening provided equal amounts of awesome, some in surprising ways:

  • New Belgium Ranger on tap
  • The Bushwick Bill moment
  • HMB crashes the party
  • Bayside Tiger

Mmmmmm…Ranger

No need to say much more. I should add, Golden Nugget after the show at Deadwood. Mmmmm-mmmmm-mmmmm. Toppling Goliath rules.

The spirit of Bushwick Bill invades Gabe’s

So we got to Gabe’s well in advance of the show, so we set up camp in the beer garden. A DJ was out back, providing an”interesting” potpourri of tunes. At one point, one of the masterful songs by Geto Boys filled the air. Todd quickly attributed the song to the GBs, and started reciting the lyrics along with the beats. And just as he rapped along with dwarf Geto Boy Bushwick Bill (“This year Halloween fell on the weekend / Me and Geto Boys are trick-or-treatin’ / Robbin’ little kids for bags”)…

…in walked a dude who couldn’t have stood more than 3’2″.

OK, so this guy was white and didn’t seem to know the words to “Mind Playing Tricks on Me.” But still, it felt like stars were aligning in our bizarre pop culture universe. Seriously, what are the odds?

March(ing Band) Madness

We expected to hear some brass at Gabe’s, but not quite to the extreme experienced when members of the Hawkeye Marching Band took over the beer garden. Don’t roll your eyes and groan “Band geeks!” It was fun. Sure, the fight song and all that was to be expected, but then they busted out the songs mocking Ohio State (saying unkind things about Mrs. Urban Meyer) and Michigan (“Hail to you motherfuckers”) and Indiana (“Indiana, Indiana, Indiana, Indiana, Indiana, Indiana, Indiana, fuck you!”)

And even though you can’t really see shit in the above video, you can’t go wrong with the Hawkeye Victory Polka.

Ever heard of A.C. Slater’s high school? No? Well, let’s have fun with this

So after Wild Belle finished their show, we retreated back to the beer garden. While there, some dude named Alex struck up a conversation with Todd and me. He noticed my Bayside Tigers shirt but didn’t seem familiar with the incredible fictional high school boasting Zack Morris, Kelly Kapowski, and A.C. Slater as alumni.

So Todd started in: “Hey bro, you’re talking to a former state champion wrestler. From his days at Bayside.”

Alex: “Oh yeah?”

Me: “Yep. Two-time champ in my division.”

Alex: “Wow! Where’s Bayside? Around here?”

Me: “California, dude.”

Todd: “He was so good, he was offered a full ride to wrestle here at Iowa.”

Alex: “Whoa!”

Me (gesturing at my out-of-shape physique): “Some time ago, obviously.”

Alex: “Well, OK!”

Me: “It was so great, coming here. In California, wrestlers played second fiddle. Then I came to Iowa, as a wrestler, and I was gettin’ all kinds of play.”

Alex: “Yeah!”

Todd: “My boy called me up–I was going to tech school out in California at the time–he says, ‘You gotta come to Iowa!’ So I moved out here right away. We’ve never left!”

Alex: “#1 party school!!!!”

Me and Todd (nodding): “#1 party school.”

We are easily entertained.

I’ll leave you with video footage of one of Bayside’s greatest wrestlers not named Albert Clifford.

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