515 Alive took place in Des Moines, IA, in the middle of July from the 22nd to the 23rd. When I first heard about 515 from an interview I conducted with Co-Founder Dan Green, I was shocked to see the killer lineup. 515 Alive hosted some very big names like Zed’s Dead, Bear Grillz, Herobust, and Terravita. As well as some dope hip hop acts as well with Machine Gun Kelly, ASAP Ferg, and Probcause. The festival was placed in the middle of the downtown business sector of Des Moines, in Gateway Park which is surrounded by shorter office buildings. I really loved the set-up of this festival as a down town festival. They blocked off two streets and threw stages all over the park. The park itself was wonderful. Many sculptures and water features. I was actually surprised with the man made stream flowing from one side of the park all the way to the other side. It was great for the day time as the sun partnered with the devil and cooked us all on both days. I was surprised that there were five stages on such a small parcel of land with little sound bleed, except from the bigger main stage. It was cool to go and chill between two big buildings at the Kosmos Stage to listen to more bass related DJs and groups. Kosmos Stage was created to promote Dan’s next festival, Kosmos, which takes place at the end of August on the 26th and 27th.
The first day we arrived we hit the main stage for most of the day to see Terravita who is coming out with a new album soon. I heard at least two new tunes and a collab with Riot Ten called “I’m On It”. The guys from Terravita sound like they had a great time. The guys had this to say, “We had an absolute blast at 515 Alive. Such a wonderfully run festival from top to bottom. Des Moines is on the come up for sure. Had so much fun and Jon lost his phone 😛 Be on the lookout for our full length LP coming early next year. We’ll be releasing songs on the way up to it. Keep an eye out for some crazy collabs as well.” I heard one of those crazy collabs and I’m stoked to hear their new album in a few months. Bear Grillz came out after Terravita and killed it with his normal crazy dubstep set. I didn’t hear anything new from him. How don’t know how in God’s name he wore that suit on that day. It was 98 degrees out out with a heat index of 110 degrees.
On day two we arrived later on in the day because the devil made his mark on my neck and face the day before and I needed a break from the hot death outside. We made it out there around 7pm to catch the local homies LWKY. LWKY is from Chicago and made up of Zack, Kevin, and Jared. These guys rock hard even though their sound is a little on the electro soul side. Think Manic Science mixed with Pretty Lights. They are an excellent group with many aspirations and they have been able to tour the west coast stopping for a set at the Untz Festival.
We headed over to the main stage to check out some acts that I wouldn’t normally cover but since I haven’t seen them before I figured why not see them and maybe give them a shout out on the review. I’m glad I raged the main stage most of the night. I caught Boombox Cartel and it was nice to hear some different tunes than normal. However, he played a bunch of popular trap and dubstep remixes which I thought were decent, but nothing was better than him playing El Sondito with a dancing taco on the LED screen behind him. Herobust was up next and I was a huge fan of his music when he first started out. He used to produce nasty dubstep tunes but quickly switched to producing trap music and I just stopped enjoying his music. Now I have also heard he is a good DJ, which is why I wanted to listen closely to his set. At the beginning of his set Bear Grillz went on stage with him and G-Buck for BG’s song EDM he co-wrote with the dude himself, Getter. Herobust played a lot of dope remixes including a bounce version of Major Lazer’s “Lean On” and some Skrillex to get the crowd losing their minds. I agree now that he is a good DJ, however he played two songs twice in his set and he played most of the same top 10 trap songs that everyone else plays. I would like to see these artists actually put some effort in their song decisions instead of just playing the popular stuff.
I was pretty surprised to see so many people come out for a smaller sized festival. You wouldn’t think Des Moines would draw out a bigger crowd but they did. I spoke to Dan at the end of the night on Saturday and I asked him, “how did you make any money with first release tickets at $30 and final sales at $62.50 for a two-day festival?” Dan replied, “Because there are 10,000 people here that’s how, haha.” On the last count they had over 16,000 people in two days. This is the highest attendance they have even seen at 515 Alive. It makes sense to see this festival grow so large when you have friendly staff, friendly security, and a great atmosphere. As far as most festivals are concerned 515 is one of the best. The lineups may not be stuffed with Zedd, Bassnectar, and Skrillex, but you can see them at any of the major festivals all over the country. If you want a great festival in a smaller downtown setting, with excellent sound and friendly people head to 515 Alive next year. You won’t regret it!