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Concert Reviews
Monday, March 4, 2013

March 2, 2013

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 night.

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.
Concert Reviews
Tuesday, Jan. 29, 2013

Jan. 26, 2013

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
Concert Reviews
Monday, Dec. 10, 2012

Dec. 7, 2012

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

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