words by Cal Roach
Welcome to the end of September! There may still be lingering construction on I-94 heading towards Chicago, even though you could swear it LOOKS like they’re DONE with it but there are still all those BARRELS everywhere, but at least the Wisconsin Avenue bridge is open! You no longer have to go through the Chase lobby and up the elevator and across the skywalk and down through John Hawks Pub or Uhle’s to get to The Riverside if you park on Water Street! But you also can’t brazenly blow through red lights at that intersection anymore if you’re headed south on Water to Bay View or something, so be careful! Hmm, where were we…oh yes, notable events coming up in the Brew City, here’s a quick rundown…
First things first: yesterday was the kickoff party for the 2012 Milwaukee Film Festival! This thing keeps growing and growing; sure, there aren’t any major celebrity presenters or guests, but apparently John Axford didn’t figure he’d be busy around this time of year–he’ll be one of the judges! Plus, you won’t want to miss local auteur Mark Borchardt (he of American Movie fame–and, um, if you haven’t seen that flick, put it at the top of your Netflix queue post-haste), presenter for a screening of Bill Rebane’s 1975 cult classic The Giant Spider Invasion. Plus, the good folks at Hotel Foster will be hosting a kickass live music series throughout the run of the festival, featuring Heidi Spencer & The Rare Birds, Calliope, Hot Coffin and many more. Of course, there are way too many presenters and films and bands to mention; go here to check out the full lineup and everything else you might want to know. The festival runs through October 11th, and we guarantee you’ll find something to love; take a gander at the plethora of films, get out to the theater and watch something in 2-D for once!
So, you’ve got movies to watch; you’ve also got Bay View Gallery Night going on tonight (Friday). The arts community will be out in full force throughout the neighborhood; practically every potential room you can think of in the area of Kinnickinnic Avenue will have visual art and/or music on display. Over 70 artists and 20 bands spread out over 35 venues equals one giant all-night party! A couple of for-instances: Sat. Nite Duets and Fatty Acids at Café Centraal; Hello Death and Dark Dark Dark at Sweet Water Organics; and Vic And Gab and The Ragadors at Club Garibaldi. Many, many more, of course; click here for the long list of venues and artists participating.
Singer/songwriter Glen Hansard made a name for himself in the 90’s and early 00’s with folk-rock combo The Frames, who proved quite popular in their native Ireland but not so much elsewhere. He became a household name around the world, though, with the success of the superb 2006 musical film Once, which Hansard starred in and co-wrote the music for with on-and-off collaborator Markéta Irglová (his partner in The Swell Season). The Frames are supposedly still a band, but as far as anyone can tell, Hansard is pretty much off on his own kick; he just released his first solo album, Rhythm And Repose, a couple months ago, and he will play the Pabst Theater tonight in support of it. Hansard’s background as a busker on the streets of Dublin always shines through in his performances; he hammers the acoustic guitar and his powerful voice barely needs a mic. Also playing: The Lost Brothers.
Saturday night at Club Garibaldi, it’s New York City (by way of Oslo, Norway) singer/songwriter/multi-instrumentalist Mathias Tjonn, who goes by the stage name Racing Heart. It’s a wonder nobody else stole that band name ages ago, because it’s certainly evocative of the way you want to feel while experiencing live music. Tjonn’s latest album, To Walk Beside That Ghost, showcases his unique, clearly Nordic voice above all, flanked by mellow folk instrumentation, rich choral harmonies and a modicum of tasteful orchestration. It’s not nearly as delicate as that sounds; it never gets too busy but the arrangements come together to create some powerful dynamics while always serving to augment the voices. No telling how many musicians will be along for this ride, but this should be a very interesting performance. Joining Racing Heart is Milwaukee’s very own Black Eagle Child, whose intent is almost the polar opposite; rather than words, the focus is on layer after layer of electric guitar and other plugged-in enhancements to create rich tapestries of sound. We’re not talking about just a wall of noise; there are beautiful melodies to be found as well, and Michael Jantz’s intuitive improvisation is sure to pull you in. Also playing: Golden Donna.
Otherwise, you could head to Riverwest Public House, where Elusive Parallelograms will be playing into the wee hours. The band is prepping yet another EP as we speak, but if you haven’t heard it yet, you should definitely check out the two they’ve already put out this year, Habits and Spaces, both available as pay-what-you-want downloads by clicking those links. But in case you need a primer: We’re talking about rock and roll here, straight, no chaser. Their older material leans more towards the punk side, while they’ve developed increasing psychedelic tendencies over the past couple of years. The polish of their records gives way to a more visceral attack live, but above all these guys are great songwriters and they pump out palpable energy when they play ‘em. Also playing: Salinas, power pop out of Winnipeg that should jive well with the Parallelograms.
This seems like a pretty stacked weekend already, but we have to mention Boy Dirt Car, the storied Milwaukee noise/industrial institution, playing Saturday night at the Miramar Theatre. The group’s sound (not to mention its lineup) is hard to pin down, but you should definitely bring earplugs and expect monstrous collages of sound, wave after wave of sonic experimentation, dark and forbidding if that’s your kind of party. Think of it as a purging; believe it or not, it is possible to have fun while embracing your darker side. You’ve got to get that energy out somehow, right? Also playing: The Prosecutors, Dark Façade and Enemy Star.
On Sunday, it’s MELT #20, a nice round number and cause for celebration, because Milwaukeeans should thank the universe each day for living in a town with such a killer experimental electronic music series, going on a year and a half now and just getting bigger and better despite the non-commercial nature of its very definition. If you’re not familiar, you couldn’t pick a better week to give it a try. In the wide world of DJs, there aren’t many that integrate so many cultures and styles into one unique and definitive mixture, a melting pot with its own individual flavor, like Gonjasufi. Buy yourself a copy of his 2010 LP A Sufi And A Killer and load it into a boombox (or, if you must, plug some portable speakers into your iPod) and head out into the woods somewhere and build a fire and blast it loud. The show is Sunday, so you don’t have much time! Or just take our word for it and go to this show. Also performing: Skrapez, Omega Clash.