Review: Realicide @ the Borg Ward, 10.7.09

Photo of Realicide in Providence courtesy MySpace

Photo of Realicide in Providence courtesy MySpace

Words by Jeb Ebben

Noise is not the rare happening at the Borg Ward–rather, the Borg is the city’s go-to venue for the weirdest, harshest, most-likely-to-be-described-as-something-you’re-just-not-into shows. Well, that is, if you went to any of them. This isn’t meant as an accusation or calling out; it’s simply the truth. The noise scene in Milwaukee, while growing gradually, consists of only a handful of performers, all of whom are pretty likely to be dismissed out of hand as making unlistenable, improvised, talentless, only-for-the-shock-value “music” in scare quotes (never mind that by and large these folks are crafting some incredibly thoughtful, high-concept, envelope-pushing compositions that have a lot more to say than the “I’m angry and thus want to make your ears bleed” write-off). And while the average show-goer can maybe be forgiven for his or her ignorance about noise, it is far less justifiable when the local weeklies do the same, giving the cold shoulder wholesale to an immensely important subset of the Milwaukee underground.

Wednesday night was different. Not only did the show get a decent write-up, there were a good twenty-some attendees (not including the bands), which is on average four times what you’ll often see at noise shows (sometimes including the bands). The big draw was definitely Realicide–hyperenergetic, crazily danceable gabber punk straight outta slimy Cincinnati–but the bill was incredibly diverse, with Cannabinol Synapse’s weird, meditative oscillating synth and homemade theremin (looked like one of those dome-shaped pantyhose containers), the way-harsh Disthroned Agony (on the last night of his accidental two-night stand in Milwaukee–don’t worry, we used protection at least one of the times) and Stagediver, who did this cut-up collage stuff that was either meant to be some kind of semi-ironic post-modern recontextualization of dance music or else, well, I’m not sure what exactly, but he played for far, far too long.

One pleasant surprise of the evening was Milwaukee’s Anvil Dome, who was nothing short of mind-blowing. Anvil Dome is Beau Devereaux (one half of the bass-and-drums sludge duo Inyan Kara) and his slowly pulsating keyboard drone (run through an impressive array of pedals, of course) with ambient, ghostly vocals giving way to jarring, staticky bursts of harsh noise, like if the incidental music from Twin Peaks got all strung out on dope and started blowing the dudes from Whitehouse (only without the gross politics of the latter, and, well, probably much prettier than that sounds). It was vast-sounding and beautiful, a definite high point of the evening.

But anyway. Back to Realicide.

Here’s the thing about Realicide: they are punk as fuck. Sloganeering, sneering, a little naive but beautiful and bratty and full of spunk. They were down a member tonight, with co-frontman/noisemaker Jim Swill touring the west coast with his other project Evolve. And while Swill’s absence was felt, other-frontman/noisemaker Robert Inhuman’s charm, stage presence and energy was endless and totally compelling. Looking a bit like a young Henry Rollins–only at once more menacingly intense and infectiously joyful (huh?)–Inhuman offered one of the most wonderfully verbose set introductions I’ve ever heard, proving himself as the most gracious and friendly and genuinely-excited-about-what-he’s-doing performers I’ve ever seen. He then launched into fifteen minutes of energetic, fist-pumpingly hardcore glitchy dance music that was far more punk-fucking-rock than anything going on in the basement scene. Inhuman and Realicide embrace that dichotomy apparent in hardcore, that contradictory fusing of nihilism and hope, embodying the DIY-or-die spirit, carrying a torch that even the most dedicated punks seem to have set aside.

Milwaukee’s xALLxFORxTHISx, the world’s first and certainly only straight edge power electronics group, carried a punk rock torch of their own, this one far more violent and unforgiving, much more interested in nihilism than hope. “This is an exaggeration of how I really feel,” vocalist Peter J. Woods tells us before they start. “I know it’s an exaggeration, but this is straight edge. It’s about being true to yourself.” Woods grimaced and screeched out the most uncomfortable, hateful lyrics over Jay Linski’s (Blessed Sacrifist) manning of the electronics–adjusting pedals and samples and punching a piece of sheet metal with a contact mic glued to the back–unleashing a hellish, abrasive convulsion of sound.  The duo’s performance was incredibly intense, and left one wondering whether it was satire or not–whether Woods has ever really felt like curb stomping junkies. Kind of left a bad taste in the mouth, though I’m not going to say that that’s entirely a bad thing–kind of like how sometimes you need to be punched in the face.

In all, though, the show left me feeling excited, about the way punk rock lives on in unlikely places, and how the most misunderstood and universally hated music scene seems to be attracting new people and turning them on; that spaces like the Borg Ward exist, and offer a venue for these kinds of events; that people like Woods and Linski are around to facilitate.


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31 Responses to “Review: Realicide @ the Borg Ward, 10.7.09”

  1. cat dirt Says:

    This is a well written, interesting review.

  2. Jeb Ebben Says:

    Cat, thanks very much!

  3. Show attender Says:

    Two points to Jeb Ebben.

    First, I attended the show to see Stagediver because he was touring with Realicide. I, as well as the 5 others I was with, would *never* have gone to see these artistic cop-out noise bands that you seem to know personally. Perhaps there was a reason why so many came out that night that you didn’t want to accept?

    Second, if there was too much of anything it was noise *not* the Stagediver set (evidenced by the number of people there letting themselves go/slam dancing during his set). Two of the noise “acts” weren’t even listed on the show flier and while Anvil Dome was good the draw was certainly the Realicide/Stagediver combo.

    I’m simply defending someone who clearly got the shaft due to the usual Milwaukee scene-blog politics.

  4. red sweater attendee Says:

    the simultaneous love for a hated scene and flippant dismissal of an unfamiliar genre leave me a bit perplexed after reading this review.

    perhaps we should wait for Part Two, Jeb, where we get to read about the infectious energy of stagediver’s show – new people. turned on. sweaty. excited. alive. READY.

    did you stay long enough to even see it?

    because if you did, and you are still unsure as to “what exactly” was going on, stagediver would have been happy to take the time to show you his way. all a commentator has to do is ask.

    it’s a lot easier that coming up empty after a google search.

    also, recontextualization is not a word.

  5. Bradkey Says:

    I’m not much of a noise fellow, so I can’t really comment on most of this write-up. I went to the show to see Realicide and Stagediver.

    Realicide, as you mentioned, killed. Bob did a great job with his solo set, and I was right out front enjoying the shit out of it, so I can understand why you’d go into such depth describing it. It’s fast, aggressive, abrasive, electronic and superb.

    What I don’t get, in light of your loving Realicide-centric paragraph, is your swiftly dismissive sentence about Stagediver. He had more in common stylistically with Realicide than anyone else who played. It was aggressive, abrasive, fast and mostly energetic.

    The set was unevenly paced, yes. I think I was the only one who managed to dance intensely the entire time (most everyone else seemed a little tired after awhile). However: I was most definitely not the only one dancing. In fact, most everyone there seemed to get a kick out of it.

    In fact, because of the crowd’s reaction alone to the set, the only reason I can imagine for your dismissive comment is some sort of personal bias. If you didn’t like the music yourself, that’s fine; to leave out the fact that most people there seemed to dig it (including some of the performers you seem to at least respect musically, given your write-up) reeks of some sort of grudge.

  6. Cily Says:

    I feel that Stagediver was unfairly brushed aside in this review. I was mainly there for him and Realicide, both of whom I thoroughly enjoyed hearing. And, from the looks of the crowd’s enthusiasm, they did too.

  7. Robert Says:

    [hey Milwaukee, I saw this yesterday and tried to post a response. It didn’t go online, but you all basically said what I wanted to say anyway! Aside calling me “Bob” (com’on now! haha wtf) right on. This was my admitantly reactionary statement that didn’t go online for some reason…]

    Fucking do your homework before you pin me with a word like “nihilist”. You can tag cliched words onto people all you want, but look at what’s being said at that show and know that nihilism is not part of the mindset. And reconsider overlooking Stagediver, cos what he is doing isn’t a joke at all – I mean what would our music sound like without the words after all? Consider his merits or you’ll be very disappointed when he starts touring as backbone element of Realicide not long from now. Positive and respectful anarchism has nothing to do with a fuck-all nihilistic attitude; these things are almost night and day. Stagediver conquers Milwaukee electronics, though I appreciate much of what I’ve seem from there. Moving beyond noise for the good of everybody at this point. ~ Robert /

    […that’s the post. Anyway, I love the Borg Ward and am thankful to the people running it! More gender-balance couldn’t hurt but meanwhile all I’m saying is EMBRACE TRUE MILWAUKEE SPEEDCORE it’s a great thing most cities can’t claim to have locally!]

  8. To The Victor Belong The Spoils… | Radio Graffiti Says:

    […] […]

  9. Stagediver Says:

    A full and official response has been posted at

    …and BOB??! wtflol

    Looks like Stagediver has a posse! Thanks guys!

  10. Peter J Woods Says:

    Alright, I didn’t want to comment on this, but after the official response, I feel I need to stick up for Jeb here.

    So- Jeb gave a bad review of the Stagediver set. That’ll happen. Certain people like certain types of music. Dude likes noise more. That’ll happen. You disagree with his review. This will also happen, as people have opinions.

    But where are these “scene-blog politics” claims coming from? Yeah, the guy liked the noise stuff more than the one set by the one electro dude he saw, but how in anyway does political agendas and having friends get involved in this? If you noticed, he wrote one sentence reviews of half of the noise acts as well. I’m assuming this was done in an attempt to keep the article on the shorter side.

    I would be with you if this was a common occurrence, if he was pushing something more popular than the noise scene, or if it was someone other than the guy allowed Stagediver to play in the venue he helps to run. But all of these things aren’t true and thats just how it goes. If he liked the band, he would have written something positive. But he didn’t. Deal.

    He does not need to say anything about how the audience enjoyed the set- this is his review. His opinion and his alone. Its also not a review of how the audience reacted. He also doesn’t need to write about the “draw” for the night for the same reason.

    The responses here reek of people complaining about their favorite music not being cool or popular or whatever. This is all I hear whenever I read anyone complaining about “scene politics.” If you don’t like it, fix it. Start your own scene and recruit your own people. Don’t just complain about how one guy on a blog didn’t like your band.

    Robert- I get what Jeb is saying about your set, but I agree that Nihilist was poor word choice. I think he was trying to convey your “everything is fucked” attitude and not what nihilist entails.

    That’s my two cents. Personally I thought a lot of what stagediver was doing was very cool, but I agree that it went way too long. Cut the set down by a third and I would have been there the whole way. 45 minutes of electro stuff is just not what I want to listen to. That being said, dude was EXTREMELY courteous and I was very happy he finally got to play here after a few strange that happened in the past. Welcome back anytime along with any of his contemporaries (someone should set up a Demix/Stagediver show pronto. Could be awesome).

    And yes, I was in one of the bands, and yes, I’m a “hot shot” in the local noise scene. Feel free to use those as excuses to dismiss my opinion as well.

    All hate mail can be directed to All of my shows are done under the FTAM banner, so if you want to boycott my stuff, thats the way to do it.

    Thats all I got,
    Peter Woods

  11. brian Says:

    if bobby inhuman’s feelings are hurt, he clearly isn’t living up to his surname.

  12. Mono Says:

    Opinions are subjective folks. Lets move on. Everyone seems to bring valid points, but may I remind you it’s all subjective. I mean I don’t enjoy this guy’s music (Dear Astronaut). That’s personal taste though. Especially since I’m not all into rock related music. It gets on my nerves in it’s purist of forms.

    Lets get down to the real problem though, aha.

    “In all, though, the show left me feeling excited, about the way punk rock lives on in unlikely places”

    Punk music? Will people stop labeling everything in relation to punk? Let it die already. Jesus. The Pistols killed it ages ago. Move on.

    We don’t live in the mid 70s/early 80s anymore.

    This is electronic music. Not rock music. Which is where punk music stems from, obviously.

    Give me a break, plox.

  13. MC Says:

    Wow. All this over one guy’s opinion on a blog. It is an OPINION, subjective thought. Write your own review and stop attacking Ebben. These people should be glad someone is even writing about them! At this stage in their “careers,” a mention should be enough. Get over yourselves.

  14. Robert Says:

    why would my feelings be hurt? that show was great and this is just people bored typing on the internet? you’ve gotta be kidding; I mean if you had a clue why I’ve got the name I’ve got you’d see it has nothing to do with being cold by any means! haha, again com’on – what is it about the internet…

    Peter’s right on when he says “well do something about it” — this Jeb dude has the right to say what he thought, I mean that IS a very important right these days! and we have the right to jump on here and contradict him if we want. But ultimately if anybody feels strongly enough about misleading or negative press (though I didn’t even feel this review was anything super negative anyway, I mean people have their basic opinions after all, I just get frustrated by certain words and when value in certain music is brushed aside) – if anybody feels that strongly it is their job to write their own press about the experience.

    You know I am one to disagree and argue quite regularly, but the important thing to keep in mind during any disagreeement especially of opinions is that more good will come of people stepping up independently to say what they DO like, instead of expending all energy on reactionary fighting. I’m guilty of this habit as much as anybody – I mean I read the review and disagreed at many points…

    but wether I am down with his statements or not, the dude DID focus on what he liked about the show and not what he disliked. That in and of itself is positive, and I would be happy to read OTHER peoples’ reviews of what they liked and not dwell on clashes of taste.

    so, this is going on too long and I only type with 1 finger – I love Milwaukee and that Bord spot is great so I’ll see you around!

    Robert /

  15. Robert Says:

    sorry I didn’t mean to typo “BORG” ward – seriously everybody on the internet, if you ever see me write something very long keep in mind it is with 1 finger, so cut me a break haha

  16. Jeb Ebben Says:

    I don’t really understand all this scene politician stuff, but I think Peter handled that well enough, so I’ll just let it drop. I was dismissive of Stagediver’s set, I will admit that. I thought it more important to write about the stuff that excited me, and that means that sometimes bands get the brush-off. You’ll notice that Canibonal Synapse and Disthroned Agony got the same treatment. It’s nothing personal. I just feel like it’s a waste of my time to spend words on stuff I didn’t dig. If that means I have an agenda, then, well, I don’t know. What would have happened had I actually written a paragraph on just why I didn’t like Stagediver, then what? It’d be okay, ’cause I wasn’t dismissive, or it’d be worse, because I spat bile? I don’t owe anyone some blow-by-blow of the show; that’s not what I’m here to do. I’m going to write about the shit that I think is awesome and needs to be written about–not out of some sense of scene politics, or friendship, or whatever–but because it makes me excited, it fills me with joy. I thought Stagediver’s set was like a disjointed survey course in underground dance music. It had no anchor, which meant it meandered quite a bit from point to point and it utterly failed to interest me. There were some bits that I found compelling, but they always gave way to other parts that felt out of place, like they were just tacked on for the sake of something different. The fact that Stagediver played for upwards of forty-five minutes did not help matters either.

  17. Robert Says:

    Jeb you’re right man, it’s not your job to like everything, and as I mentioned above I think it’s a wise choice to focus on positive things.

    My main complaints are just my basic “buttons being pushed” because I don’t feel affiliated with nihilism at all, etc. etc. I probably already stated my case above somewhere.

    I did yeah feel it was unfortunate that Stagediver was brushed off, but it’s cos I really identify and have a longtime passion for harsh punk-inspired electronic hardcore. My hope through touring a lot and playing just about anywhere that will have Realicide (and any friends who join me!) is to show people that electronic music can be on the same level as HxC punk and it’s not just lucrative or sleazy raver shit.

    I feel like SD has been progressing imensely at his craft and really stepping up to some intense shit. It’s true his songs are longer than the ones my band makes generally, but to me it’s the same as like Dystopia versus Drop Dead – they are both coming from HxC but they’re doing it in really different ways – short songs, fast songs, more musicality, or less – these variations among artists are awesome; keeps us from being clones!

    but it comes back to the fact that you are not obligated to dig everything you hear or see. My job as somebody who has a different perspective on it is to be vocal through my own blogs or sites or RL conversations, and say what I like and why – I know it will be better for everybody than if I focused on fighting with people. So I hope this seems reasonable to everybody here?

    …noise and speedcore CAN work together! mix it up once in a while! fucking get some of that milwaukee grindcore up in there too; straight up wet dream show I’m talkin about

  18. Jeb Ebben Says:

    But goddammit, this isn’t what I want to do. Like I said, I’m trying to write about that which excites me, not that which I didn’t care for.

    What I’m most interested in here is responding to Robert, because I don’t like to think that I’m misrepresenting something that I am actually quite into.

    By “that dichotomy apparent in hardcore, that contradictory fusing of nihilism and hope,” I did not mean to say that Realicide is a nihilistic band–quite the contrary, I think it’s the hope that Realicide is focusing on, and that is part of what makes this music special. What I meant was that hardcore punk has this destructive, fuck-it-all sound, but is often held together with lyrics and ideas that are positive, hopeful, uplifting–and to me, that’s what Realicide is doing. To me, above all things, Realicide is a hardcore band. And what Realicide is doing makes me feel like hardcore is still important, and not something to be cynical about, which is the easy response.

  19. Jeb Ebben Says:

    Crossposted! I hope I addressed your other concerns here!

    I agree with you on a lot of points. I especially agree that there needs to be more gender equity at both noise and hc shows!

  20. Robert Says:

    thanks man, and when this all settles I hope everybody, yes even somehow everybody on the internet (yuuuck!), can see it’s at least really cool to be able to talk back and forth like this without slipping into hard-headedness and needless beefing. everybody’s got strong opinions here, but being rigid about em is not gonna give way to much social development or learning about eachother genuinely. That might sound lame, but it’s how I feel about most instances of disagreements…

  21. Stagediver Says:

    Woah. Internet battle ensues.

    I’m with both sides on this. Everyone obviously has the basic right to write and report on what interests them. I haven’t seen this many comments for as long as I’ve been reading this blog so it’s nice to see that people feel something regardless of what side they are on.

    I understand probably more than anyone that no one *has* to like my tunes or my set lengths. Hell, I usually write new material for each and every show I play because I’m not a fan of my own material half the time. What I don’t understand however is the negative undertones toward the SD set when Jeb clearly stated he didn’t get it. Would you want to go see a SD set after reading that? Probably not. I certainly wouldn’t. As stated though…it’s his choice and I certainly respect that. It’s not for everyone but a simple “meh” would have sufficed.


    This is where Peter’s comment comes in however:

    “If you don’t like it, fix it. Start your own scene and recruit your own people. Don’t just complain about how one guy on a blog didn’t like your band.”

    We’re trying. Hard. It just proves to be a little difficult when flip reviews like this are brought to our attention as it does no one any good (largely a waste of time arguing principles), but I suppose people *are* talking so this is a good thing right? It should be noted that it’s not about whether or not someone liked the tunes, I’m not even sure it’s about me or my tunes even…it’s about stating our case, being fair to the fans who attended, building a “scene” (which did exist 10+ years ago) and knowing that the 414 deserves an alternative from the alternative.

    The fans are passionate!

    Having said all of this I really want to state that I had a blast, I loved the building, Peter and the like were very hospitable and that I’m looking forward to the set with Juiceboxxx in January.

  22. Robert Says:

    hell yeah I am supposed to finish the JXXX remix very soon – I bet the cassingle of it would be out by then. What a strange tape it is bound to be…

    the B side of DISPYS is awesome.

    I can’t get claim to never say shit about music I’m not into – a few years ago I definitely remember having a song about not liking Wolf Eyes. I am pretty sure it started with the words “I don’t like Wolf Eyes” — pretty straight forward. I stand by it, but am also prepared that other people might not like what I’m doing.

    fuck… Ty sometime I’ll get the nerve to dig up some of the less glamorous things people have said about me and my band, espeeeecially in my hometown when we were first starting. I mean at least nobody got on here and told you “you should kill yourself” or started a campaign to tell people “don’t go to his shows” — I’ve gone through a lot of shit doing this kind of music. Looking back I can say “yeah? well jokes on you all cos I’ve endured and am stronger for it!” but back then, and even still at times now, negative criticism shakes confidence or can be a buzzkill.

    But realistically I don’t think that’s what this review intended for – dude doesn’t seem to be out to tell anybody “fuck you don’t play speedcore” – I know the difference between a mild distaste and a vicious and very malicious public attack on somebody’s work. Just to reiterate, at least nobody got on here and said “you should kill yourself” (but this is the internet so now that I’ve jinxed it I can only assume what will be the next comment, haha)

    somebody, besides Ty even, should start a blog or something for Milwaukee electronic hardcore music, if there’s any chance of it and building a spot online to share news and ideas… that could be overly optimistic though, as I know damn well it can be like squeezing water from a stone when yr stoked on a less than popular sort of music. speedcore is one of those true misfit genres in most places, cos it’s too fucked up for techno kids, not chaotic enough for noise kids, and the punk rockers and afraid of it if you are not drunk and playing guitar like Screeching Weasel or something…

    the MISFITS should switch to speedcore and live up to their fucking name, right?!

  23. Jeb Ebben Says:

    “somebody, besides Ty even, should start a blog or something for Milwaukee electronic hardcore music, if there’s any chance of it and building a spot online to share news and ideas…”

    I think this is a great idea, and while I don’t speak for Fan-Belt, I’m sure we wouldn’t mind having someone around to write about these kinds of shows and bands.

  24. Brett Says:

    I didn’t attend this show, but i did hear about it at another show a couple days later in Chicago, and as a result I was a little puzzled by this review. But with that said, and without harboring any overly-idealistic illusions, I’m simply glad to see this series of comments turn into some semblance of a constructive debate. This same thread on your run of the mill forum might’ve quickly devolved into a dismissive, abusive, and totally anonymous flame war, so it’s encouraging to see that most of the people in this conversation (on both “sides” as it were) didn’t simply go into “defense” mode. Hopefully those who did (and everyone else for that matter) will actually seek out the music discussed to get a second, third, fourth, etc, taste, and to flesh out their opinions rather than letting them remain static after this show review wraps. Thanks for your work…

  25. Yale Says:

    Wow you people really come off like a bunch of 7 year old girls who just burned there cookies. Its pretty sad really, you guys are lucky anyone cares enough to review your show, what other publication is covering noise shows in town? oh wait, no other one is…

    Jeb considering the shit-storm your offically a writer on the internet now.

  26. Stagediver Says:


  27. Michelle Says:


  28. Jeb Ebben Says:


  29. jake 'the schmuck of a mamzer shegetz' barge Says:

    this is like a hipster page six. Milwaukee needs this. we can all save this city. ol dirty bastard once claimed ‘ i shut the fucking whole world down, ‘ and milwaukee needs to unite under one sinlge flag that unties us all as a family, and i think waht jeb is saying is that at th

  30. Robert Says:

    my opinion is that this show was a lot of fun.

    also though, I think what jeb said about “punk” is really important, and it should be noted that there has always been substantial difference than “punk rock” and the punk ethic, which is not limited to any single aesthetic or genre. this is exactly what makes punk something that maintains relevence, while it is true aesthetics and styles die out quickly.

    I don’t wanna comment anymore, but this is a very important thing to me, worth mentioning for whatever it may be worth. but mainly I am just saying my opinion is that I had fun at the borg ward and I plan to do it again.

  31. Anthony Schwader Says:

    Jeb, this write up is great. And if you step on some toes thinking and writing what you truly think, so be it. It’s nothing personal folks.

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