Home / Concert Reviews / Stacian w/ Gel Set, Magic Key and Storm Chaser @ Cactus Club
Thursday, Aug. 14, 2014

Stacian w/ Gel Set, Magic Key and Storm Chaser @ Cactus Club

Aug. 13, 2014

stacian
Stacian - Photo credit: Allie Hawley
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To whatever extent there actually is a rivalry between Milwaukee and Chicago, it rarely appears to intrude on the world of DIY music, where kindred spirits from either city routinely come together to record, play shows or otherwise collaborate. This give and take often seems especially prevalent with electronic music, a genre where tribal affiliations and technology easily trump geographic distance. Wednesday night’s show at Cactus Club was a good example. Not only was the bill evenly divided between acts from both cities, it also served as the release party for a split 12-inch featuring Milwaukee synth wizard Stacian on one side and Chicago’s like-mindedly minimal Gel Set on the other. Regardless of any potential symbolism though, the album, entitled Voorhees and out now on Moniker Records, is well worth checking out, as was the show it inspired.

At the outset, with all four of the night’s solo artists’ gear set up simultaneously, the Cactus Club stage was a thicket of crossed wires and synthesizers, one that gradually got pared down as they progressed through the lineup. Playing first was Storm Chaser, stage name of Isaac Sherman, former guitarist for the now sadly defunct Catacombz, whose current electronic incarnation strikes the same balance between accessible grooves and esoteric strangeness that he and his previous bandmates found in psychedelic rock. Next up, representing the Windy City, was Magic Key, also known as Aleksandra Tomaszewska, who seemed to be having some trouble with her equipment throughout her all-too-short set; not that it derailed the few songs she did play in any serious manner, her plaintive voice being the real main attraction.  

The first of the two co-headliners was Gel Set, Laura Callier by day, who pushes ominous minimalism in a vaguely sordid, dance floor-friendly direction. The small yet interested Wednesday night crowd had visibly enjoyed the openers, but it was Gel Set tracks like “Hot Bleach” and Voorhees’ “Never Never Dance” that managed to get them moving in earnest. Although she’s on a much colder wavelength, so to speak, Stacian, alter ego of Milwaukee’s own Dania Luck, had no problem maintaining that momentum with a dimly lit set that blended new material with elements of her confident 2012 debut LP Songs for Cadets. Altogether, it was a well-curated evening of music, not only showing off the pleasures of electronic music with a personal approach, but demonstrating the good that can happen when cities come together.