• Milwaukee Psych Fest 2017

    Posted 05/15/2017 by cal

    You knew this thing would eventually outgrow Cactus Club. As sick as music writers have got to be of typing the word ‘psych’, still it persists as a catch-all tag for reverb, drone, and general weirdness in music, and its popularity shows no signs of fading despite the hiatus of Levitation (formerly Austin Psych Fest, the mother of all psych fests). The plus side of its omnipresence is that a psych festival can encompass virtually all genres nowadays, and this year’s Milwaukee edition boasted by far the most eclectic lineup to date. I caught most of the Friday and Saturday performances, and I wrote little bits about 'em.

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  • The Best Music Of 2014

    Posted 01/20/2015 by cal

    The Beast. Many, many words and numbers and links (and even a few playlists) concerning my favorite musicks of 2014. Enjoy.

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  • The Best Shows I Saw In 2014

    Posted 12/23/2014 by cal

    In an effort to impress upon people who need these things explained the ultimate meaningless of the numbers involved in these lists I like to write, there is a tie for number one this year. The shows were so completely different and earth-shattering that I couldn't possibly choose. BUT THEN NUMBER TWO SHOULD REALLY BE NUMBER THREE. Are you happy now?

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  • R.I.P., CWM

    Posted 02/16/2013 by cal

    I’m glad I’m not going to be at Cactus Club tonight.  When a band I love announces four days in advance that its next show will be its last, and it’ll be an opening set for that Alan Sparhawk side project band [NOTHING AGAINST RETRIBUTION GOSPEL CHOIR], I (apparently) feel somewhat relieved that I already have tickets to a different show.  It’s not even a band I like nearly as much as Celebrated Workingman, but it’s a good band that’s not about to end itself.  What, with a fill-in bassist [NOTHING AGAINST SCOTT SCHOENBECK] and who knows what kind of intra-band drama at the root of the breakup, is the likelihood that tonight will be the best show Celebrated Workingman ever plays?  Even if it is, I can’t live in that moment; it would only make the (let’s face it: not-so-)sudden demise of the band that much harder to take.  It’s hard enough from a distance.

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  • The Promise Ring: Turner Hall Ballroom, 2/24/12

    Posted 02/26/2012 by cal

    Confession of a bad Milwaukeean: I never saw The Promise Ring during its original run. I was in town, I was aware of the band, I was hanging out with people who went to Promise Ring shows. But I hated emo. I thought emo had arrived to kill off punk rock and make my lifestyle invalid. Never mind that Davey von Bohlen was writing lyrics that could’ve made me feel better during a very troubled time, describing my mindset far more accurately than punk ever could. Never mind that I was supposed to be this open-minded kid who went to Metalfest one weekend and Phish the next. Punk was sacred, and emo was sacrilege. Maybe emo did end up killing punk after all; I’m too far removed now to be the judge. But I do know that what kids call emo these days is a far cry from what Promise Ring cranked out on Friday night at Turner Hall.

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  • Top Ten Non-Phish Shows Of 2010

    Posted 01/20/2011 by cal

    This is the way it’s got to be for now.  If you read this blog with any regularity you’re probably sick of getting Phished to death anyway, but no other band puts on as good a show these days.  So I’ll skip writing about seven of the eight Phish shows I went to in 2010 (but for anyone interested, 10/16 was the best show I saw in 2010) and point out some of the other amazing nights of the year.  In narrowing down this list, it became clear that 2010 has to be my new best year ever; some truly mind-blowing shows didn’t even make the cut.

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  • CWM and SysTor

    Posted 06/27/2010 by cal

    It's weird going to two shows in one night with no interest in seeing the headliner at either one, but it happens.  In an effort to start catching up on a busy month, I present this recap of June 19th (Garfield's birthday, in case you didn't know).

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  • Hurricane Bells/Deep Dark Woods/Mark Waldoch: Cactus Club, 5.15.10

    Posted 05/17/2010 by cal

    Muzzleofbees.com & trueendeavors.com present...” said the Cactus Club website.  Way to represent: I’d say the crowd maxed out at maybe fifteen people, pretty sad for a Saturday night.  Maybe these two website "presenters" are the equivalent of celebrity executive producers?  I didn’t even mind paying ten bucks to get in, I felt so bad for the bands.

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  • The Best Shows I Saw In 2009

    Posted 04/14/2010 by cal

    I don’t think I’ve ever experienced a better year of live music than 2009. 2001 and 2003 were pretty much neck and neck before, but they were both missing one key ingredient: a revitalized Phish. I wish I could’ve squeezed Radiohead in there somehow, but aside from that, it was as if all my favorite live acts conspired to keep my mind blown for most of the year. And since most (if not all) of them will be touring again in the coming months, ’09 may not even hold the crown for long…but we’ll see. My rule for this list, as always, is only one show per artist; otherwise, there might have only been three bands on it.

    (note: links in the headings are to my original reviews of these shows, where possible)

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  • The Celebrated Workingman: Cactus Club, 4th Of July

    Posted 07/09/2009 by cal

    My review of the Stephen Malkmus & The Jicks headlining spot at the Red, White & Pabst Blue Ribbon fest is up on JamBase. This CWM show was one of many aftershows...

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  • The Best Shows Of 2008

    Posted 02/04/2009 by cal

    When I started brainstorming this list, I was thinking "who the heck did I even see this year besides SC3?" As it turns out, as I've perused the archives, that's due to the dominant awesomeness of SC3 and NOT the lack of good shows this year. I had a brutal time trying to decide what meant more to me than what else, but here's how it all shook out…

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  • Milwaukee's Best 2008

    Posted 01/21/2009 by cal

    I seriously struggle with the notion that I might be biased just because I live here, and then I go see Decibully play at the BBC and wonder how the hell this band is not playing auditoriums across the country.

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  • The Best Music Of 2008

    Posted 01/16/2009 by cal

    Sure, 2008 was a slow year in music, but it was an essential year nonetheless. It’s imperative to get away from the big names sometimes, whether their relative inactivity forces you to or not.

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  • "Smoked Out" Vital Source Party @ Cactus Club

    Posted 11/17/2008 by cal

    I was planning on checking out the Borg Ward last night to see Young Widows rock the house, but we didn't really get rolling in time (it was a very laaaazzzy Saturday). So we went with the sure thing: The Celebrated Workingman and Ifihadahifi at the Cactus Club.

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  • MSE Fest: Decibully, The Championship, The Celebrated Workingman

    Posted 09/04/2008 by cal

    If you had a good amount of free time one weekend prior to the big bike brouhaha, you could’ve caught a very nice smattering of bands that are contributing to making the Milwaukee music scene swell with excitement these days. I’m not going to say “if you had the money;” for the entirety of MSE Fest, which featured 29 artists at seven venues over the course of four days, you only had to fork over twenty bucks. Sadly, I was only able to make time for three of these artists, one night only.

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