Radio Summer Camp Kick-Off w/ Sometime Sweet Susan @ Turner Hall Ballroom
Thursday, Aug. 20
The quadruple bill, a kick-off show for WMSE 91.7 FM's weekend Radio Summer Camp event, held the attention of a scattered but genuinely appreciative audience, who strode stage-front right away to catch The Trusty Knife's exuberant pop and stayed for Juniper Tar's melodic folk rock. The Dim Suns brought excited cheers, as the newly formed quartet featuring Andy Reis on bass and lead vocals, Jon Lyman and Mike Allen on guitar and Franz Buchholtz on drums played an intense and precise set that reclassified the brand of rock that was Compound Red's hallmark over a decade ago, adding more pronounced pop elements.
Sometime Sweet Susan, who had recently reunited to perform at the Atomic Valentine concert in February, jumped into their second "reunion" show with ease, playing exhilarating oldies like "Crush," "Blanket Kiss" and "Beam" for both enamored old-timers and first-timers curious to absorb Milwaukee music history.
Buchholtz, doing double-duty on drums for both a new gig (The Dim Suns) and Sometime Sweet Susan, still hit with as much propulsion as he did in Susan's heyday, his machine-like beats creating that classic '90s, grungy sound. Guitarist James Warchol effortlessly floated from one song to the next, his atmospheric guitar work biting just enough to keep the expectant crowd on edge, while bassist Thom Mosley hammed it up, walking the stage back and forth between his mic and Warchol. He paused in between songs to throw candy to the crowd, where it lay strewn across the floor of the ballroom-a frivolous contradiction to the dense sonics blasting from the stage.
"It's 1991 all over again," someone in the crowd remarked, and, indeed, Sometime Sweet Susan did bring to mind the days of The Smashing Pumpkins and Jawbox. This time a new generation of youngsters were thrashing it up stage-side, though, trying to absorb the glory days of a musical era whose light hasn't quite been extinguished yet.