Fan-Belt contributor DJ Hostettler plays drums in Ifihadahifi
1. My band embarrasses a member of the Go-Gos at Steel Bridge ’08
This year was my band’s third year playing pAt mAcdonald’s Steel Bridge Songfest up in Sturgeon Bay, and our friend Dixie from White, Wrench, Conservatory’s first year participating in the week-long writer’s workshop that takes place in the days leading up to the festival. Dixie was fortunate enough to be teamed with a certain former Go-Go named Jane Wiedlin, a recent transplant to Madison no matter what her MySpace says. The show we played at the fest took place in a bowling alley and also featured WWC and Madison rockers Whore du Jour, who are also Jane’s backing band from time to time. Thus, Jane was at our show, dancing up a storm and being crazy and rowdy.
Now, it’s important to note a few things for this story to have its full impact: 1) My band covers the Go-Gos’ “We Got the Beat” and 2) we found out from Dixie earlier in the day that “We Got the Beat,” well, isn’t one of Jane’s favorite Go-Gos tunes, to put it politely. Of course, during our set we were way too drunk to care about what Jane liked, so at one point HiFi bassist The Fucking Wizard exclaims loudly in the the mic, “JANE! I know you don’t like this song, but you’ve gotta sing it with us! Get up here!” Jane leaps onto the stage while saying “what are we doing? I don’t know your songs,” while I start the opening drum beat for “We Got the Beat.”
At the afterparty upstairs from the bowling alley, the members of WWC described it like so: “And then, when you guys started playing the song, Jane very obviously rolled her eyes but started singing anyway.” Jane, if you’re reading this, you’re a great sport and we’re thrilled to have you in Wisconsin. Thanks for singing with us, and sorry if we made you uncomfortable.
Ah, hell. We’re not sorry.
2. Killdozer and Monotonix destroy the Forward Music Fest in Madison
In September, some enterprising Madisonians threw a big weekend-long party called the Forward Music Fest in the Capitol Square area of our sister city 75 miles west. The highlights were easily Israel’s kings of chaos Monotonix, who pulled out all their usual tricks and stunts to blow away the crowd at the Majestic Theatre, and the reformation of Madison’s sleeping pigfuck giants, the mighty KILLDOZER at the High Noon Saloon (possibly the best music venue in the state—sorry, Pabst Theater and Cactus Club). The ‘Dozer sludged through a greatest hits collection of early gems, classic covers (including Neil Diamond’s “I Am I Said” and ZZ Top’s “La Grange”) and latter-day crowd faves (including “Knuckles the Dog Who Helps People” in the encore), leaving the devoted badger throng fully decimated and begging for more. My entire weekend was captured for posterity on my VITAL Source blog, “Cultural Zero,” so read more there if you’re so inclined, and hope that the weekend was successful enough for the organizers to do this all again next fall.
3. The best album of 2008 was put out by a band you’ve never heard of
Keep your Nine Inch TV on the Deerhoofs—Ho-Ag‘s Doctor Cowboy was far and away my favorite release of 2008. Boston’s finest noise rock spazzmatics put together another solid collection of darkly mischievous left turns and theremin-flavored hijinks in the most art damaged of Devo-esque traditions. You haven’t heard a band like this, I promise you. Check out the MP3 at the end of the post.
Ho-Ag’s Beantown running buddies Neptune also made a mark this year with their perversely fucked up Gong Lake, and in the realm of things you may have heard of, Future of the Left followed in the footsteps of their predecessors Mclusky with the bitingly sarcastic Curses. And there you have it—my top three of 2008.
4. Milwaukee’s best musical trend of 2008: noise-rock’s on the rise
The emergence of noisy, abrasive, and invigorating acts like Freight, Pigs on Ice and Disguised as Birds bodes well for the future of Milwaukeeans who like their rock-n-roll loud, harsh and hard to swallow. These acts follow in the footsteps of fellow noiseniks Call Me Lightning and China Pig, taking the skronkiest bits from mid-90s Chicago (Jesus Lizard), DC (Jawbox, Crownhate Ruin) and Kansas City (Shiner), soaking them in Milwaukee blood and beer to make the sound their own. If this is the sound of Milwaukee in 2009 and beyond, business is gonna be picking up.
5. Milwaukee’s worst musical trend of 2008: NPR-approved cabaret freak-folk or whatever the hell you call it when 10 people are on stage at once just because the songwriter’s housemates still own their old high school band instruments
Seriously, people. Just because your drinking buddies own some banjos and oboes and whatever the hell else, doesn’t mean that having them all on stage at once will mask your lack of songwriting chops. If you’re in a basement right now with some pals trying to start a new local band, and the first thing you guys ask each other is ok, who do we know with a glockenspiel?, stop. Milwaukee’s exceeded its quota of Elephant 6 devotees. Throw in a copy of Fun House and start rocking, for god’s sake.
MP3: ‘Teeth for Eyes,’ Ho-Ag