Thursday, Sept. 3, 2009

Memories of The Globe East

By Evan Rytlewski
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On ThirdCoast Digest, DJ Hostettler posted an excellent remembrance piece today about the old Globe East, an anchor of the East Side music scene in the 1990s, before North Avenue was completely overrun by college bars. It's a must-read for any student of Milwaukee music history, detailing a time when the city's live music scene was so feeble that most punk bands worth seeing skipped Milwaukee in favor of Green Bay.

For me, the Globe was particularly notable as ground zero of Milwaukee's thriving, ahead-of-the-curve '90s ska scene, hosting regular shows by locals like The Invaders, legends like The Skatalites and rising third-wavers like Mustard Plug. Rare was the show over $10.

Because of various management issues and problems with the neighborhood and neighbors that I never quite followed, the venue's final year or two were rough. One of the last shows they held was Cursive on March 20, 2003, just weeks after The Ugly Organ came out and the night the United States invaded Iraq. An unclear conflict forced the cancellation of the band's scheduled 6 p.m. all ages show, crushing all the kids who had driven in who weren't old enough for the 10 p.m. show. The band used the downtime to get unbelievably drunk, while a few of us watched blurry coverage of the bombings on the venue's tiny television behind the bar. It seemed a fitting coda.

Most of the dozens of shows I saw at the Globe are now a blur, but I think about the venue's absence almost every time I'm on North Avenue. I recall how colorful musicians would park where they could, then poke around Prospect Mall and crate dig at Farewell or Atomic Records before the show. It's almost bizarre to think about now, but Milwaukee's East Side used to be a bizarre, quirky, amazing place, and the epicenter of the local music scene. But as those local stores were replaced by interchangeable grabs at the college buck, that music scene flocked to the west and to the south. The neighborhood isn't the same without the Globe.

Photo of The Casket Lottery at the Globe.

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