Saturday’s show at Cactus Club, curated
by Peter J. Woods for the Experimental Milwaukee series, featured four very
different experimental acts from in and around Wisconsin. Woods, himself one of
the major nodes of
Another Technicolor Teeth gig, another
few frequencies closer to complete hearing loss. And once again, it was worth
it. The Appleton trio celebrated the vinyl release of its Teenage Pagans LP and supported Philadelphia’s
Last time I checked, Independence Day was still a long way off. But this weekend, there were fireworks. Indie rock dynamo Local Natives met a frenzied capacity crowd Friday night at the Riverside Theater, with explosive results.
Even winter has its “dog days,” and
Milwaukee is in the slushy thick of them. Annoyingly low temperatures, mediocre
pro basketball and a slow trickle of live music make these late-winter months
particularly hard to get through.
Coming to the rescue was Saturday’s East
Side Music Tour, a day-long music festival that crammed 50 bands and hundreds
of bodies into every conceivable cranny of Brady Street, bringing live music
and a fresh crowd to a neighborhood known chiefly for its bar scene.
I showed up around 7, and, feeling like
a kid who’d just been let loose at Disney World, hightailed it to the nearest
festival-friendly establishment. Ivy Spokes hadn’t started at Crisp, and Into
Arcadia was just finishing up at Hi Hat, but I struck on something at the Up
and Under, where The Fatty Acids were already playing to a packed house. The
stage at Up and Under would be small for most bands, and especially so for the
hyperactive five-piece; but if anything, the close quarters made them sound
even tighter than usual. The night was still young as I made my
way to Roman Coin to see Mortgage Freeman, a band I’d never heard but was
prepared to like because of its name. It always made me think of a band you’d
accidentally find in some townie dive, dressed business casual, playing on top
of a pool table and covering the theme to “Family Matters.” Believe it or not,
that’s exactly what I found when I walked into Roman Coin.
After enjoying a few minutes of
Freeman’s good-natured bar-prog, I trekked back to the Garage to see Paper
Holland, whose lush pop is the musical equivalent of hot chocolate. The band
played songs from its debut album Happy Belated,
and while they seemed a bit nervous, the album’s pop sense and snappy guitar
work (see: “Rory”) came through loud and clear.
Across the street, Hello Death was
tuning up at Rochambo. Tucked behind the railing of an upstairs balcony, the
group played in the dark, silhouetted by the light from a window overlooking
the street. The relaxed atmosphere of the tea house was perfect for Hello
Death’s somber, intimate folk, making it one of the best performances of the
While Hello Death dirged, D’Amato raged
next door at Jo-Cat’s, which was so crowded that the staff was helpless to do
anything about the cloud of smoke hanging over the room. D’Amato is a bona fide
performer, and he worked the crowd while switching effortlessly from irreverent
rap to golden-throated soul. His cover of Prince’s “How Come You Don’t Call Me
Anymore” was a highlight.
I hustled to Club Brady to get a spot
for Jaill. The place was packed from door to stage and the anticipation was
palpable. I have been to several Jaill shows in the last few months, and this
was by far the best. The band seems to have finally settled into its new
lineup, sounding muscular and confident, feeding off the raucous audience and
busting out a great cover of Talking Heads’ “Wild Wild Life.”
Could Brady Street be a legitimate live
music destination? Are fanny packs cool again? Is Monta Ellis for real at point
guard? The East Side Music Tour left festival-goers with plenty of burning
questions, but one thing was certain Saturday night: There is a lot of great
music being made in Milwaukee right now, and I think the hundreds of listeners
who showed up to hear it—dog days be damned—would agree.
In the seven years since The Darkness disbanded, Justin Hawkins got sober, his brother Daniel formed a new band and the world was forced to move on from its sudden obsession with power chords and leotards. Or so it seemed. During its performance at The Rave Saturday night, the reunited, re-energized Darkness
After an afternoon that was practically balmy, Wednesday took a familiarly frigid turn post-sundown, bringing us all back to the icy reality that is January in Wisconsin. January is typically a slow time for shows, so Wednesday
Nada Surf is 20 years old, which means there are ostensibly a number of 40-somethings walking around with a well-worn place in their Walkmans for this band, an alt-rock mainstay that overcame one-hit wonder status to
Milwaukee's Aloft Hotel sticks out like a sore thumb at the north end of Old World 3rd Street. Next to the old-fashioned architecture of Mader's and the Usinger's store, Aloft looks like something from a Dr. Seuss book&mda...