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Third GAS fest in 2 years starts today: Here's how — and why — Sean Moeller chose the lineup

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When you’re putting on a festival that promises to introduce attendees to 20 or more of their new favorite bands, how exactly do you go about filling that lineup?

It happens in all sorts of ways, including Spotify scavenger hunts and spontaneous hunches and simple text messages to musician-friends asking, “What have you been listening to lately?”

For each act playing third installment of GAS Feed & Seed, a three-day music festival that kicks off Thursday, there’s a story behind how Sean Moeller heard about them.

Moeller, the Davenport-based concert promoter who co-owns the Triple Crown Whiskey Bar and Raccoon Motel, launched GAS Feed & Seed in Feb. 2017 and held it again in November with the goal, in his words, of offering “a way to not just fall in love with a new band or 20, but to fall into like with them as well.” , Shows will be at the Village Theatre in the East Village of Davenport and at the Triple Crown Whiskey Bar and Raccoon Motel,

“It’s my mini version of South by Southwest,” Moeller said, referring to the mega music fest in Austin, Texas.

The lineup offers a look into Moeller’s own music exploration — who he’s fallen into like and love with in recent months as well as how. 

Moeller found out about Jill Andrews, a Nashville-based songstress, after she opened for the Avett Brothers and heard her songs were on TV shows like “Nashville" and "Grey's Anatomy." “That’s a big deal,” Moeller said of her opening gig.

Jeremy Quentin, who performs under the moniker Small Houses, is a close friend of Moeller’s and has played the previous two GAS fests, so “he begged to come back, because he just loves the vibe,’ Moeller said.

Moeller was “blown away” the first time he saw Logan Ledger perform back in November when the country singer opened for John Paul White. After his set, Moeller asked Ledger to play GAS fest.

Moeller listened to Arlie, a psych rock band from Nashville, “pretty much all of last year” and had been waiting for the right time to bring them to Davenport. When he booked Peter Oren at the Raccoon Motel, there wasn’t a great turnout and, “I like him so much that I want to get him in front of more people.”

Others on the schedule, such as headliners Terra Lightfoot and John the Baptist, have previously played well-received shows here. John the Baptist, who’s coming to town from New York, told Moeller about Gold Child, which is how they made the lineup.

“It’s not random or happenstance,” Moeller said. “Part of it is I want variety. I want the best new honky-tonk country band to come here and the same with hip-hop. Part of it is booking things that I know people who come to my shows will like.”

Some of the 24 acts playing this weekend, at times simultaneously at two venues are virtually unknown.

For example, about a month ago, Moeller came across the retro hip-hop music of Drelli, a Los Angeles-based artist, on the online music-focused magazine, Pitchfork. He convinced Drelli to fly out to Davenport for GAS, which will be his first-ever festival.

Moeller’s mission is to see which artists strike a chord during the fest and figure out if and when he could bring them back to town for shows at the Raccoon Motel or Codfish Hollow, the barn/music venue in Maquoketa, Iowa, or The Stardust, which is set to open in early March.

Plus, Moeller says he will have another venue to work with — a 5,000-square foot venue in East Moline — by the mid-summer. More details are under wraps for now.

“Some of these bands I just know people are going to go crazy for and we’ll keep growing them in the market,” he said. “They may be nobodies now, but I can guarantee some of these people will headline a Codfish Hollow show in the next two years.”

Moeller is quick to point out he’s doing things the hard way. He'd rather book bands nobody has heard of than bands "everyone's talking about." 

"I don't mind a challenge," he said. "I'll put in the effort. It's important to me." 

Moeller, who founded Daytrotter.com and left the company in Aug. 2016, wants his shows and festivals to push Quad-Citians to care enough to “go outside and do something and see what’s here.” After all, that’s what GAS — which stands for “give a s***” — is all about.

“The Quad-Cities has this defeatist mentality where everyone says it’s so boring here and all that and it doesn’t have to be that way,” he said. “That’s why we stubbornly keep putting on these events every week to move that along a little bit.”

That sentiment appears loud and clear on a few T-shirts Moeller designed for his online new apparel line, called Pelt. Shirts are adorned with phrases like, “Nobody Listens” and “Come look at your phone at the Raccoon Motel.” starting this weekend, Pelt apparel will have a brick-and-mortar home — pop-up shop style — at 316 E. 3rd St., Davenport. 

"It's not just about music and my shows," Moeller said. "It's about not wasting time. It's about experiencing the good stuff in life." 

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Amanda Hancock is a reporter covering food, arts and entertainment in the Quad-Cities (and beyond).