words by Cal Roach
We figure you probably wouldn’t have stumbled across this little blog if you weren’t also a WMSE listener–and for that, you should be proud–so you’ve probably already heard, but JUST IN CASE: Tonight (Friday) is the 11th Annual WMSE Food Slam! From 6-9 p.m. the Grohmann Museum is the place to be if you have any interest in sampling tasty vittles from 30 different Milwaukee restaurants, participating in a silent auction featuring wares from tons of local artists and businesses, and listening to great music as spun by WMSE DJs. Best of all, you’ll be helping to keep your favorite radio station alive and kicking. So chow down tonight, and read on for a delicious sample platter of other events going on in Milwaukee over the next few days.
After you gorge yourself on the best food the city has to offer, you’ll feel like keeping the party going and expending some energy. As luck would have it, there’s another party going on tonight: the Latest Flame 10th Anniversary Party. The Chicago/Milwaukee-based record label will set up camp at Cactus Club this weekend for a balls-out celebration of noisy rock and roll. Tonight’s headliner is IfIHadAHifi, one of our city’s most electrifying live acts, sure to help you dance off that Purple Door Ice Cream you slurped down at the Food Slam. You’ll also get to see Portland’s System And Station, a group that started out in Madison back in the late 90s and is still going strong with the mathy emotional indie rock thang. Also playing: Victory And Associates, Heavy Hand.
There’s an equally noisy show going on at Riverwest Public House tonight as well, but more on the shoegaze tip: it’s Austin, TX’s Ringo Deathstarr. You’ll instantly recognize My Bloody Valentine as the group’s main influence, but overall this band’s sound is cleaner, a little more upbeat and less reliant on pure guitar wallop, peppered with weirdo electronic beats and other seasonings. But rest assured, lots and lots of distorted guitar, too. You’re already thinking, “I know the PERFECT local band to play this show!” You must be psychic; Brief Candles are indeed on the bill as well, a band that keeps making amazing records (like last year’s excellent Fractured Days) and playing amazing shows as if they don’t know how to do anything else. Plus, WMSE’s own Erik Void will be DJing, sort of a “duh” proposition as well. Also playing: Cousins.
Otherwise, for something much less noisy but probably just as awesome, head to Frank’s Power Plant to catch singer/songwriter Christopher Paul Stelling. The man’s a deft acoustic guitar picker and he writes old-timey folky songs and sings them in a high register like Dave Matthews crossed with Xavier Rudd. You’ll have to hope that the crowd isn’t too chatty for this mellow show, although things might be a bit more boisterous early on; if there’s one local singer that can get an audience to shut up and pay attention, it’s Mark Waldoch. The Celebrated Workingman troubadour will open the show with a solo set, and then it’ll be one of the city’s most promising new bands, Hello Death. Formed by a handful of Altos, the captivating combination of upright bass, guitar, violin and keys and haunting vocals that span pretty much the full range of human pitch is certain to impress.
Your day starts early Saturday if you want to pack in all the excitement possible. It may be a bit nippy outside, but the East Side Green Market is still open for business, so bundle up and support some local food-growers and stuff-makers; your opportunities to stock up on fresh garden veggies are dwindling, people! While you’re there in the Beans & Barley parking lot, why not pop in there for one of their delicious egg burritos and a cup of coffee, and then take in some tunes by local band Shoot Down The Moon? They’ll be set up outside, playing echoey, guitar-driven dreampop perfect for a chilly late-morning meal. This band may be under the radar at the moment, but check out the above-linked Bandcamp page for some seriously excellent tunes.
If you pay attention to the business of music at all, you know that it’s been a rough millennium so far for the institution known as the record store; some of us are still smarting from the loss of our beloved Atomic Records back in 2009. Despite that tragedy, we are really spoiled here in Milwaukee, with places like RushMor and Bullseye still going strong, and now, the unheard-of: a new record store opening up right in our town! Yep, it’s called Acme Records & Music Emporium, and as a music-lover, if that doesn’t get your blood pumping, we don’t know what will. Full disclosure: The proprietor of said shop is none other than WMSE’s own Shopkeeper Ken, which should tell you right there that awesomeness will ensue here. The event promises refreshments as well as live music courtesy of local guitar wizard Jim Warchol and also Red Stuff, who are taking this opportunity to have a release party for their new record. So head to 2431 S. Kinnickinnic between noon and 7 and celebrate the fact that record stores are not, in fact, dead.
Get ready for a night of psychedelic experimentation on Sunday at Frank’s Power Plant with a killer eclectic lineup of local and nonlocal talent. In the local department: Moss Folk, a band that’s been exceedingly busy playing out this year despite having hardly any recorded music to be found anywhere. So, your only option really is to get out and experience the trippy, droney band live, which is highly recommended. Also, local experimental electronic artist Stacian (aka WMSE DJ Stacian) will be performing a DJ set in advance of the upcoming release of her new album, Songs For Cadets (due out later this month). Then there’s regional noisemakers Technicolor Teeth, who have a great album called Teenage Pagans that seems to have disappeared from Bandcamp for some reason. In the nonlocal category: Angel Eyes, Australian psych/trance outfit that should fit right in with this odd but surely intriguing lineup.
Monday night is yet another release party for an acclaimed local act, this one taking place at Stonefly Brewery. Atmospheric folk duo Blessed Feathers will be playing in celebration of their new album, Peaceful Beasts In An Ocean Of Weeds. This is another occasion where you have to hope the often noisy Riverwesterners keep the chatter to a minimum, as this is probably one of the quietest bands around, although they sometimes get into tribal whooping and yelping and there’s sure to be minimal percussion to go along with the banjo and guitar-based acoustic tunes. Also playing: Columbus, Ohio’s Way Yes.