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Monday, April 4, 2011

Decibully @ Cactus Club

April 2, 2011

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Late last week, the blogosphere buzzed with the news that longtime Milwaukee rockers Decibully would be going on hiatus following their April 2performance at the Cactus Club. Band co-founder Ryan Weber was set to leave the city for a stint in the Peace Corps., a development that would understandably put quite a strain on a band that has had a rocky 10-year existence. Yet at the same time Decibully has announced they'll release a new record for download on April 5. I know I was not the only concertgoer with one question in mind Saturday evening: What would the future bring for Decibully?

This question was answered halfway through the group's set before an elbow-to-elbow crowd when Decibully frontman B.J. Seidel announced that this was indeed "the last Decibully show you will ever see." There was always something refreshingly unassuming about Decibully, a characteristic that made them both endearing but also easy to take for granted. But freed from any future expectations— and despite their impending demise— the mood throughout the band's set was far from funereal. Taking their time, the group drew from all of their recorded output as they put together a set that illustrated just what a gap the band's demise will leave in the local music scene.

While all of the band's set sounded great (including material to be featured on their upcoming release), it was material from 2009's World Travels Fast that hit the hardest. Song such as "Somewhere in the World" and "Let's Not Fight" benefited tremendously from the three-guitar noise produced by Seidel, Weber and W. Kenneth Siebert. The sound that the band was able to produce on such numbers reminded me of the Fugazi-meets-roots-rock vibe that I had always wished the band would have run with more.

Of course, one does not have to remind Decibully fans that World Travels Fast almost didn't see the light of day: After being dropped by über -indie label Polyvinyl the group ultimately ended up putting the record out on their own. There was something satisfying in hearing the band seemingly reclaim these songs, as if to show their fans, and perhaps themselves, that Polyvinyl made a large mistake in not putting this record out. It would have been understandable if the band ignored this painful period in their history. Instead, they embraced it and played these songs with a tremendous amount of confidence and poise. I couldn't think of a more fitting epitaph.

I'm sure there will be those who hope that Decibully does one last big show (and then the clamor for a reunion of any sorts will soon begin). I honestly hope that the band doesn't give in to such temptations. Yes, any indie band that sticks it out for 10 years probably deserves a better send-off. And yes, it's sad that the band never seemed to find as large of an audience outside the city as they should have. But as I watched the band smiling as they played the hell out of the set closing "Megan & Magill," I had the feeling they were breaking up on their own terms. Sometimes things end, and that's O.K.
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