Friday, Aug. 21, 2009

WMSE's Radio Summer Camp Begins

By Evan Rytlewski
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WMSE's Radio Summer Camp launched strongly last night with an all-local bill at the Turner Hall Ballroom, where Juniper Tar, aided by the ballroom's booming acoustics, delivered the most resounding, rocking set I've ever seen from them and '90s rockers Sometime Sweet Susan continued their well-timed reunion. With young bands like No Age aping the era, and veterans like Sonic Youth and Dinosaur Jr. winning praise for new albums that sound more or less exactly like the ones they released in 1993, Sometime Sweet Susan's unchanged sound is suddenly very relevant again.

The Radio Summer Camp festival continues this weekend with highlights including a concert tonight at the Cactus Club topped by Rural Alberta Advantage—whose Saddle Creek re-released debut album, Hometowns, has emerged as one of the word-of-mouth albums of the summer—and a "Backyard BBQ" concert in Cathedral Square Park tomorrow with Justin Townes Earle, Joe Pug and The Championship, among others. The weather should be about 68 degrees and sunny—in other words, perfect. Later that night Call Me Lightning and Decibully headline dueling concerts across the street from each other at Club Garibaldi and the Cactus Club, respectively.

WMSE flirted with a multi-venue music festival package last year, organizing a hasty but ambitious event called MSE Fest. Radio Summer Camp is the logical follow-up to that experiment, a better publicized festival with a richer lineup. With luck, it will become an annual affair like Madison's similarly concieved Forward Music Festival, which is entering its second year with a schedule that includes Andrew Bird, Low, Yacht, Fruit Bats and Richard Buckner. There's a lot of potential here.

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