Friday, June 12, 2009

How have I only just heard (well in the past four years) of these bands?


Punk for the Whole Family!
Originally uploaded by V'ron
So last week, as I tweeted, I'm driving in my car and I hear a song on WMSE that caught my ear hard enough that I pulled over, called the DJ, and asked who it was. It turned out to be a band called Art Brut, on a record produced by Frank Black (one of our family's favorites) and that explained enough. But it was the main verse that really hooked it for me: "I can't believe I've only just discovered The Replacements... How have I only just found out about The Replacements?" I instantly went home and downloaded their latest, "Art Brut vs. Satan" and I highly recommend the whole thing.

So that chorus was going through my head on my way to the Floor Model 10th Year Anniversary at the Polish Falcon last Saturday night. 10 years? I only just discoverd them a few years back! How have I only known about them for four years, when they've been around almost a decade? So I enter the Falcon Bowl hall and feel like I've crashed a wedding: it's 7:30, there's a table with buffet-type snacks, and a few entire families (including older folks and little kids) milling about. Maybe it's because I've been to so many weddings there (including my own), but yeah, there's Floor Model up on the stage, playing a clean set and they sound very comfortable playing songs that, it turns out, they've been cranking out for 10 years. It didn't feel like a punk reunion, despite the history of their posterage all over the walls. It really did feel like a wedding, a family reunion for a family I've only just joined --like I'm the new girlfriend of some second cousin or something. Sharing the bill that night was The Grand Disaster, who have definitely been in this family for awhile. The link here is bassist Mark E Lee (who is actually Floor Model's second bassist -- I thought he was the first, given that the first time I saw Floor Model they didn't have any bass -- and I lamented that very fact.). Peppered through the audience were plenty of folks from the accompanying crowd -- past and present members of the Chop Top Toronados, Dr Chow's Love Medicine (my DH was home with the kids, little did we know this was a family friendly event, at least for the first coupla hours). I've seen/written about the Grand Disaster before -- I like them, but I do agree with another person in the crowd that they're still in the process of finding their collective voice out of three dominant ones who share songwriting and vocal duties. And I don't just mean vox when I say "collective voice" -- as my friend said, when they hit it, they are right on target and will be formidable. Still, they do improve every time I see them, and I'll continue to follow their career. I like 'em. They have a mix of bravado and self-reflection that, yes, when they hit it, they hit it. And they're not caught up in any kind of stupid alt-indie self-consciousness or importance.

Tuesday night was the second Chill on the Hill Tuesday. We just couldn't do last week -- it was just too cold, even for one of my favorite guys in town, Paul Cebar. But darn it, I think if I start doing summer things, maybe we can just WILL the summer to come. Stella and Sammy and I spent a sunday scoping out the new David Schultz waterpark, which, should be buzzing with happy kids in June, but who's going swimming, even in a heated pool, on a 58 degree day? Still, at least we scoped it out and it looks like lots of fun. With that "will the summer into coming" we braved the crummy clouds and headed out to Humboldt Park Tuesday night, pic-a-nic basket and folding chairs in hand, and a blanket, ostensibly to sit on, but ended up being used to cover our bodies in our chairs for warmth.

First up, indie-rockers Sharking Hour. I'm sorry, maybe it was the cold drearyness, but I guess Sharking Hour didn't do a whole lot for me. They've got solid melodies but somehow their overall presentation didn't translate well to a huge stage at Humboldt Park. And they way they arranged their setlist kind of lost me early in the set: they opened with a handful of songs that started out establishing a 3-4 chord progression/melody, verse-chorus and then jam out on the verse (or just rave up the verse). Not all their songs are like this, but they did somethign like four in a row that had this pattern, so Stella and I noticed this and then said, "OK, there's their formula." When they strayed from this, they were worth listening to, even if I'm not crazy about sensitive jangly music to begin with. But the formula they're working gets tiresome after a few songs -- they need to spread that through the set and it would probably work better.

The Aimless Blades followed and I was afraid they'd be lost without some of the extra instrumentation they have on their recordings. (The saxes and violins and such are actually a reason they're among my favorite local releases -- they really fill out the sound). But they came out wearing their love for Dylan and Young on their sleeves, but gave it a Milwaukee stamp and made it work. They have perfected that level of melancholic bravado that the Grand Disaster is working. Too bad it was getting chilly, the kids were getting cranky (from the chill), and it was an overall dreary night. This is the kind of music that works best on a breezy summer evening, and back when it was scheduled, you would THINK it would be a breezy summer evenining on June 9 for chrissakes.

Crappy weather weekend coming up, but there's no loss for good tunes. Saturday night at the Ring there's a terrific lineup that includes Dr Eugene Chadbourne (yes, THEE Eugene Chadbourne) along with the Dark Clan and a couple other local bands to support the good doctor. They're in competition with all the goings on at Pridefest, and also the return of the mantastic Animal Magnets. There's a band with enough testosterone to make Smilin' Bob feel inadequate. Locust Street festival is this Sunday, and while I determine whether my knees can do the Beer Run, there's a very good lineup on all the stages that will underline the worthyness of this festival. I go mainly to run into other folks anyway.

But tonight, I sit at home whilst the husband plays a gig at a pizza joint, and wish Marlavous and Miss Amy a happy birthday.

NEWS FLASH: My band, Loblolly, has just confirmed that we'll be playing one of our rare shows at the Circle A (during one of their rare openings!) on the night of the Solstice, June20. We're playing with Floor Model, and a new group called the Hullmen which includes members of Aluminum Knot Eye (a band I've been wanting to see for over a year now). Really, I'll probably see Aluminum Knot Eye in a few years and be asking, "How have I only just heard of Aluminum Knot Eye?" I really need to see them, too.

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