Archives For Milwaukee

Wilco’s been on the brain lately. With all of the deserved buzz surrounding The Whole Love and their upcoming shows in Madison and later, Milwaukee, they’ve been taking up a lot of my headspace. And then, when stumbling around YouTube, I found this video that I shot from the 2nd row of the balcony at the Pabst Theater in 2009. I don’t think I ever posted it or that it’s very good. But it exists so….don’t get motion sick;)

I’m not going to go on too long about this show but to say that I was a bit peeved by the final notes is a bit of an understatement. First and foremost, the music was good. Titus Andronicus continues to be impressive and explosive. Even with sound issues (believe it or not, they weren’t loud enough). Honestly, I’m surprised a riot doesn’t break out every time they play. I’ll definitely make an effort to see them whenever they’re around. Without a doubt.

And Bright Eyes. Well-Conor and co.  were better than good too.  Mike Mogis and Nate Wolcott are terrific musicians that add a ton to Oberst’s live show and the amount of applause they both received when announced is a true testament to that.  As for this particular evening, having seen Bright Eyes several times, I would say that musically this show sits somewhere near the middle. Song selection was  a bit People’s Key heavy but they managed to pull it off pretty well. The new songs sounded good and a little less flat than some of them do on record. There was also a nice mix of older tunes-a couple from I’m Wide Awake got a lot of people excited and “Bowl of Oranges” served as a nice singalong for a crowd that acted like they were at their first concert. Ever.

But besides the good that came from the night, the bad will probably be a little more memorable to me. I think what really got me going was the fact that there wasn’t a Titus Andronicus/Bright Eyes section where only Desaparecidos songs were played (totally joking, although that would’ve been rad).

But seriously,  the fist pumping dudes toward the front that jeered at every drug or alcohol reference, shouted I LOVE YOU Conor like they were thirteen year olds at a Dashboard Confessional show, were a little much. I know, I know,  I used to be that dude.  But…on this night there was no escaping them.  As the show went on, no matter where I went that wasn’t the Riverside lobby, they seemed to multiply. And while that was moderately tolerable right up to the encore, what I was really unimpressed with was the fact that the show ran amok and turned into a political soap box.

Rock n roll can be political. Hell, rock n roll is political. It stemmed from, among other things, political and social angst. So. Ok. Write political songs, incorporate political undertones that express your angst into your lyrics-basically be Titus Andronicus-but I could honestly care less about what a celebrity has to say about it. My allegiances may align with yours, but I could honestly give a shit if you want a crowd of people to press your proverbial “like” button while you stumble around the stage shouting. Sure, everyone ate it up. They went wild.

Fact is- instead of all of the useless banter,  I would’ve rather heard two more songs. I mean, that’s what we paid for. But instead  I learned that politicians are fundamentalist Christians that worship an imaginary deity and are only concerned about corporate America. Thanks. My life was enriched by that.

I was honestly entertained by their 2007 Milwaukee performance when an overindulged Oberst fell into his string section, jumped into the audience, and gave his guitar away. That show is memorable for the unbelievable set that Bright Eyes played and the fact that Conor was composed enough to skillfully play a guitar and sing his heart out while barely being able to stand on two feet. But the music was not the memorable part of this particular night.  Since their music was so important to me at a crucial part of my formative years and the fact that I genuinely enjoy the hell out their records, I’m kind of hoping that I forget about it.

88.9 Radio Milwaukee continues to be a great resource for introducing newer music as well as rekindling some old flames. Insanely diverse. Never repetitive. And full of love for Milwaukee.

I’ve recently been gushing over a song that they’ve been playing- Amos Lee’s “Windows Are Rolled Down.” It’s pretty incredible. And I guess I have seen him play it live before but had no idea until I saw this video. Apparently he played it at Farm Aid this past year. Heh. Must’ve been after I Pabst out on my friend’s shoulder. Enjoy….

Tonight I had an opportunity to do something that I never dreamed was possible; I saw PAVEMENT at the Pabst Theater in Milwaukee. While interviews with Stephen Malkmus had me a bit worried about the seriousness and overall tightness that this ‘short’ reunion would showcase, all concerns were left behind when the first notes of “Two States” were played. From my angle, the band had just as much fun rewinding the last 15 years as the crowd did. They joked, shouted, and bounced around like a band that’s just starting out. Amazing! If you have a chance to see Pavement, do so. You may never get another chance to see a band that might be a piece of your puzzle.

Instead of boring or intriguing you with the details of the show or recapping the encyclopedia of songs that they played, I will just tell you that they only teased “Type Slowly” and that nostalgia through music is real. I was transported back to picking up a used copy of Slanted and Enchanted to entering and exiting a countless number of retailers in search of the reissue of the same album years later during my junior year at UW-Madison. On this particular night I envisioned my skater youth, life defining conversations amidst cigarette smoke and finding comfort in music during a time of massive disillusionment. Pavement, much like a lot of the music that I tend to hold near and dear to my heart, will always symbolize simpler times; times when decisions were easy and life didn’t contain spreadsheets. These brief vacations from daily existence can be the best and the worst prescriptions for ruts. It just depends how you use them.

Trippin’ Batters?

September 12, 2010 — Leave a comment

I’ve heard the term ‘trippin’ balls’ a few times in my day in regards to an intense experience on LSD but I’ve never heard- ‘trippin’ batters.’ According to this, Pittsburgh Pirates pitcher Dock Ellis threw a no hitter in 1984 in the midst of an acid trip.  If the Pirates were smart(?) they would start dosing their Gatorade coolers and maybe, just maybe, they’d win some ball games.

Related Awesome: An animated short of this incident, ‘the greatest achievement in sports history,’ will be part of the Milwaukee Film Festival.  At midnight on October 2, the Oriental Theater will be showing The Best Damn F*#@ing Midnight Program Ever. Sh*t, featuring Dock Ellis and the LSD No-No.

It’s been a long week and again, it’s only effin’ Wednesday.  Helping keep my eyes on the prize is a jam packed weekend with some great folks.  With two Strand of Oaks shows, a meeting with the Seizure Chicken family, and the promise of Pavement at the end of it all I’m sure to be one tired dude on Monday.  This week my spirits are also kept up by this:

Tonight’s “Storm the Bastille” 5K, the annual lead in to Milwaukee’s celebration of berets and towers named after men named Eiffel, led thousands of smiling sweaty runners and walkers through the streets of downtown.  This year’s festival features some great talent in Milwaukee native and favorite Paul Cebar (July 8), The Dirty Dozen Brass Band (July 9), Lisa Haley and the Zydecats (July 10), and Appleton native Cory Chisel closes out the weekend with his band the Wandering Sons (July 11).  Do yourself a favor and check out this truly unique festival in the middle downtown Milwaukee.  And if for some reason you are unable to attend you can still achieve a French feel by eating Nutella smothered crepes while watching this video of my  favorite froggy import over and over again.

When I think of France I think of amazing electropop.  Well there’s that and game changing headbutts.

Prior to last night’s Hold Steady set at Summerfest’s US Cellular Connection Stage I was engulfed with nervous anticipation.  It was my first time seeing The Hold Steady without the crowd pleasing party starter Franz Nicolay.  It was my first time seeing The Hold Steady play material off of a new record that (so far) has the least amount of intensity and replayability.  And it was my first time seeing The Hold Steady at a festival that places little more emphasis on sound quality and crowd comfort than it does on making sure that fifteen year olds aren’t smuggling in flasks of peach schnapps.

SOAP BOX:::::::I only saw two shows at Summerfest this year (Passion Pit & THS) and both were at the US Cellular Connection Stage.  I just want to say that the sound at this stage is ridiculous.  It’s muddy and distracting.  While I am grateful that we only have to pay a meager $15 to see some of our favorite bands in our hometown, it’d be nice if someone took some time and small amount of the massive amounts $$$ this festival generates to fix the sound issues.  If I came from miles away to see anyone and had to deal with a shitty sound system and BLEACHERS that hold no purpose, I’d be pretty unhappy.  Anyway….

The Show

The band stormed out of the gate with “Constructive Summer” and started building a set peppered with favorites from Separation Sunday, Boys and Girls in America, and Stay Positive with well placed new songs folded in.  “The Sweet Part of the City” ” The Weekenders” “Hurricane J” and “Rock Problems” translated well live, kept pace, and should be welcomed into live sets by any fan of the band.

Highlight of the night: “Sequestered in Memphis.”  From where I was standing, this was the only song that the crowd around me knew all the words to.  I found out that a Hold Steady show can sometimes only be as good as the crowd around you.  Singing, shouting, and flailing around in unison with Craig Finn and an elated audience is truly the highlight.  Hopefully some of the fans that got on board with Stay Postive and Heaven is Whenever will do some research and one day lose their voices during the “woh-oh” parts in “Massive Nights.”

Bummer: The set was devoid of Almost Killed Me. When it was 11:30 and the band was finishing Separation Sunday’s “How a Resurrection Really Feels” I was certain they would have time left for end of the nighter “Killer Parties,” but I was wrong.

Overall, it didn’t reach the epic levels of jubilation that a Hold Steady show usually does for me but it still didn’t totally disappoint.  And while I missed looking on at the suited, mustachioed, and dapper looking key tapper, the Franz Nicolay-less Hold Steady still breathes life into it’s audience with the best of them.


June 27, 2010 — Leave a comment

Early Saturday morning a block of North Farwell Avenue on Milwaukee’s lower Eastside was blocked off as a crew of workers attempted to remove a tree that was ripped from the ground off of the hood of a 1998 Ford Taurus. One witness stated that it wasn’t the work of damaging winds but a force of nature known as Future Man. The unnamed witness told reporters that “Future Man,” named so because of his ability to see hours into the future, upset about a 2-1 USA loss to Ghana in soccer’s World Cup, lifted the tree from the earth and pushed it onto the car. Predicted four hours prior to game time and with the result being exactly what Future Man predicted, we now have no choice but to believe that Future Man can indeed predict the future. Eye witness and founder of Milwaukee music blog M. Goldstein surmised, “if he has the power to do that, then why shouldn’t we believe that he could manhandle that tree.”

Tonight there’s gonna be a party at the US Cellular Connection/102.1 stage at Milwaukee’s own Summerfest! I was surprised by some twitter chatter that some of my pals don’t know Passion Pit.  Here’s a glimpse.  Come for the fireworks, stay for the music!