words by Cal Roach
As you probably know, we’re in the thick of the spring pledge drive! In addition to all the fun themed shows and all-around madness on the air, it’s a good time to think about the ever-growing Milwaukee music scene, and what WMSE means to that community. Obviously, this blog would not exist without the station, but you should also realize that a lot of the amazing events we mention in this space every week would also never happen. The people who work and volunteer at the station are out there tirelessly promoting these shows, playing these artists (so many that no other radio station on Earth plays) and supporting the local scene in every possible way. If you are reading this, we know you don’t want that to go away. It means a lot to us, and it means a lot to you, so please do what you can to help out during the drive! Read on for some great examples of what we’re all nurturing together…
Tonight (Friday) at Frank’s Power Plant, it’s the return of one of Milwaukee’s rising (dare we say it?) supergroups, Body Futures. Admittedly, in a local scene as active as ours, the term “supergroup” kinda loses its relevance; new conglomerates form and dissolve constantly, but when members of seminal bands like IfIHadAHifi and white, wrench, conservatory. (among others) join forces, it’s worth taking note, especially when they write songs as killer as the Body Futures canon-so-far. They’ll be joined by Vulture Radio, and if we’re trying to convince you to go to this show, we might best borrow the band’s own description of itself: “Vulture Radio is an energetic rock band from Milwaukee, Wisconsin that makes people feel good. Plain and simple.” Got it? Also playing: The Please, Please Me.
Also tonight in Bay View, it’s a rare opportunity to catch one of Milwaukee’s most enigmatic bands, Scrimshaw, at one of Milwaukee’s least-often-mentioned live music venues, Franky’s Newport Lounge (heck, we’d never heard of it ’til today). The band has been compared to the early, goofy machinations of Ween, which is probably the most apt comparison, particularly because you never know quite what will happen at a Scrimshaw show. Ween, unfortunately, broke up; attend this show to find out if Scrimshaw is the next best thing? This event is also the CD release show for local singer/songwriter Ben Cervenka; you can check out his folkie tunes on Bandcamp if you want to be directly convinced to attend the celebration. Also playing: Capuan Life.
Joe Bonamassa first picked up the guitar at age 8, which means at 35, he’s now been playing guitar longer than many of you have been alive (because only young people Surf The Internet, right?) while still retaining (presumably) the finger dexterity of youth. Even though blues rock is traditionally an old man’s game, and admittedly, Bonamassa’s recently disbanded Black Country Communion sure sounded like classic rock geezers trying to get fresh, you can’t deny the guy can wail. As a solo artist, he draws from a fairly diverse and worldly stylistic palette, so Saturday’s show at the Riverside Theater should be worth seeing even beyond the plentiful guitar solos.
Frequent visitors from south of the border, Chicago’s The Hood Internet is undoubtedly one of the Midwest’s must-see live acts. The appeal is simple: Girl Talk may have vanished in a puff of dubious intellectual property rights and not-wanting-to-be-called-a-DJ, but the art of the mashup will never die. Get ready to dance your butt off tonight at Mad Planet to mixtures of hip hop and indie rock that pretty much any music fan will love. The duo just released their first actual album, FEAT, in December, but they’ve been churning out mixtapes since 2007; rest assured, if you somehow haven’t heard of them before, they are definitely experts in this field. Joining the duo will be a couple of local talents: the as-of-late busy-as-heck Klassik (we’ve mentioned him a lot lately, but we’ll still tell you to go listen to his album on Bandcamp), and DJ KMart.
Last weekend, one of the standout sets at the inaugural Milwaukee Psych Fest was by our own Sleepcomesdown, possibly the least psychedelic band at the event and also the most lucidly energetic. Think of frenzied post-punk with lots of shoegaze and electronic influences, but with plenty of choice hooks. The fusion of sounds is a perfect mixture of danceable and dark, upbeat and weird–i.e., quintessential Milwaukee. The band plays Quarters on Tuesday night; with any luck, welcoming May will also herald the end of this neverending winter? We’re expecting a new album soon from this band (it’s even got a name: Cured By The Blur), but not quite yet. The other band on this bill is Austin’s Marriage, featuring ex-members of Black Eyes, and this band did just release a new album, For Brötzmann, which sounds like some killer bass-heavy groove based on the track they have up on Bandcamp, so check it out and also, go to this show.
It’s been all quiet on the We Are Your Father front for some time now, at least in terms of live shows; we weren’t even sure the band still existed, but lo and behold, it’s re-emerging next Thursday with proof that this hasn’t been idle time. Quarters will be the site of the band’s album release party, and it should be a bluesy, stoner-y good time with lots of dirty guitar riffs and plenty of reverb. It’s a great Milwaukee triple-bill, too; Calliope just released a highly enjoyable new self-titled album of quirky, bluesy rock that you should definitely check out, and then there’s Temple, more on the post-hardcore tip but also fresh off a debut album, The Conscience Of The King (Hamlet reference FTW!), that you should listen to and/or purchase.
Also on Thursday, it’s the first night of a brand new festival that we certainly hope will become a yearly tradition: Foster Fest! The idea is to celebrate two years of North Avenue’s newest/oldest music venue, the Hotel Foster. Lots of Milwaukee music fans still remember The Globe East very fondly, and while we still miss that dingy hole and the amazing shows that went down there, it’s cause for celebration that somebody has turned that building into something cool again, which is exactly what has happened. Hotel Foster has already been the site of some of our favorite musical memories of the past couple years (Juniper Tar residency!!), and chances are good that this weekend will produce some more. Things get rolling Thursday with a performance by Milwaukee’s own Kid Millions, who cheered us all up a couple years ago with his classic good-times summer record Recession Proof Rap, as well as DJ Oh La La and…whoops, Klassik again! That dude is everywhere.