Home / Concert Reviews / Mitten Fest w/ The Fatty Acids, Whips, Midwest Death Rattle and Heavy Hand @ Burnhearts
Monday, Feb. 10, 2014

Mitten Fest w/ The Fatty Acids, Whips, Midwest Death Rattle and Heavy Hand @ Burnhearts

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The frigid months between November and March generally lack any sizeable outdoor festivals in a city known for them, and Milwaukee’s calendar seems especially languid this year due to countless stretches of below-zero temps and ghastly cold wind chills. That’s what makes an event like Burnhearts’ February street party Mitten Fest so special. There is literally nothing else going on at this scale. The festival has complete market control on hawking craft beers and house-made, bourbon barrel-aged brandy Old Fashioneds to people watching bands perform outside in the dead of winter. The block of Logan Avenue outside Burnhearts was packed impressively throughout the day with hoards of people. The winding queues for drinks or even entrance inside the bar proved that, only in its second year, Mitten Fest is perhaps reaching peak capacity. The weather on Saturday afternoon might have been chilly and consistently snowy, but it’s probably the ideal atmosphere for a festival like this. There’s a certain northern pride in braving the elements all for the sake of a good time.

Openers Heavy Hand kick started the festivities and reassured the crowd that it wouldn’t be too hard to keep warm. Sure enough, the three piece’s aggressive, pounding post-hardcore could easily keep your mind off the cold. Guitarist Anthony Weber playfully admitted his surprise that no audience member was shirtless. He took his own proposal seriously, though, as he removed his shirt and played the final two songs bare-chested. The audacity was inspiring and visually arresting. Midwest Death Rattle followed with a haunting and rowdy performance that simmered with a restless energy. Culling material from its self-titled record, none hit harder than the catchy “Run! Shark!” and its parade of chanting “ba da ba da’s.”

Up next were Whips, who rocketed through a brash, punchy set of rocket-fueled punk rock. The interplay between lead singer Ashley Smith and guitarist Christian Hansen evoked the symbiotic relationship between Karen O and Nick Zinner of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs. And later, as night descended onto Mitten Fest, The Fatty Acids took the stage and bid farewell to trumpeter Kurt Raether, who was playing his final show with the rambunctious and jovial outfit. The Fatty Acids displayed a knack for structured chaos with infectious pop hooks backed by Josh Evert’s distinctive Avey Tare-like voice. An ever-entertaining live band, the group lived up to its headliner booking, as well as the ability to keep a crowd warm that’s been hanging around in the snow for five hours. Warmer temperatures may still be months away, but with days like these, who needs ’em?