Sticks N Stones: Newcomers Greeted by a Supportive Scene
Kalfahs is guitarist/vocalist of one of those “garage” bands. His trio, flippantly dubbed Sticks N Stones, is only a few months old, but they’re already booked on bills opening for national acts like The Ponys. That’s despite strong competition from all those other bands springing up, but apparently being “one of the many” in a city newly stoked about its local scene isn’t half-bad—in fact, it sometimes helps you score the awesome shows.
“In Milwaukee … there are a lot more people involved now: more bands, more places to play, more people DJing, making fliers, promoting shows, etc.,” Kalfahs says. “Things have become easier because of that. People from elsewhere have also been moving here steadily, it seems, because it's a good place for music. There are a lot of good people here doing things. It's a good time to be here and playing music.”
All the buzz and hype has been creating opportunities for new bands like Sticks N Stones, which also includes Jon Heibler on drums and Natalie Clark on bass and vocals. The scene takes notice of anything that has that extra something, and Sticks N Stones have already gotten some pretty juicy shows because of the eagle eyes that are currently on local bands. One of their first gigs was with Fat Possum Records’ rowdy Alabamans, Thomas Function, and recently they’ve opened for French psych outfit Yussuf Jerusalem and Seattle’s The Spits. No sweat that the band was invited to open for Chicago’s post-rock moodies, The Ponys, right? Heibler remarks, “Kevin [Meyer], from Dusty Medical, books most of the shows and I guess he just has good taste in music and asks us to play a lot.”
Having pals and the straightforward garage sound that’s got people’s ears right now are key, but a band’s storied local history adds even more intrigue to the newness. Both Kalfahs and Heibler were part of the infamous Teenage Rejects and Catholic Boys, and Clark played in The Tears. Currently, Heibler, Kalfahs and Clark also put in time with The Sugar Stems and The Flips.
Kalfahs says, “We’re all just big music and record nerds. Playing in a band is more fun than anything else—I’ll always want to play in a band … as soon as one band splits, we try getting something new going right away. I can’t think of a better hobby, listening to records and playing guitars. That’s what we like to do.”
Sounds like the perfect prep course for a band in a saturated scene.
Sticks N Stones and Minneapolis’ Terrible Twos open for The Ponys at The Cactus Club on Thursday, Oct. 29.