Midwest Cage Championship, the region's largest MMA organization, has been showcasing brutal cage fights in Des Moines for more than five years. In 12 bouts across seven divisions, bone-cracking ballerinas will dance a pugilistic pas de deux, gracefully pirouetting into each other's pressure points. Lonnie Scriven and "Hollywood" Johnny Case join together to explore a vast terrain of bodily pain in the lightweight championship. Then, for the main event, light heavyweights Jesse Lund and Tyrone Roberts come to blows over the ownership of a belt, like deal-crazed shoppers at a Belt-Mart firesale.
As though scrawled by a member of the world's least-threatening street gang, the graffiti'd word "PENGUINS" on the stage's brick wall announces the venue's name. Nationally touring comics make that wall their backdrop every week, flooding the room with laughter as audience members accidentally flood their lungs with beer. The venue draws a number of recognizable industry names each month, with past appearances including Chris Kattan and Tom Arnold.
The Quad City Symphony Orchestra tickles ears with beautiful melodies and spectacular performances during its annual "Holiday Pops" concerts. Guest conductor Michael Butterman takes charge of an all-star cast that features six-time U.S. figure-skating champion Todd Eldredge as he shows off his moves and carves his version of a perfect tumbleweed into the ice. Actor and Quad Cities native John Getz lends his vocal talents to festive proceedings, and internationally acclaimed trumpeter Jon Faddis jazzes up orchestral pieces with fiery improvisation. The show takes place at the i wireless Center, with guests choosing from lower-bowl seats for straight-ahead sightlines or upper-bowl perches for enviable views of conductor stage dives.
The same venue that hosts weddings and upscale dinners also welcomes established comedians and rock bands, making First Avenue Club a go-to destination for all manner of events. Inside, a full-service bar overflows with 12 draft beers, 40 bottled beers, and a wealth of mixed drinks. Further behind the scenes, the kitchen fires up hearty entrees such as roast pork loin and baked cod.
The Midwest Rock-n-Roll Express smuggles arena legends Styx, REO Speedwagon, and Ted Nugent into the Mid-America Center with an inestimable cargo of sing-along classics. Styx has sparked the third rail since 1972 with prog-rock sensationalism, bolstering lighter-fluid epics such as "Come Sail Away" and "Babe" with complex riffs from crystalline synthesizers intertwined with power-chord crescendos and noodling from guitar giant Tommy Shaw. With founding frontman and falsetto specialist Kevin Cronin at the helm, fellow Prairie State juggernaut REO Speedwagon fills the stage with passionate chartbusters that made waterbed salesmen rich, from romantic ballads such as “Keep On Loving You" to the spurned-lover kiss-off "Take It on the Run." Kicking off the show, "Motor City Madman" and expert game hunter Ted Nugent revs his buzzsaw guitar through classics such as "Cat Scratch Fever" and "Stranglehold," all while protecting the audience from wild boars.
David Allan Coe, a renegade musician whose calling card also lists magician and movie actor, raucously lacquers auditory passageways with guitar licks and vocal melodies that span the spectrum of American roots rock and outlaw country. The 4onthefloor, a Minneapolis country-rock band with a passion for rugged rhythms and ground-bound even numerals, kicks things off on stage to warm up the speaker system and the audience. Then, for the main event, Coe will strap on his axe and perform a bevy of his twangy tunes from across his four-decade career, including “You Never Even Called Me By My Name,” “The Ride,” and “Mona Lisa Lost Her Smile.”