Archive for December, 2008

Pigs on Ice Tour Diary: Day 3

December 31, 2008

Day started off with promise – a trip to an elusive Sonic restaurant.

A Frito chili cheese wrap is more delicious than believed. A van of full of happy campers blasting Devo heads north, where we encounter the following scene: a large dead dog, possibly a Mastiff, laying prostrate in the middle of the highway, followed 100 yards later by a crying woman in an SUV. Those in the front of the van put together the tragedy that has occurred and grow somber. The back misses the entire event and continues their good spirits. Awkwardness ensues. The Devo comes out and Coltrane goes in; it seems inappropriate to listen to bouncy punk after what we just saw.

Last night’s show was bad (forced to play first, watched by four people, two of whom left mid-set) but it could always be worse.
-Brian Whitney


Top Five of 2008: DJ Hostettler’s memorable moments

December 31, 2008

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

Pigs on Ice Tour Diary: Day two

December 31, 2008

Brian Whitney and Pigs on Ice check in from the Cheapside in Lexington, Kentucky.

Tonight’s showspace is in what you could affectionately call ‘the bad part of town.’ I hope we still have gear and a van in the morning. Last night’s show was supposed to be in Carbondale, Illinois, but the venue was flooded, so the show was off. Instead we drove to Cincinnati and found a Cici’s pizza (for those not in the know, its an all-you-can-eat pizza buffet for $5 bucks) and a hotel with an indoor pool. Nothing like drowning your missed show sorrows in a hot pool with a belly full of cheap pizza. Got to stop at Shake It Records in Cincinnati, easily the best record store in the Midwest. Somehow I only spent $74 dollars.

Stuff we’re spinning in the car: Wu Tang Clan, The W; Brian Eno, Before and After Science; a tribute to the Monkees I found in a dollar bin; This Heat, Deceit.
-Brian Whitney

Don’t You Forget About Me: 20 Local CDs of 2008

December 30, 2008

Image of The Rusty Ps courtesy of MySpace

2008 in Milwaukee: looking back, it’s more reflexive to fall back on the memories of Summerfest, the basement shows, the street festivals, the tours, DJs and dance parties. When it comes to local music, there’s one thing often overlooked, and it’s the one thing that often takes the most work — the recorded sound. Maybe it’s based off of the immediacy of seeing a live band across the street or down the block, or maybe because not every band has the time or funds to record, but one thing is certain: it’s a good thing to feed the local music economy. Consider throwing down a bit of time and money on quality sounds with a local stamp. While this short list of twenty definitely doesn’t cover all the Milwaukee releases for 2008, these releases were some of the most talked/written about, and some that will continue to garner appreciation well into 2009. 

(in no particular order)

1. canyonsofstatic: The Disappearance

2. Beach Patrol: Riding Dinosaurs

3. Juniper Tar: To the Trees

4. IfIhadAHifi: Fame by Proxy

5. Pezzettino: Because I Have No Control

6. Lights Out Asia: Eyes Like Brontide

7. Cougar Den: keepondrifter

8. Rusty Ps: The Shape of Things to Come

9. The Celebrated Workingman: Herald the Dickens

10. Year of the Scavenger: self-titled

11. Burbank Cartel: Without Translation

12. John the Savage: Kitchen Voodoo

13. Into Arcadia: Maps for Children EP

14. The Scarring Party: Come Away From the Light 

15. Collections of Colonies of Bees: Birds

16. Somebody Talked: self-titled

17. The Trusty Knife: self-titled

18. The Championship: Midnight Golden

19. Quinn Scharber and the…: Being Nice Won’t Save Milwaukee

20. Elusive Parallelograms: And Everything Changes

Add to the ’08 list by writing your favorites in our comments section…

Tour Diary: Pigs on Ice

December 29, 2008

Fan-Belt contributor Brian Whitney is on tour with his band Pigs on Ice. He’ll be checking in from the road occasionally whenever he can get a Wi-Fi connection.

Day 1 – Bloomington, Ill. (editors note: this is the second Bloomington reference of the week on this blog.)

And so begins the pigs on ice winter 08 tour. right now i’m surrounded by the sleeping forms of about ten people, most of them participants in last night’s endeavors. besides myself, our staff consists of:
Isaac-light show
As well as our friend Beau who performs drony loops under the name Anvil Dome as an intro to our set. Last night went alright; we got here late after bad MapQuest directions gave us a full tour of the greater Hales Corners area (if you plan to visit, there’s a delicious A&W restaurant.) I drank a bottle of red wine before we played, which I’m told is great for my heart. Not so much for guitar skill though. We had to cut a song for time, possibly because I offended some by complaining about them “doing the standing still.” Oh well. Tomorrow night is Carbondale. The original show we booked was canceled due to a flooded basement; we hope to jump on something last minute.

Until Then,
Brian Whitney

p.s. Thanks to all who came to our kickoff show at the Ynot III. It was a memorable one for many reasons, most of them good.