Archive for June, 2008

?uestlove 4th of July DJ Set @ Stonefly!

June 30, 2008

In case you’ve been Rip Van Winkled these last few weeks, The Roots are playing the Miller Lite Oasis at Summerfest this Friday, July 4. But even bigger is the news that, afterward, drummer Amhir “?uestlove” Thompson will be doing a DJ set at Stonefly (735 E. Center St. / Milwaukee).

Uh, what? For real? YES, for real.

For the uninitiated, this is a pretty special event. Kind of like when Kraftwerk chose Milwaukee as one of only four cities it was performing in this past year. Only for Hip-hop. Thomspon’s rubbed musical elbows with everyone from J Dilla and Jay-Z (the recorded an entire “Unplugged” album together), to John Paul Jones (watch this) and Al Green (he produced Green’s latest album— one of the best Green’s recorded in years). He also has a tendency to share tales online of both his unique international crate digging finds, and MP3s of projects that either haven’t yet happened, or never will. (*cough* D’Angelo’s third album *cough*).

Tickets are $15, while they last. Element Everest and Sose will be your hosts for the evening, and the ubiquitous Kid Cut Up opens up on the turntables. The show starts at 10 p.m., so if you’re smart, you’ll get there as soon as humanly possible.


Mancini – who?

June 26, 2008

Since Henry Mancini introduced the 1961 hit “Baby Elephant Walk” the association of elephants and music has never been quite the same..nor has The Simpsons. Fortunately, these majestic, slightly plodding creatures will have a new association, other than that wacky, but melodic organ escapade filed with sharps and flats. Elephants might be considered to be more exuberant, hyperactive, oops, mom-i-just-ate-two-pounds-of-granulated-sugar-washed-down-with-a-six-pack-of-Sparks
kind of animals after one sees the band of their namesake: The Elephant Walk.

Milwaukee’s The Elephant Walk has a knack for catchy, energized melodies reminiscent of all that’s good about beach-blanket music from the 60s. Chris Capelle (drums) and Kyle Denton (guitar/vox) fill out the bands’ sound on a full-time basis, while Adam Klarner (also a full-timer), vocalist and tambourinest extraordinaire, fills us in on the magic that is The Elephant Walk.

Fan-belt Erin: How did the band get its start? Have you all played in bands prior to this one?

Adam: The band began coming together last September, while my old one, Tuff Bananas, was stopping ’cause I was planning on moving to Cambodia to teach English and travel. Kyle had planned to come over to keep me company for a while, and we talked about going from city to city playing covers and a few originals at bars and parties to meet people and score free drinks and have a good time. After I ended up getting pick-pocketed for all my money and forced to come back to the U.S., we decided to give it a shot here with the handful of songs I had. Lucky for us, our pal Chris wanted to play drums for it, so there ya go!

As far as previous bands, Chris was/is in Tough Goons, The Remotes, Stephen Chioda (various incarnations), Jeff Caissie & the Cheating Hearts, Ichiban Party2, Midwest Beat (current), Gut Reactions (current), Beach Patrol (current). Kyle was/is in Denton Brothers, Rockopus (current), the Jack Moves (current). I was in Tough Goons, Skag Barons and Tuff Bananas.

Fan-belt Erin: Describe your sound in a handful of words:

Adam: “Hey, you guys should really get a bass player. I’ll be your bass player.” That’s what everyone else says, anyway…

Fan-belt Erin: Who’ve you played with?

Adam: Midwest Beat, Eric & the Happy Thoughts, Dinosaur Pills, Thomas Function, We March, The Mans…and more! Not bad for only a handful of shows.

Fan-belt Erin: Your debut 7″ is out this summer on Dusty Medical Records — how’d you get hooked up with them? Also, what color vinyl (this is really important)?

Adam: Kevin (a.k.a. Dusty Medical) put out the Tuff Bananas “Candy” record and knew Kyle through doing Kyle’s sound-guy duties at Frank’s Power Plant. He just liked what he heard, I suppose! The vinyl itself is black. Classic, elegant.

Fan-belt Erin: Have you ever covered ‘Baby Elephant Walk’ by Henry Mancini?

Adam: Actually, I didn’t realize that song was called ‘Baby Elephant Walk’ until Kyle did a search on Youtube one day. We’re named after an old soul song called ‘Elephant Walk’ by Donald Jenkins and the Delighters. Besides the Mancini thing, we later found out that “elephant walk” is the name of two separate forms of hazing, one done by fraternities, and one done by Navy sailors when they cross the Equator for the first time, but we won’t ruin those surprises for the new recruits. There’s a band from California called The Elephant Walkers, who named their band after those big At-Ats in Empire Strikes Back. So, I suppose…wait. What was the question? Oh. “No.”

Fan-belt Erin: What’s going on at the show this Saturday at Frank’s Power Plant? Any insider info?

Adam: The Okmoniks (from Tucson, AZ) are a rockin’-n-rollin’ dance party band with organ and a female singer setting the sound. I saw them last September for the first time without knowing anything about them beforehand, and they blew my mind. Their new record on Slovenly is my top album of ’08!

Nobunny (from Oakland, CA) is a man/bunny of utmost bubblegum brilliance. How can I begin to describe it? You just have to see it to believe it. He also has a new record (“Love Visions”) that is pitch-perfect for summertime partying.

Two extra-special-last-minute-additions: Eric & the Happy Thoughts and the Romance Novels (both from Lafayette, IN)! The Happy Thoughs are the closest thing to Buddy Holly that you’re gonna get these days, and are tremendous live. Literally, my favorite band in the world right now. The Romance Novels was Eric’s previous band who are playing their first show in a year! Plus, the Get Drunk DJ’s will be spinning the hits in between and after the bands. It reads like a ton of hyperbole, but this is truly a collection of some of my favorite bands out there, so I’m looking forward to it 100%. As an “insider”, I would highly recommend wearing your fave pair of dancing shoes, having a ton of fun, getting loose, and grabbing a slice of pizza from Classic Slice beforehand for fuel. If that’s not your thing, the Bo Deans and Dashboard Confessional are playing at Summerfest…

The Elephant Walk plays this Saturday at Frank’s Power Plant at 2800 South Kinnickinnic Avenue with The Okmoniks, Nobunny, The Romance Novels and Eric & The Happy Thoughts. Show starts at 10 p.m.

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Here Should Be My Home. (or, It’s Easy To Forget The Winter With A Summer Like This.)

June 25, 2008

By Brian Whitney

Although it’s certainly taking its time getting here, this is, technically, summer, and one of the many features of a Milwaukee summer is the near constant stream of outdoor festivals. It seems like every weekend there’s a street or ethnicity being celebrated, usually by drinking in the afternoon and eating grilled food on a stick. One newcomer to the festival circuit that should be pretty popular with local music/beer aficionados is the Pabst Blue Ribbon Street Festival, which is being held at the corner of Potter and Logan Streets in Bayview on July 26th from 12 to 8 pm.

The fest is the brainchild of Christian Houtman, who is Pabst Blue Ribbon’s Milwaukee representative. “I wanted to do an event that is kind of a thank you to everyone out there who drinks PBR. Milwaukee is a big block party city and I think it will be fun to just have a day of PBR, music, and fun.” If you’re like me, and I would estimate that a good percentage of Fan-belt’s readership are in some way, the phrase “count me in” just popped into your head. The best part is, the more specifics I hear, the better this party gets.

Firstly, the music: there are some pretty impressive bands playing. The headliner is none other than the Detroit Cobras (the only non-locals playing, but this can be forgiven once you hear their infectious brand of garage rock.) Opening up are Milwaukee hip hop mainstays Rusty Ps (whose DJ, Madhatter, will be spinning throughout the day), John the Savage, Juiceboxxx, Year of the Scavenger and Freight. That’s one of the more solid show lineups I’ve seen in a while, and even without getting into the rest of the festivities there is definitely something in the lineup of bands for everyone to enjoy.

In addition to the music, there will be $2 PBR available for the duration of the festival, and Comet will be catering as well. There will be a dunk tank, a bean bag tossing contest between various PBR-sponsored bars to determine the winner of the “Pabst Cup”, and a veritable ton of Pabst-related swag being given away.

I know July 26th seems a ways off, but make sure you mark your calendars, take off of work, and do whatever you need to do to find yourself at the PBR Street Festival. Any event that wants to celebrate good local music and a great local product is alright in my book. At the very least, it’ll be an excuse to get drunk and dance about 12 hours earlier than you normally would, and for about a quarter of the cost. Nice.

Editor’s revised note: Earlier, we had no idea what the URL was. Then, someone found it. Unfortunately, I don’t know how to do that cool thing bloggers do, where they strike a line through all the text that has since been corrected. So, just enjoy the Pabst Blue Ribbon Street Party’s MySpace page.

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IfIHadAHiFi – "Success! Success! Success!"

June 24, 2008

This, my bored-at-work friends, is the first video from America’s sweethearts, IfIHadAHiFi. The song’s called “Success! Success! Success!” and can be found on their forthcoming release, Fame By Proxy (out Sept. 23rd on Latest Flame Records).

The song alone is enough to lift you out of your mid-day slump. But the video is equal parts spastic Devo-esque live performance and Betty Crocker’s worst nightmare. The young, well-dressed lady helping the boys out on vocals is Dixie Jacobs of the infamous white, wrench, conservatory! (Which, for you out-of-town or out-of-touch types, is not a conservatory at all.) And the director of this six minutes of heaven? Jay Bauman.

I know what you’re thinking: “How will I ever be able to wait until September?!?” Fret not, my little music-buying enthusiasts. We’ll have a review up soon, complete with an obligatory downloadble MP3.

Enjoy, amigos!

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A cynic’s abridged guide to Local Music at Summerfest 2008

June 23, 2008

By Chuck Engel

Summerfest is known globally as the world’s largest outdoor music festival, and known locally as the time of year when every aspect of living and working in the city of Milwaukee becomes inconvenienced by a massive influx of drunk suburbanite A-holes dressed in age-inappropriate clothing and tramp-stamped with variations of the same tribal tattoo all falling in line to “get their Summerfest on” like there’s no other outlet to drink beer, see live music, or be social in Southeastern Wisconsin the rest of the year.

The temporary overpopulation makes getting anywhere in Milwaukee from Bay View to the East Side an hour-long chore, as our city streets become infiltrated with slow-moving SUVs taking up two lanes of traffic while their drivers look to save a buck on the designated Summerfest parking lots. Not to mention the festival’s occurrence makes any other routine task in the city, whether it’s running to the drug store or getting a table at your favorite restaurant, an exercise in patience and futility.

Long story short, Summerfest is a huge pain-in-the-ass. It can be hard to see the benefit in hosting a corporately-sponsored “amateur night” in one’s backyard for those who seldom cross East of Highway 100. The whole endeavor is much like having loosely-known houseguests for two weeks who only show up when you most eagerly want to enjoy comfort of your home.

While it’s easy to get beaten down by what Summerfest actually means to Milwaukeeans who take in live music and the city nightlife on a regular basis, the festival itself has gone out of its way this year to represent the city by featuring more original local music than it has in recent years.

US Cellular has continued their sponsorship of the Emerging Artists stage near the North end of the festival grounds that will feature a large mix of local and national independent bands. Furthermore, Cascio Interstate Music has ramped up previous incarnations of the local-friendly stage they’ve sponsored in previous years. The Cascio Interstate Music “Groove Garage”, despite its corny name, has a plethora of great local music all day long near the entrance of the Marcus Amphitheater.

Too many staples of the local music scene are playing the Big Gig this year to even give justice to. Thus, if you’re going to go to Summerfest this year, here are seven quality local picks worth checking out throughout the 11-day fest.

John the Savage
9:00 PM – Cascio Groove Garage
John The Savage just played its first show in September of last year, but the complex and well-orchestrated sound this six-piece band embodies displays a dramatic use of space that most bands spend years trying to achieve. Elements of Johnny Cash, Pavement, The Pack, and Tom Waits can be extrapolated from their songs. As weird as that description may sound, it really does work well together.

Revision Text
5:30 PM – Cascio Groove Garage
Most bands start playing shows the moment they have six songs cohesive enough to not trainwreck with the first chord change, but Revision Text took a rare approach band by polishing it to the point of perfection in the studio for nearly two years before setting foot on stage. This Summerfest appearance will mark only this indie-rock quartet’s second show ever, but don’t expect it to suck.

The Scarring Party
8:00 PM – US Cellular Stage
The Scarring Party has been haunting stages and charming audiences around Milwaukee with their uniquely dark ragtime indie-pop styling for several years. Still fresh on their self-released full length, Come Away From the Light, this year’s Summerfest appearance has the band opening for The Polyphonic Spree. This is an interesting pairing, as The Polyphonic Spree’s bass player Mark Pirro can be credited for building Scarring Party frontman Daniel Bullock’s specialty microphone that is arguably the centerpiece of The Scarring Party’s aural aesthetic.

Testa Rosa
6:15 PM – Cascio Groove Garage
Testa Rosa is a tight three piece pop-rock group fronted by the melodic vocals of Betty Blexrud-Strigens. The pop arrangements, female vocals and occasional tremolo usage make it really hard not to compare Testa Rosa to Rilo-Kiley and some of Neko Case’s solo work. The band might refute such contemporary comparisons, but they’re an enjoyable show.

5 Card Studs
8:00 PM – Jo Jo’s Martini Lounge
Without argue, 5 Card Studs is one of the best live acts in the city. Their retro Vegas shtick and selection of classic soul covers is a crowd favorite wherever they show up. Even this self-admitted music cynic suggests it’s easy to forget that they’re a cover band. If you can also ignore that they’re playing on a stage sponsored by a strip-mall martini lounge next to a Qdoba in the suburbs, seeing them at Summerfest will be a damn good show.

The Glamour
5:00 PM – Harley-Davidson Roadhouse
DJ team The Glamour bring their brand of fanny-pack electro Hip-Hop dance music out of the club and down to the lakefront. Meshing late ’80s hip-hop hype with early 90’s house beats, they boast a sound formerly stuck inside a Roland TB-303 but made simple by the advent of the Macbook, and a neon-friendly look once solely envied by retards. The music is goddamn infectious and should positively stand out from other acts on the Harley stage that day.

Get Rad
8:15 PM – Cascio Groove Garage
In a 21st century world of marketed angst that operates more style than on substance, Get Rad could serve as a history textbook on how 80’s thrash and positive hardcore was done. They’re a pretty odd addition to the Summerfest lineup. Hopefully the Cascio Groove Garage doesn’t have bleachers getting in the way of the circle pit.

(It’s in one’s best interest to come to the Cascio stage early on July 3 for a virtual power lineup of Milwaukee’s best underground bands. Starting at 3:45 PM, Novel, Father Phoenix, Red Knife Lottery, Farewell to Twilight, Cougar Den, Get Rad and The Barrettes all perform in sequence on the same stage. It’s almost like being at an actual show!)

For more information on Summerfest, check out the official Summerfest Web site.

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