‘goodbye’ is not a four-letter word

Image courtesy of Myspace
Words by Brian Whitney

And so it goes — Milwaukee noisemakers Catacombs of Rome quietly played what might have been their last show Saturday at the Empty Bottle and went into an indefinite stasis, a purgatory that makes them neighbors with At The Drive-In, Cave In and other bands who will probably never return despite not officially calling it off.

On a personal tip, this is kind of a serious death in the family. Two summers ago, I was minding my own business as a member of the New Brunswick, New Jersey underground music scene, when I received an email from Catacombs of Rome asking for a show. I liked them after a Myspace listen, but loved them, fully, after they came to town, and completely laid to waste the local burrito place that allowed us to put on all-ages shows.

The show in question also included Milwaukee band Jackalope, as well as my then-band The Sunshine Will and an awesome New Jersey indie rock band called Trashtalk in the Kingdom.

We became interstate friends, trading emails and mp3s of our respective bands’ newest songs. When The Sunshine Will broke up, I really had no business left in New Jersey and after a visit to friends in Milwaukee, decided it was the city I wanted to live in. And, here I am…

My personal investment, aside, Catacombs of Rome was a hell of a band at their peak. The three-song EP that they released last summer was one of their freshest pieces of music I had heard in some time.

Unfortunately, life kicked in, and extra-musical pursuits became more important. I had an English professor that once went on a lengthy, off-topic, overly-personal ramble about the best way to break up with a long-term partner, and he spoke about the idea of a gradual emotional disinvestment.

The basic idea being, that a slow, gradual loss of interest makes the eventual breakup more like a relief, than a traumatic event. This seemed to be the way Catacombs went, and in a sense, they disappeared a long time before it was declared.

These things happen all the time, and yet it still is quite sad to me. Catacombs of Rome was the last band still together from the New Jersey show I mentioned, earlier, and I look back on that time as a high water mark in my New Brunswick show experience. However, this death is not as final as it seems the band members will continue to contribute to the Milwaukee music scene (Pigs on Ice) and will continue to be a great group of individuals who I’m happy to admit are the reason I live here, now.

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