Saturday, December 16, 2017

FESTER RAGE VIDEOS: A Testament of Youth (ATOY) at The Vaudeville Mews in Des Moines on August 31, 2007

Okay, this is the first in a new monthly series we will have on Iowa Music Showcase.

Fester Rage was an amateur videographer who from August, 2007, to September, 2015, recorded various live shows here in Des Moines, both from local acts and national. On this website, we will be only featuring the Iowa artists. But you can watch all his videos on his YouTube channel at

The first show he recorded was actually a reunion show from a popular 80s Des Moines punk band, A Testament of Youth, or ATOY as they were commonly called.

"Formed in 1981 by Factory Records aficionados Paul Standard and Dave Edwards, A Testament of Youth or ATOY (pronounced AE-TOI) were Iowa's first Post-Punk band. ATOY were Paul and Dave's response to the bland Styx and Journey-inspired rock that was prevalent throughout the midwest during the late 70s and early 80s. Looking to do something darker and more arty, guitarist Paul and producer Dave set out to forge a new midwest sound. Brad Roth, who was then singing in and playing bass for the power-pop trio The Blue Cruisers was recruited as a front man. With the addition of newcomers Mark Penner on bass and Lonnie Urich on drums, ATOY was set to play the now legendary 1981 2 day Iowa punk/new wave festival, Music For No-Man's Land. A surprise hit at the festival, ATOY contributed two songs to the 'Music For No-Man's Land' release, Roth's Television-inspired "Chemical Boys" and Standard's epic dirge "Requiem for a Priest". ATOY were soon playing gigs throughout Iowa. Due to differences in vision, Dave Edwards soon left the group. ATOY's music at the time was thin, brittle and experimental using rhythm machines, tape loops and incorporating short-wave radio broadcasts into their live shows. Brad's onstage antics were legendary, often getting the group banned from some of the more mainstream rock clubs. Paul decided to return to college late in 1981, leaving the band looking for a new guitarist. Greg Owen, who had played with Brad Roth previously in the Blue Cruisers joined in early 1982. Owen brought a tough, shredding guitar style to ATOY which propelled their sound into a more aggressive stance. Penner and Urich similarly toughened up their sound and Roth's wild stage persona evolved into a dadaist Iggy Pop. Brad's lyrics began to take a darkly poetic turn and led to him being called 'the Baudelaire of the heartland'. Over the next year and a half, the band began touring around the midwest to ever increasing crowds. During that period, many of ATOY's most popular songs, such as 'Stickmen', 'Creeps with Forks' and 'Cut and Restored' were written. The group gained in popularity and the now defuct nightclub So's Your Mothers, opened another venue, Mother's Underground, to regularly showcase ATOY and other Iowa underground bands. The volatile mix of personalities in the band began to take it's toll and in the Spring of 1983 ATOY decided to call it quits. Their final show was recorded and release on CD many years later. A videotape of that last show called "The Final Plunge" was aired on Des Moines TV... In 2005 ATOY were asked to do a reunion show. The success of that show surprised them as much as their fans. This led to the band resuming playing again. The volatile mix of personalities did lead to a couple of false starts, but ATOY is officially back together, writing new material and playing to new fans as well as old. Since ATOY never really sounded like anyone else, the band's music doesn't sound dated to new fans. New material has been written as well as a number of Buick McSnake songs being reworked into ATOY's sound...and then after a dozen or so gigs it all came crashing down. The volatile chemistry of the band once again blew up. As a longtime fan of the band remarked 'If everyone were mature and responsible, it wouldn't be ATOY. You guys have broken up for good before. Hopefully you'll do it again.' Here's to hoping that it'll happen again."
- from their Underground Archives entry

Fester Rage's YouTube Channel:

A Testament of Youth/ATOY on Underground Archives:

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