Freaks Come Out Fest
Three days of under-the-radar music
Yet a city must measure the health of
its music scene by more than its ability to attract nationally known acts.
There must be places for up-and-coming bands to play, to push and refine their
sound before supportive audiences. Without such places to nurture and cultivate
homegrown talent, scenes tend to stagnate and bands simply stop developing, or
even forming in the first place. And small venues remain the best—and sometimes
the only—places to hear bands before they make a name for themselves on a
Thankfully, Milwaukee is lucky enough to have the Borg
Ward, an all-ages space on the city’s South Side that continues to put on
wonderfully eclectic shows featuring a mix of local and nonlocal talent. From
May 20-22, the Borg Ward will host its second Freaks Come Out Fest, three days
of shows featuring more than 20 bands, all for the low, low prices of $7 for
one day or $15 for all three days (take that Pitchfork festival!). Among the
performers are Absolutely, Dear Astronaut, Terrior Bute, Fahri and Owlscry.
While there may not be a lot of familiar names playing the fest, the three
shows will undoubtedly reward music fans ready to take a chance or two on acts
they haven’t heard of yet.
Two bands that I’m excited to see at
the fest are a couple of Milwaukee-based acts: Holy Shit! and Bzybodies. Holy
Shit!, playing May 20, specializes in feedback-laden bursts of punk-rock speed
that wouldn’t have sounded out of place on a Touch and Go 7-inch from 1982. The
pure energy of songs like “I Shot Brock,” “JumpingIntoAGoddamnedWaterfall” and
“Last Road Trip” is absolutely infectious, as Holy Shit! captures an
uninhibited, off-the-cuff energy that most punk bands simply cannot capture in
the studio. If they can match this exuberance on stage, they should soon become
a can’t-miss Milwaukee
act. Their performance at the fest will celebrate the release of a new 10-inch
Bzybodies’ May 21 performance at the
Freaks Come Out Fest will mark the release of a cassette tape of new material.
The band describes itself as “Kraut Rock,” and I definitely hear a Kraftwerk
influence in the group’s songs. Yet the band doesn’t perfectly fit within this
genre, which is often marked by clean—some might say sterile—odes to
technology. There is genuine warmth in the band’s surprisingly accessible
songs, as the group’s woozy, spacey instrumentals also seem to owe a debt to
such D.C. acts as Happy Go Licky and Trans Am. In fact, songs such as
“Haardphonics” are actually quite straightforward and catchy, and the band has
been known to put on a raucous, engaging live show (you will not see any dour
Germans hiding behind computers here). It’s a new take on an old sound, but one
that pushes the aesthetic in rewarding directions.