Show review: Freight * Possible Fathers * The Conformists @ Cactus Club (1/24)

Photo of Freight by Derek Peterson

Photo of Freight by Derek Peterson


Words by Brian Whitney

Freight and Possible Fathers are two of Milwaukee’s best bands right now, each with their own take on aggressive indie rock that has been missing from both Milwaukee’s landscape and the scene-at-large for too long. Possible Fathers opened the show, with a set mixed with songs from their Doing The Dad Thing EP (available for free download on their MySpace) and their forthcoming split cassette with Pigs On Ice. Musically, the band floats somewhere between the garage-y grunge of Mudhoney and the precise punk of Hot Snakes, with the heavily reverbed vocals of singers Willy Dintenfass and Tony Dixon occasionally peeking through. The band probably played about 20 songs in 15 minutes, barely giving the crowd a chance to process the last song before launching into the next. The only breaks came when Dintenfass and Dixon traded off guitar and bass duties. This was my first time seeing the band in a non-basement venue and, I must say … the more audible Possible Fathers’ songs are, the more I enjoy them.

Freight had the unenviable task of following the Fathers, but successfully maintained the energy of the room with their mechanical post-punk. Owing debts to such luminaries as Public Image Ltd. and The Birthday Party, the rhythm section of drummer Ryan Marszalek and bassist Jake Cohen seem almost programmed, to the point where in the 10+ times I’ve seent hem I don’t think I’ve heard either do anything out of place. This devotion to precision allows guitarist Jacob Feiring and singer Brian Rogers a certain amount of freedom in their performance, and the resulting clash of man and machine makes for an entertaining set.

The band played songs from an already recorded but unreleased album, which leads me to a complaint. Milwaukee has a glut of promising new bands; yet the music of these bands is seemingly not being released or documented in any way, and that’s a crime and a half. The only reason Seattle, Minneapolis, or any of the other local scenes that have risen to prominence in the last 25 years found the spotlight is because they had local labels (Sub Pop and Twin Tone, respectively) documenting their output and releasing it on a regular basis. Someone with organization skills and capital needs to step up before the music of these bands is lost forever; this is a challenge.

The Conformists are from St. Louis, Missouri, and their shirtless, tattooed singer looked just like the shirtless, tattooed character from the Silence of the Lambs sequel Red Dragon. It would be unfair to ask any band to follow the one-two punch of Possible Fathers and Freight, and the band tried their best and had some interesting ideas.

Ultimately, this night was about Milwaukee. We have the bands, but there are extra-musical aspects that need to come into play before this scene is truly strong.

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3 Responses to “Show review: Freight * Possible Fathers * The Conformists @ Cactus Club (1/24)”

  1. DJH Says:

    Really surprised you didn’t dig the Conformists, Brian. I think they’re fantastic, and i totally would have been at this show rocking out to them had i not had a birthday party to attend.

  2. Peter J Woods Says:

    Yeah, the conformists are phenomenal. I thought their set was easily the best of the night, despite that moron yelling “tits” in the middle of their songs. Wanted to jack that dude in the face more than anything.

    Also- no love for northless? Def. my fav of the locals as well.

  3. Preview: The Conformists and (((Microwaves))) at the Borg Ward Saturday « Fan-belt Milwaukee Says:

    […] on this site, I reviewed a Freight/Possible Fathers/Conformists show at Cactus Club, wherein I confessed to not having watched The Conformists after being blown away by […]

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