Monthly Archives: May 2013

Factory Showroom

iTunes brought up a song from a Wisconsin band, Vinny Bex Dae who are kind of amazing; not to mention that they kind of run the Refugee Stage at Summerfest, one of our favorite cool down and hangout spots.  Apparently, though, the secret is out because it is getting kind of packed on a regular basis.

It is worth mentioning that the scrawny dude whaling on the bongos in that video also fronts an irish-punk-folk band called Whiskey of The Damned, who are playing one of the big stages on the same day as Dropkick Murphys.

Dudes. we need to get ready.  Are you ready?  Do you have your tickets?  Do your have your Summerfest Shoes?  I do not, in fact have my Summerfest Shoes, but I have scheduled obtaining them.  I am planning.  I am prepared.  I have a Schedule.  I have a T-shirt.

Tomorrow night, we are seeing They Might Be Giants at Turner Hall, and there are a couple of weird stories about that band, but Turner is such an awesome place to see a band.

And in a few weeks, friends, we will all be converging on the Lakefront in order to see lots of bands and misbehave.

Young Hearts Spark Fire

Let’s consider it a warm-up for the Gig of Big, and why not?

Good Friend Rory and I played Criss-Cross on this one, I got him a ticket for the Joy Formidable a few weeks back, and he got me one for the Japandroids.  And both were in the lovely historic Turner Hall venue, one of the best places to see (or be) a band in this fair city.

I was not familiar with the opening band, A Place To Bury Strangers, but a quick visit to YouTube and eMusic convinced me this was well within my wheelhouse.  So the early exchange of texts with Rory was:

I would like to see the opening band

dunno what they sound like

kind of a mix of Joy Division and Jesus/Mary Chain

Keep me updated


…on my way.

..holy shit I can hear them from a block and a half away.

I was reminded of  a Jello Biafra spoken word piece, where he talked about the first time he saw the Ramones:  “They played one chord — ONE CHORD! — and I knew they would be a FUCK of a lot louder than we ever expected”.  And when the opening band came out, and the bass player started playing the MOST distorted bass I have ever heard, I knew the same thing and I started to think that claiming a table on stage right 12 feet in front of the PA stack may not have been the ideal choice.

But when they started playing, it started to resonate.  The noise and feedback became a counterpoint to the rain and cold outside.  The lights played across the distressed interiors of the Hall, and the sound became the air that we were breathing. And the lights were focused back into the hall, highlighting the 100+ year old structure….Turners always were about spreading culture and music.


The guitarist even ventured into Peter Gabriel territory, pulling a strobe out of the front and jamming it into his guitar, so the sputtering of the ballast would interfere with the pickups to create a new frontier in feedback.

Whew.  That was quite an intro, wasn’t it?  The bartenders would have been well served to have a “speaking board” handy, so they could understand what people wanted without screaming.  Of course, I have a decent bellow, and had no problem in communication.

The Japandroids were, of course, stupendous.  It was their first Milwaukee appearance (and they kind of aplogized for skipping the gig) but nobody held that against them.  And in the end, they played a rare encore [challenging Bob, the light tech, to fill in for a song that he had no programming for][and for which Bob did a hella good job but I get ahead of myself]

Oh my.  SilentMike, dude, you often talk about the ability of the Figgs to be the loudest, fullest three member live band?  Dude, you needed to be here, because this was a LOUD full amazing band performance of a TWO PIECE band. Oh gosh, did they ever.

The noise of the opening band was something that levered open my tightly closed skull.  And the Japandroids took that wedge, and used it to lay bare all those old soul aspects, the ones that respond to art and music and science.

For Canadians, they may not be as RAWK as the Great Trinity of Rush (who, of course, are part of the Fest)

But holy fuck , they still rock like hell.  And they rocked a lot of my head.

Of course, it is very important that my head be properly cleansed for onset of The Fest.  And in some ways, it seems appropriate that a bunch of Canucks do so.

Of course, there is also an episode of Brooklyn geeks to make sure:

Friday, Friday, we’re gonna be geek rocking on Friday…

Empires and Dance

This ain’t no Kevin Bacon, crap You can dance at Summerfest….

No need to leave your friends behind

Act like you come from out of this world

leave the real world far behind

you can act real rude and totally removed

and I can act like an imbecile

make sure to wear your bassoon t-shirt.  29 days….

All Over The Radio

Turns out, one of my favorite bands to see live released a new album three weeks ago.  Cloud Cult (from MN).  Why didn’t anyone tell me? 

These folks are such a weird mix of hippy-trippy love and hope (they use carbon offsets to make their tours neutral and record their music on a self-sustainable farm), pop music mixed with instrumental noise-freakouts and electronica, and a live show that features two artists drawing on the band and audience energy to create paintings that are then sold off. 

The death of Craig Minowa’s 2 year old son forced him to deal with the loss by writing hundreds of songs, that eventually became the album “They Live On The Sun”.  I’ve seen them three times.  It would be lovely if they were to play at Summerfest, but nothing has been really said about the earlier acts yet.

here’s a viddy for “Good Friend” from their new album.

Oh this life is so strange, you need a sense of humor.
The maker is half caretaker and half joker.
We are not broken ones…just shattered pieces of the same bright sun,
trying to figure out which way to run,
And I can’t do this alone.

All I need is a good good friend
To get me through this.
All I need is a good good friend
To help me out
When I’m burning down
When I’m all stressed out
When I’m underground.

Life is a playground, but it takes a lot work.
You better learn to love, or it’ll tear you apart,
cuz in the end, we are measured by the size of our heart,
and we can’t do this alone.

Some of us are laughing, while some of us are choking
Some of us can’t change til every bone has been broken.
All the while the maker just sits there joking, “You never really were alone.”

All I need is a good good friend
To get me through this.
All I need is a good good friend
To help me out
When I’m burning down
When I’m all stressed out
Thank you for being around.

I need to find one a them big brown guys.  Anyone besides me flashing on the Trumpy from the MST3K episode “Pod People”?

And that’s a pretty nice haircut


As was discussed recently on the Book of Face, it’s hot and sweaty under all this hair when it’s humid like this, so I got it all cut off today.

Well, not all of it, but it’s still a pretty nice haircut.

So that’s one thing ready for summerfest.  Because you it’s not only important to have weather-appropriate hair, but also to look good.

OK, whatever, but I do what I can.

On other fronts, a few more acts have dribbled out.  The Eamerging Artists Series, of which I only recognized Kitten, who opened up for the Joy Formidable.  Also, Cracker and the Meat Puppets are now on the schedule.  Haven’t seen the Pups in a while.

Closer To The Heart

I guess it’s time to dust off this bloggo and get fired up for this year’s Big Grin.

And what better way than with some fucking RAWK?


Oh, yes, the Newly Inaugurated Rock Hall Of Fame Rush will be playing the Fest, yet again, and yes, I have my tix.

But of EVEN MORE IMPORTANCE: the Violent Femmes are re-forming for TWO GODDAM shows and Summerfest is one.  Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros along with the Avett Brothers are opening up, and do I have my tix?  You guess.  In fact, I got a couple extra, so just chime in if you’d like them.

This is the first year in forever that I’ve been obliged to get tix to more than one Marcus show.  Although it is maybe offset by the fact the Eagles are also headlining, those soft-rock shitheads.  If the bookers at Summerfest had any clue and a little bit of humor, they would book Mojo Nixon for the same night.

This year also marks the RETURN OF COMEDY.

Lewis Black is just amazingly cheerful about that, And, yeah, go ahead and be jealous of that lineup.  Social Distortion?  Go-Gos? Dropkick Murphys?  Silversun Pickups?  Trampled By Turtles?  Bad Religion?  Pat Benatar? Loverboy?  Less Than Jake? Brandi Carlisle? The Wailers?

And we don’t have anything on the regular parts of the lineup, yet.

It’s shaping up to be an amazing year.

Of course, since nothing good ever comes without some downer to go with, my favorite Fest Bad Influences are all going to be otherwise occupied or out of town, so I will be just flying solo for the most part.  Perfect target for some amazing Waves, I hope.

So here’s a season kick off, featuring much Canadian Content; One Dude from Trailer Park Boys and One Dude from Barenaked Ladies.

Are they my favorite band?  No, not really.  But they have been a big part of my life ever since as a teenager some asshole punched me in the face for wearing a Rush t-shirt, and they make me happy, and I am looking forward to seeing them again, because we all have such a lovely time when they do.