The Flame That Killed John Wayne

The title lonk, of course, is from the Mekons.  Google it if you are curious; it’s from the Retreat From Memphis album, which is awesome.

The 5th was just too fucking hot.  I couldn’t bear it. The lineups were middling at best, and not enough to draw me, which is saying quite a bit, innit?

We went and caught a flick instead.

ZORGelmo, however, reports that he has much of the intervening schedule information post-1991; the pre-1991 info being provided previously.  So I am obliged to really do a proper job of working this info into a database.  I dunno if I will ever be able to incorporate it into the  WordPress mold without custom work and/or storage upgrades, but at a minimum, I will have a snappy little reference document.

Looking back through the history of the Fest, there are several things, some feelings, that arose.  For example, I noticed that the Fest was VERY regionally based for a very long time.  There were many years that the BoDeans played two consecutive nights;  punk-metal screamers Die Kreuzen played several times.  Even Couch Flambeau played the fest, and there are no less fest-y bands than Die Kreuzen or Couch Flambeau.

But; there seemed to me to be several things going on, and seeing these band lists by year limned it in a way that seems revealing.  At very closely related times, Summerfest was becoming a popular stop for touring acts, and record labels were becoming threatened by digital media; responding, of course, by cutting back on A&R.

And that was about the time that I started noticing that local talent was being choked out.  I had friends who had awesome bands at the time;  Sugarfoot comes to mind.  But there was no upward path anymore; labels had killed their development path, and where there used to be the possibility of getting local exposure at Summerfest, it was being challenged by more established regional acts, who were also being pushed by national acts.  It’s not as if Summerfest was trying to squeeze out local bands, as many in the local biz claimed; but the pipelines were being narrowed.

And it seems that there is some correlation  between the success and changes of Summerfest, and the viability of the local music scene.  There were years where living on the East Side, especially, meant that you were never too far from a live band, most likely playing original music.

It was a time that made me what I am today.  It was a time where noise and art and anger and love and sideways haircuts were the course of the day.

When I first started getting into punk music, I was not in Milwaukee, I was in a cowtown-land grant collidge, and a friend and I decided to get pierced ears after drinking the morning away. So we went down the main street to a jewelry story, where the young lady at the front was happy to take our business; however, the old guy at the back, barely looking up, said “we don’t do males”  Keep in mind this was 1982.  Craig said “why, are men’s ears too TOUGH  for your equipment?”

We ended up borrowing a ride from friends to the IOWA to a mall, where we got the staple gun treatment.

After the weirdness involved in getting my first ear piercing, I was a bit discombobulate when I got to Milwaukee, where having an earring (even for a guy) was not unusual. Within a short period of time, I pierced that ear a second time, and then did the opposite ear for good measure.  I still have two of those piercings.


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