While doing some shopping at B-Side Records on State Street before the bands started on Saturday, I overheard some of the store employees echoing a sentiment I had been hearing from a few other people regarding this year’s Forward Music Festival in Madison: “where’s the draw this year?” Sure, acts like Andrew Bird and Low are nothing to sneeze at, but when compared to last year’s diverse three-pronged attack of Neko Case, Bob Mould, and local legends Killdozer, this year’s crop of national headliners felt a little less exciting. Add to this the fact that most of the national acts seemed lazily culled from the annals of Pitchfork’s “Best New Music” (Yacht, Antlers, Ra Ra Riot), and my enthusiasm for the trek to Madtown wasn’t what it was last year. Still, I’m a huge fan of the Festival in principle, and want to see a big, multivenue music fest succeed and thrive in Wisconsin, so I hopped in the car and drove west.
Minimalistic beauty is waxing in the musical world. Perhaps no one in Milwaukee has been quite as aware of this as percussionist, Jon Mueller (Collections of Colonies of Bees). The past week has seen his name in glowing lights on the critical music web site Pitchfork: one, for an 8/10 review of his solo release Physical Changes and two, for his participation and contributions as part of the Volcano Choir, Justin Vernon’s new musical allies of the entire hive of CoCo Bees as they released one song, “Island, IS” for public speculation. Pitchfork quips that Mueller is “the locomotive” behind the forthcoming Volcano Choir material (slated for a September release) and praises that, concerning Physical Changes, Mueller has “long stood just at the edge of indie notoriety” and calls his solo release “one of the year’s boldest statements”. Mueller, who has spent countless hours not only creating his own brand of avant garde, has also been the cheerleader for other musicians of his ilk, working as the driving force behind Crouton, a now-defunct local label that has released works from Hal Rammel, Steven Hess and The Hafler Trio since 1998.
Mueller’s intricately intense body of percussional work can be found at his MySpace page, where each ‘change’ bleeds just so, into one, large opus. This body of work is dissected and explained in two pieces found at Tokafi.com: an interview and review. Below, is the premier release of Volcano Choir, “Island, IS”, ready for the public’s own dissection and scrutiny.
Physical Changes will be performed, live, along with a video screening on Thursday, September 3rd at the Haggerty Museum of Art in the Helfaer Theatre (13th & Clybourn) at 7 p.m. Mueller will be presenting the work along with Jim Shoenecker and David Bailey to combine percussion, electronic music and video.
Now, hitting the thirties and forties means a gravitation towards the practice space for musicians who once thrashed it up in damp basements, sweaty, smoky clubs long-gone, and on road trips, documented with only a few dog-eared photos. More and more scene veterans are becoming less nostalgic and making it more official. Start a band and play a show: that’s the way it goes.
For the Dim Suns, comprised of Milwaukee 80s/90s rock vets Jon Lyman, Franz Buchholtz, Mike Allen and Andy Reis (namely of Compound Red and Sometime Sweet Susan fame) it’s something that fell into place with minimal effort. Fan-belt talks to Reis about the magnetization towards practice space, new material and the stage as the four musicians prepare for their show together as the Dim Suns at the Cactus Club this Saturday.
Candliers (CD Release) + Heidi Spencer and the Rare Birds @ Linneman’s (1001 E. Locust St.)
Look for more about large-ensemble indie rockers Candliers new record tomorrow on F-b. They must have some seriously awesome new material if they’re confident enough to have Heidi Spencer and the Rare Birds open the show — I can’t think of a harder act to follow in the city.
Saturday, May 23
Dim Suns + Collections of Colonies of Bees + Celebrated Workingman @ Cactus Club (2496 S. Wentworth)
It’s an evening of REALLY IMPORTANT MILWAUKEE BANDS! F-b co-editor Erin Wolf hipped me to the Dim Suns (formerly Compound Red + Signaldrift); she couldn’t believe I didn’t know who they were – here’s a direct quote from the source: “Super-important Milwaukee band fated with helping start the ‘emo’ movement with Rites of Spring and the Promise Ring … they have some math-y elements.” Speaking of math-y elements, F-b faves Collections of Colonies of Bees is on the bill, along with usual suspects Celebrated Workingman.
Sunday, May 24
Miwaukee’s Most Wanted JamFest 2009 @ Miramar Theater (2844 N. Oakland Ave.)
I know you’ve been meaning to bone up on the North side rap scene – here’s your chance. If you rock Aalumni Radio, names like Ray Rizzy, Ray Nitti and Kid Vicious shouldn’t be foreign. And everybody remembers Coo Coo Cal from 2001, back when you could rep the Mil with a Ray Allen jersey. Also on the bill: Yung Legend, Jim Wes, Flawless Tae, Big Tae, Lump G, Baby Drew, Lil Gucci, Da Wizard, 26 Phat, Kid Vicious, CHMD, Chosen Few, Mack Mone and Young Tweezy
International Pop Overthrow Festival: Linneman’s (1001 E. Locust), 8 p.m. (Thursday-Saturday), 3 p.m. (Sunday)
Nope. This isn’t a four-day stint of bands covering Material Issue’s 1991 album of the same name: The International Pop Overthrow Festival is a four-day pop festival that started eleven years ago in Los Angeles, and has since crept Midwest-wards. Other IPO festivals are being held in Chicago, Boston, San Francisco, Cleveland and even Liverpool, England. Milwaukee’s version hits this weekend as Linneman’s plays host to some of Milwaukee’s finest procurers of major chords jammed into a less than five-minute time slot: Bored Games, the Pulltops, Heathrow, the Reckless Hearts, the Nice Outfit, the International Date Lines, Jetty Boys and Certain Stars are just a few of the bands that will be taking the stage.
image courtesy of Google
Friday, May 1st – Sunday, May 3rd
Okka Disc 15th Anniversary Celebration: The Sugar Maple (441 E. Lincoln), various times
The best in avant garde music and free-form jazz will be filling the cavernous space of Milwaukee’s premiere spot for craft beer, the Sugar Maple this weekend. Owner of the Sugar Maple, Bruno Johnson, prior to feeding Milwaukee’s appetite craft beer has fed Milwaukee’s growing appetite for music cerebrally akin to a Rubik’s Cube through his Okka Disc label. Okka Disc, throughout its fifteen year existence, has put forth music by Peter Brotzmann, Ken Vandermark and Joe McPhee. See these avant gard-ists and more: Jeb Bishop, Tim Daisy, the Engines, Survival Unit III and Collections of Colonies of Bees will all be playing throughout the weekend, with a special Saturday afternoon set at Johnson’s additional, more intimate establishment, The Palm Tavern (2989 S. Kinnickinnic).
image courtesy of MySpace
Friday, May 1st
E=MC Hammer + Zebras, ifIHadAHifi, All Tiny Creatures, Dear Astronaut @ The Borg Ward (823 W. National), 6:30 p.m.
Celebrate, because Madison’s Zebras and Milwaukee’s E=MC Hammer are releasing a split this Friday. Anyone with a penchant to shake off some excess energy should take to this show like a thirteen year old to a paintball gun. Zebra’s high energy riffage and shouts is Pretty Girls Makes Graves’, tougher, more cracked-out older sister and the drums and bass duo of E=MC Hammer (Peter Woods and Danny Friedman) is loud, crunchy, abrasive and carnival-esque headbanging at its finest. Also playing: ifIHadAHifi, All Tiny Creatures and Dear Astronaut.
The Indigo Girls play Pride Fest on Saturday, June 8 at 10:30 p.m. Recently, OnMilwaukee.com chatted with one half of the folk duo, Amy Ray, about homesickness, new music, songs she refuses to play on stage and Beans and Barley.
Though many people go to the festival seeking out specific headliners, what sometimes gets lost in the conversation about Summerfest is that it can be a great way to discover new music. Each year the festival books hundreds of bands that even the most avid music listener has probably never heard of, but the festival's overwhelming schedule makes it fair […]