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Wednesday, Aug. 1, 2012

No Coast Mohawk Fest Readies Three Days of Punk

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To paraphrase the Exploited, punk's not dead—it's just taking a brief vacation in Milwaukee. The upcoming No Coast Mohawk Fest features more than enough first-generation-inspired punk to satisfy even the most die-hard of fans. Sponsored by Milwaukee's One Track Mind Records, the three-day festival (Aug. 3-5) highlights bands from across the country, with an emphasis on Midwestern punk and hardcore. So put on your studded dog collar, combat boots and denim vest (Subhumans back patch optional) and get ready to hit the pit.

As one might expect, there are plenty of groups playing the fest that fit the stereotype of “punk band” to a tee. Denver's The Potato Pirates, whose website features plenty of dudes giving the camera the finger, along with Chicago's Modern Day Rippers, who will rock out songs with such titles as “Rip it Up!,” “Dear Boss” and “Liquor Store Blues,” provide ample evidence for those who believe the genre is more about image and attitude than originality. Other acts seem content to revel in the obnoxiousness that, while once shocking, is now somewhat sad. What, for example, to do with this Facebook description eloquently penned by the Windy City's The Pervert Preachers: “You eat my shit…I fuck you mother!”?

Thankfully, there are bands playing the fest that rise above such mediocrity. Both Chicago's Criminal Kids (playing Friday night) and Denver's The Bad Engrish (Saturday night) play catchy street punk, with the former also drawing from the world of garage rock to create a sound that moves beyond one dimension. But the band most likely to win new fans at No Coast is Living Victim (Saturday night), coming out of Omaha, Neb. The group's take on speedy, bread-and-butter Midwestern hardcore would have sounded good on Touch and Go's seminal 1981 Process of Elimination compilation, right between Negative Approach and the Necros. Yet the band's best material bleeds authenticity, making the case that the genre remains both vibrant and relevant in the 21st century.

But what stands out most about the lineup for No Coast Mohawk Fest 2012 is the fact that the majority of the must-see bands hail from Milwaukee. Local favorites Get Rad (who headline Friday night) and Burning Sons (Sunday night) continue to turn out some of the best hardcore in the scene today. In addition to these better-known acts, the festival also affords up-and-coming Milwaukee groups the opportunity to play in front of a larger audience. Two local bands worth checking out are The DUI's (Saturday) and The Revenge Society (Sunday). Earlier material from The DUI's was rather pedestrian sing-along punk, but such newer songs as “Don't Mess With the Misses” and “Little White Pills,” from a 2012 split record with The American Dead, showcase a leaner and meaner sound for the band. And while The Revenge Society is still new to the city's music scene, such songs as “Modern Machiavellian,” “Lost Time” and “Come Again” suggest a band that could do great things. Driven by the powerful vocals of Martha Cannon, The Revenge Society sounds like a cross between X and the Yeah, Yeah, Yeahs. Not a bad place to start.

The festival will take advantage of three venues located across the city: Friday night's show will take place at Riverwest's Quarters (fast becoming an anchor of Milwaukee's underground music scene), while Saturday night's show will go down at Bay View's Marian Center. The festival will wrap up Sunday night on the East Side, at the Miramar Theatre. Such a diversity of venues shows that this “no coast” city currently has an incredibly healthy scene. We may not be Boston or Los Angeles, but we are still damn proud of our hometown.
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