Live Review - David Dondero - Des Moines, IA 11/8/12

I’ve been coming to the Vaudeville Mews in Des Moines, Iowa for about seven years now, and I’m not sure I’ve seen more than 15 people at a show that starts before eight. David Dondero was no exception.

David sat at the end of the bar engaged in what sounded like simple conversation with a man in a baseball cap sitting two seats away, sipping on a beer with a massive orange duffel bag at his feet. His guitar leaned up against the wall behind him. Gloom Balloon (Patrick Tape Fleming’s new project) played sad songs about moms and growing middle aged with Chris Ford on trumpet at the front of the venue. They sounded like an underwater, more intimate version of The Poison Control Center.

After a short set, David walked up to the stage and neatly laid down his guitar and bag side by side stage left and hid his beer behind his orange blob. He looked tired, worn, and ready.

He played a set that lasted no longer than 40 minutes. Half way through, he sipped his hidden beer and looked out to the six of us standing in the crowd. “I don’t do a setlist, so if you have any requests go ahead and let me know.” It almost made me tear up. How can someone this masterful and influential—someone NPR named as one of the best living songwriters—be standing here in Des Moines barely projecting enough to be heard over the PBR Princes in the back blabbing about absolutely nothing? It seemed backwards and out of place.

David maintained a steady demeanor—he made jokes and told stories about smoking-hot dog turds and disliking the Green Bay Packers (contained in the clip below) amidst their accompanying songs. His hands shook throughout most of the show, a steady rhythmic tremble that fit right in with his precise picking and wavering voice. Toward the end of the show he opened up his orange bag and showed the crowd a tupperware container with his homemade compilation CDs inside and the few t-shirts he had left. He’s truly a one man show, traveling town to town playing boring taverns and under-attended punk venues with nothing but a guitar and orange duffel bag, even if only half the room is listening.

He’s playing the east coast the next couple of days, so if you’re within two, three, four states of him, go.


Recorded with an iPhone:

Originally posted on Solid Stated

Views: 175

Comment by Chris Q. Murphy on November 16, 2012 at 11:27am
Saw him open for Frank Fairfield (ridiculously great) and Horse Feathers (only caught about 40 seconds of their set) in Brooklyn the other night.. David was angry at the venue. He continually bitched about the people that ran the place. Having dealt with my share of douchey managers/promoters/etc, I was feeling him on a personal level, but his taking it out on the crowd was uncalled for. In addition to striking an odd balance between disengagement and outward hostility, he tried to quit his own set twice. It's a shame: I really dug some of the songs, but after watching his live show, I have little to no interest in pursuing his music any further.
Comment by Kyla Fairchild on November 16, 2012 at 12:30pm

Great writing Lucca.  David is fantastic. Sad to hear that more people didn't make it out for the show. Here's a link to his profile page here on the ND site with a bunch of songs he added to the player so people can check him out.

Comment by Lucca Soria on November 18, 2012 at 4:27pm

Chris - That's a bummer that he was in a bad mood the night you saw him. His "# Zero With A Bullet" is a great record if you ever decide to check him out.

Kyla - Thanks for the link to that page, I'm checkin it out.


You need to be a member of No Depression Americana and Roots Music to add comments!

Join No Depression Americana and Roots Music


If you enjoy this site please consider helping us with a small donation!

Don't like PayPal? Mail a check to: No Depression, 460 Bush St., San Francisco, CA 94108

When you shop at Amazon please enter through this search box and No Depression receives a referral fee



Created by No Depression Feb 17, 2009 at 9:06pm. Last updated by No Depression Sep 24, 2012.