Friday, April 7 – 8 p.m.
BUY TICKETS ($22 General Admission in Advance / $20 Day of Show)
BUY FESTIVAL PASS ($164)
Culled together from the concrete deserts and decades-old industry of the city’s wrong-side-of-the-tracks, Karen Meat first appeared in the Des Moines scene at a Battle of the Bands. At the time, the band was a duo with Bradley Turk sharing songwriting and lead responsibilities with the band’s namesake member, Arin Eaton.
What started with Eaton’s idea for pyrotechnic accompaniment to their performance, ended in arson charges, an entire remodeling of the Lincoln High School gymnasium, and a stint in a Tennessee juvenile detention center. There she continued to hone her skills as a songwriter and upon her release fell heavily into the influence of Nashville music.
Meanwhile, Turk was overseas training to begin playing minor league basketball in the Euroleague after being drafted straight out of his Freshmen year at college. He continued to write songs in his downtime, and he and Eaton began exchanging demos back and forth.
This exchange culminated in the 2011 release of the band’s impossible-to-find debut album The Midnight Meat Train. The album was pieced together from many of those early demos and was praised for its lo-fi sensibilities and tendency for each of its cheeky pop hooks to stick in your head like gum to the bottom of your shoe.
Upon its release, Turk found himself released from the Euroleague due to his increasingly famous temper (“Turk the Jerk” his teammates called him). He found work on a fishing boat taking him down the western coast of Africa, eventually ending up in the American South where he met up with Eaton for the first time since her juvenile stint.
However, an unsuccessful two-piece tour in support of their debut album ended early with a van in flames, thousands of dollars in gear and merchandise lost, and both Eaton and Turk landlocked back in Des Moines.
Days after their return, Eaton was struck with a heart attack, likely over the stress of the failed tour. Her recovery left her in and out of the hospital for a year and with a new pacemaker in her chest.
And thus, Des Moines’ first cyborg-led band, Karen Meat & The Computer was born. With the addition of local players, John Huffman and Phil Young, the band was an immediate success. Drawing heavy influence from the bubblegum pop of Philles Records girl groups and the slacker attitude of the Burger Records roster, their 2015 self-titled, self-released cassette was snagged up like parade candy.
Now, with a string of successful tours, 80-35 and Gross Domestic Product festival appearances, and a recent Daytrotter session under their belt, the band is poised for the recording of their first proper full-length in 2016.
Bio and photo via Karen Meat