Hog tornadoes storming the McGrath Amphitheater in Cedar Rapids


A perfect storm of hard work, viral videos with nearly 6 million views and an original name catapulted The Pork Tornadoes to three sold-out shows at Paramount Theater and the unofficial attendance record at the McGrath Amphitheater, both at Cedar Rapids.

The Pork Tornadoes, a popular regional cover band, will return to the McGrath Amphitheater stage on July 31, 2021. They previously set the unofficial record for attendance, with 4,600 fans flocking to their Uptown Friday Nights concert in 2018. (Jeff Hackbarth)

The self-proclaimed comrades of the BeardPop group will be back in action at the Riverside Amphitheater on Saturday night, featuring their twist on the top of the charts and a tech show, which looks like another sold-out.

Now that the tour is back, who knows when they’ll cross Cedar Rapids again. The Tornados like it.

Manage popularity

When the band appeared at Uptown Friday Nights in 2018, 4,600 people reveled in the beer and the band for this indoor-only show, Schulte noted.

But for the quartet, more popularity does not equate to more shows in a given market. If anything, they pull out.

“It’s pretty calculated,” said Schulte, 39, of Cedar Rapids. “If you use Cedar Rapids, for example, which is definitely one of our biggest markets, and six or seven years ago we were playing six to eight shows a year in town. What if you say, “Hey, we’re playing tonight at a bar,” and the person says, “Oh, well, I got something else I’m going to do. No problem, I’ll catch up with you next month when you’re back in the same bar. ‘”

They don’t want to be available.

“As you get more popular you can cut your emissions down to make them must-see events, where if you don’t see us at the McGrath Amphitheater this summer you won’t see us again until later in the year,” if not next year. So you can capitalize on the fact that you can bring more people to the event, which can then turn into a bigger production, so that’s kind of our way of thinking.

Pig tornadoes

Or: McGrath Amphitheater, 475 First St. SW, Cedar Rapids

When: 7 p.m. Saturday

Tickets: Exhausted

Details: creventslive.com/events/2020/pork-tornadoes2

Group website: www.tornadoes.com/

And as the group diversifies into Omaha, the Twin Cities, Madison, Wis., And Springfield, Mo., which leave less time for appearances in this market.

It’s also increasingly difficult to book larger venues in the Midwest and beyond, as everyone who took a break from tours and shows during the pandemic is scrambling to reschedule these concerts.

“I have a feeling that by trying to book something like Paramount or the McGrath Amphitheater, you are approaching about a year. You have to save that date and put it on the calendar before someone else steps in and takes it – as a national or regional law, ”Schulte said.

“I think live music is going to make a huge comeback here in the next couple of years. And everyone’s going to want to go out and go on tour and hit the road and put music in front of people. “


But they have not grown so big that they are ready to give up their daily work. They might have done this if that kind of popularity had come to them in their twenties, Schulte said, but now they’re between 35 and 40 and more settled in their lives and homes, and not as inclined to take that. risk.

The Pork Tornadoes call themselves “Your Girlfriend’s Favorite Band”, playing their version of the covers in a style they’ve dubbed “BeardPop”. The band members are (left to right), drummer Mike Schulte; singer / guitarist Mason Greve; bassist Cory Talbot; and keyboardist Jerry Lorenson. (Courtesy of The Pork Tornadoes)

Keyboardist Jerry Lorenson, who lives in Des Moines, is the only one to make music his career, playing with several groups, including Pianopalooza.

Otherwise, Schulte sells real estate to Cedar Rapids; singer and guitarist Mason Greve, who lives north of Cedar Falls and was among the 100 finalists in “The Voice” TV contest in 2014, is a mechanical engineer with John Deere in Waterloo; and bassist Cory Talbot also lives in Des Moines, where he is manager at Hy-Vee.

Talbot is also the only one without a beard.

“He gets yelled at a lot by the fans. They say, ‘Where’s your beard? Where’s your beard? But, you know, it was never discussed, ”Schulte said. “It just sort of happened. It was never like, ‘Hey, we should all grow beards.’ It just happened.

A bit like the group.

“It’s a long, somewhat crazy story,” said Schulte.

Greve and Talbot lived in Cedar Falls in the early 2000s, met through friends, and decided to start a band there. Schulte joined us about nine years ago, after the departure of their first drummer. Then Lorenson joined five or six years ago.

“But the interesting point is that Jerry was the frontman of an original band called Towncrier from Iowa,” Schulte said, “and the three of us played with him in that band, but at times different.… Now the circle is complete, because we are finally all together in a group at the same time.


The Pork Tornadoes were released in late 2007, early 2008, unnamed.

“When the band formed, they were having a hard time thinking of a band name, so they decided to change the name at every gig,” Schulte said. “They were coming up with a ridiculously new and stupid thing for their show, but they quickly realized that it’s pretty hard to develop a fan base if you don’t stick to just one band name.

“So the story goes, they were driving to a show and they said, ‘Whatever name we come up with next, we’re going to stick with that. “A tornado had hit a pig farm somewhere in Iowa, and the wacky FM-DJ was talking about it on the radio, saying, ‘There was a swine tornado. So (the band members) said,’ Well that’s a terrible name. Let’s go with The Pork Tornadoes. ‘

“I guess nobody thought we would be a band much longer than a few more years, so why not have this stupid name joke, and it stuck. If anything, it’s memorable, ”Schulte said. “Every time we leave Iowa state and play elsewhere, like a few years ago in California, people would say, ‘Well, when I think of Iowa, I think of pigs and tornadoes. ” So, it’s OK. “

Cover path

In high school and college, all of the band members were part of bands that played original music, hoping to ‘make it’, write their own songs, go on tour, sell albums and to get a recording deal, Schulte said. But it’s a tough road, trying to get your songs known to the public and build a fan base, he added.

When they got together in The Pork Tornadoes, he said they were ready to “try something different, have some fun (and) be able to play music that our friends could come and watch us on.”

“When you’re an original band, you have to put a lot of time and energy into writing and performing, as well as in the studio,” he said.

“Sure enough it has evolved into more than any of us ever got from original music. We’ve performed in front of more fans through this cover group than any of our original projects combined.

The Pork Tornadoes have performed three sold-out shows at the Paramount Theater in Cedar Rapids and are returning on July 31, 2021 for a sold-out concert at the McGrath Amphitheater in Cedar Rapids. (Courtesy of The Pork Tornadoes)

Playing covers of popular songs gives them “an advantage from the start because everyone already knows the song,” he noted. “You’re not trying to sell them a new song that you just wrote that they have to get to grips with. With covers, these are tried and true songs that people like and associate with things, and with which they have memories.

“When you can play that in front of them, maybe someone’s favorite musician is Taylor Swift, but they’ll never get a chance to go see her. They can come see us play a Taylor Swift song and not having to pay $ 200 for a ticket for a nosebleed or something like that.I think that’s easy access for a lot of people.

As he and the others have different tastes, viewers could hear the band’s flavors injected into pop, hard rock, folk music, blues and jazz.

“We can take whatever we listen to, whatever our life is that day, and we can almost implant it into the songs that everyone knows and loves. I think that’s part of who we are.

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