Review: Ifihadahifi + Andalusians + White Wrench Conservatory @ Cactus Club (2/18)

Photo and words by Brian Whitney

Weeknights at the Cactus Club aren’t quite as wild as their weekend counterparts, they are nonetheless quite enjoyable. Wednesday’s show boasted two mainstays of the Bay View alternative scene in White Wrench Conservatory and Ifihadahifi. They served as bookends for The Andalusians, whose stopover here was part of their current three-week tour from Washington, D.C.

White Wrench Conservatory led off the night with what was probably the best set of theirs I’ve ever seen. The band has expanded to a four piece, with bass guitar added to their existing organ/guitar/drums troika. They’ve tinkered with their older songs to match their new approach, and it definitely appears to be working. The new sound is almost reminiscent of the punk-meets-goth-meets-ragtime of former Sub Pop artists Pleasure Forever, albeit with the dulcet tones of singer/organist Dixie Jacobs’ voice casting them in a different light altogether. WWC seems to be moving their sound in an exciting direction, and it’ll be interesting to see what new songs come out of this configuration.

The Andalusians have a pedigree (former members of DC faves Beauty Pill) as well as a home on one of punk’s most revered labels, Dischord Records. The band didn’t come across as particularly good or bad, but rather extremely average, which was something of a disappointment. The songs didn’t seem particularly varied in tempo or arrangement, and their set chugged along like one of those long escalator-like belts at the airport.

Ifihadahifi closed out the show with their own brand of shout-along punk. For those not familiar with Hifi’s sound, the closest parallel sort of a distorted cousin of Les Savy Fav. Before the show the band loaded their sampler with funny non-sequiturs from Barack Obama’s audio book reading of “Flags of our Fathers”. There’s nothing like hearing your current president wax philosophic on “fucking eskimos” in between noisy punk jams to liven up your Wednesday. Speaking of Wednesday, I’d assume that’s the reason this show was under-attended. For whatever reason, Hifi seems to be the type of band that’s received better outside of Milwaukee than in town, and there’s something weirdly respectable about that.


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