All Messed up in Linneman's with guest blogger Jeff Worman
Today's guest blogger is my old friend from my living in Riverwest days, Jeff Worman. I met/knew him from the Crazy Shepherd era: he is an artist/writer who contributed to the Crazy Shepherd (his "The Hourly Why" was a great biweekly dose of astrophysical WTF) and he was a man-about-Riverwest with whom I shared many spirited conversations about art, music and news at the Uptowner, the Gordon Park Pub, and Begga's. If you even know what those names are, you probably know Jeff Worman and don't need this introductory paragraph. These days, he resides in SE WI, he's a columnist and cartoonist for the Los Angeles Post Examiner, and broadcaster at WFAQ-LP FM, Mukwonago.
Last Saturday night, while I was having fun at the Circle A and Company Brewing, he was at Linneman's for another conflict event I wish I could have made. Here's his report (all photos/artwork are his as well: copyright Jeff Worman 2018 and used with permission):
For a lot of people, it was harder than usual to find parking on the crowded residential streets of Riverwest, but I managed to find something around the corner on Fratney. It wasn’t raining too bad, although deep standing puddles along the uneven sidewalk, pitching and heaving, with patches of ice and grime, made hoofing it a conscious effort.
Linnemann’s Riverwest Inn. Walked through the entry, past aging boomers, millennials vaping, smoking and braving the elements; I was immediately greeted by Commander Todd Ciske, the friend whose band I primarily came to see. He and I go way back to the early pirate days of Modern Rock 107, WTPS, now WFAQ-LP FM, the Nation’s Music Source, nestled not on the East side, Riverwest, but the west side of Mukwonago. He’s been in a number of bands that have played the Milwaukee scene since the eighties as a guitarist, but this would be his first as a drummer performing live.
The experiment: All Messed Up – diverse musicians are thrown all together, picked randomly to form a band. They are given some time to practice, form some kind of chemistry, write some new material, have one cover – then hit the stage. Sixty-four people of varying interests and disciplines, picked to form 16 bands, this was the eighth year. I made it for the second night but missed the first act, The Sheets. (Thai joint I went to on Oakland, first for something to eat was busy, slowing me down. The waitress did try to make up for it initially by talking really fast. Not fast enough.)
The first act I saw was Pickle Cat – essentially doing some punked up blues. Good stuff. The keyboardist during the sound check demonstrated herself to be an accomplished pianist, yet none of her expertise really translated into the keys, as I would have thought, with that original prowness, other than having some fun with her fellow bandmates. This is fine, but Jess Kroha Anderson could have really opened it up if she chose to do so. She did play kazoo, contributing to the zaniness, where a harmonica player could have indeed kicked up a storm. Instead wailed on kazoo, carrying the band, all professional tight, while the vocalist mused: a soulful guitarist. The cover: It’s Blues: how can you really tell if it’s a cover or an original, unless they say so? Behind the performers was a pastel drawing of a Pickle Cat with the band’s name. Good art.
Visual accompaniment. That was part of All Messed Up 8, this year, have some visual component. Graphics. Lights. Matching outfits like Herman’s Hermits or Paul Revere and the Raiders like bands of old? Just wait. The most enlightening thing that really grabbed me, was the video behind Discharge Instructions of a maniacal rabbit puppet, in black and white, an old timey video, clapping and milling about, seemingly to the music.
|Lindsay Lohan and Tonya Harding|
Always a theme. Previously there had been a band bio, for another All Messed Up, I was told, written by the bands themselves, with a great deal of creative license, read by the man behind All Messed up, Charlie Shields. He was in the next group. The band, Lindsay Lohan and Tonya Harding, yes, that was the name, in which my friend and colleague Todd Ciske played drums. Todd said he was all set to play a guitar but their drummer dropped out, so he filled the spot needed for percussion. He had it together. It was a thematic presentation with guitarist and vocalist Amber Rae, belting it out with an angry voice made for punk rock. Also, an erotic dancer, or as my esteemed colleague put it: “a stripper, at Art’s Performing Center.” Back and forth, (reminiscent of the banter between John Doe and Exene Cervenka of the legendary X,) Lindsay Lohan and Tonya Harding’s male and female vocalist tore it up. Screaming, “Why, why, why,” for their Tonya number and then “Do the Lindsay Lohan,” she is a natural. Next to Amber, Chris Haise, also a voice for rock and a superb musician. Besides the kickin’ light show for their presentation, created by Todd Ciske, Amber Rae was a visual presentation unto herself. Although an erotic dancer, yes, she was clothed. Costumed as punk rocker ‘80s, early 2020s, bright blond hair tied back and a period outfit. Their cover: “This Magic Moment” – Drifters or Jay and the Americans. Your pick.
Next was You, Me, Dad and Boba Fett. Someone shouted, “Are you hear to collect your bounty?” Rapper Jacob McElrone wearing a Boba Fett t-shirt, you would have though they would have all been wearing something Star Wars. No. Rap with flautist Kelly Martin: she held you, hauntingly as Jacob told his stories. Pensive guitar with percussion and good presence by all. Bad ass, they flowed, but to discern the cover; it all blended into one grand statement. I would have liked to see the lyrics up on the screen to read.
Wish I could have seen them all. All the bands and other years. If the bands didn’t name themselves, Charlie would. Boba Fett was one of those he named as was the Surfing Assholes. Great names. Previous night was Let Charlie Name Us, Wife Material and Star Pilots of the Great Wheel: Arcturus V. Really like the names. (Dildo Launcher, maybe not so much.)
Then there’s Wheat Thiccs. Each wearing a dinosaur costume and their cover being the theme to Jurassic Park. The lead vocalist, Rob Woefl, growling, albeit, roaring into the mic after each instrumental. Truly unique was Rachel Orheim, a gifted cellist. For the most part, she carried lead bringing an innovative edge to rock the house. Playing seated, and of course donning a dinosaur costume as well; it was an electric. Maybe I’m old school, but weren’t these cellos, made of wood, instead of something hollowed out of what looked like carbon fiber? She is a member of the Concord Chamber Orchestra. Probably dresses differently while performing with them elsewhere.
The last band I saw was Discharge Instructions, a four piece with Juice Man, Samuel Alberts, Dave Lucas and Ian Ehrnstrom. Juice Man? Some nice earthy punk, originals I would like to hear again. With a great rendition of Freedom of Choice, as the cover; Devo keeps it poppy. They did not. It’s too bad after the two night gig that’s it. The bands disappear like the rain that came down throught the night, then washed away into the streets.
The show goes on. Shuffle the deck, see how they arrange next time. All Messed Up Defenestration, 8: the poster had the 8 sideways for infinity. Forever and like 8, 9 should be interesting for AD 2019. The idea is just too good for just but once a year!