McTavish, part deux. I know, that's French, not Irish. Whatever.

You can the same band two nights in a row, in the same town, but put 'em in two different venues and you're going to get two different flavors. First, a little backstory: this actually was the third time they played this weekend. They did Friday night on the south side, then crashed, then piled in the cars and vans first thing in the morning Saturday to schlep it all the way up to some suburb of Wausau to play an afternoon show, then back in the vans for another 250 miles to play at the Uptowner.

Understatement of the year: thems boys was strung out. But in a good way.

Sometimes when you're completely strung out, all you've got left is music and mayhem, and the Uptowner is the correct bar to host such a thing. Totally different feel: more of the kind of loud, high-ceilinged, corner tap you'd expect this kind of band in. Being in Riverwest, it has a touch of artsiness, and it's loaded with Riverwest characters.The names change, the roles don't: local artsy girls, the neighborhood drunk, the up and coming scenesters, the old hippies -- they all put in an appearance at Steve Johnson's establishment at least weekly, if not (in the case of This Decade's Drunk) nightly.
Artwork from, among others, Mike Fredricksen on the walls, an ever changing bathroom, a 1960s cigarette machine back by where the band plays (which used to be an old style barbershop), and the likelihood that there were people there even more strung out than the band (but for different reasons).

This by nature was a louder crowd, and a more demanding one, but the McTavishes pushed through their exhaustion and delivered the goods. Their forays into recognizable rock tunes were even more desperate --Cotter's rendition of "London Calling" was hoarsely and effectively still on key -- and Mullen took his twelve-string into another dimension on "Sky Pilot." Bob Jorin did all he could to keep from completely morphing into John Enthwistle on this one song that I could swear was "Substitute"( with maybe a slight bridge change and different lyrics), and when the hands were called, Brian Kurzinski put down his tin whistle and answered the question "What if Clarence Clemons sat in with the Pogues for a few nights?" And Shurilla? Here was a place where Shurilla can be Shurilla, because he is expected to be Shurilla at the Uptowner : going off on tangents, cracking inside jokes that everybod in the room got, introducing the band with terms that could be endearing only for people who know 'em, dropping Johnson's name every chance he could get, and keeping his cool when said neighborhood drunk tried to take it too far toward the end.

Ripping off JMF
Originally uploaded by V'ron.
I took it easy on the drinks, and spent the night more closely working on dealing with photographing them, admittedly leaning on my film camera more than the previous night. The crowd here danced more, they sang along more, they shouted more, they drank more, which I think gave the band the oomph to make it through this marathon of music. If the Groove was our living room, the Uptowner was the rec room. A few people walked in with stupid plastic green derbies, but overall, as you can see, this crowd did the wearin' of the green stylin. See picture of Myles above: I was kind of touched he did the awful kelly green two nights in a row. Maybe I'm cute when I'm pissed off or something.

Oh, and spotted in the audience, my worthy replacement in the Psychobunnies, Brian Wurch recruiting bands for MOMBOB2 -- the Milwaukee Original Music Battle of the Bands. Rock on, Rev Leisure!


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