• 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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  • St. Vincent: Turner Hall, 4/4/14

    Posted 04/07/2014 by cal

    In September of 2007, The National played a lower-level show at the Pabst, and when the crowd filtered out it seemed like all anyone was talking about was opener St. Vincent. At that show, St. Vincent was simply Annie Clark, alone onstage with an arsenal of gadgets. I assume she must've had a guitar but I seriously don't remember; her set seemed to me like a noisy bunch of loops and I scoffed at the hype. Typical.

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  • Papadosio: Turner Hall, 4/3/14

    Posted 04/06/2014 by cal

    It's a long road, getting into Phish and then Phish breaking up and trying to fill the void with jambands, then realizing that most jambands are terrible, and then Phish getting back together and being better than last time but not quite as good as WAY back in the day, and then still having this lingering hope that some day there'll be a new band that fuses dark, psychedelic rock with wild improvisational spirit that gives you the feeling Phish used to, and then projecting that desire onto every young band that you stumble upon with even a hint of that potential, and then writing ridiculous run-on sentences about the whole thing.

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  • Juniper Tar: Turner Hall Ballroom, 4/27/12

    Posted 05/01/2012 by cal

    Ever since Wilco went indie rock, the whole folk rock trend seems to have lost its way.  Hell, even My Morning Jacket went disco, and if all we’re left with is Fleet Foxes in the national picture, God help us. (I’m not even going to get started on Bon Iver.) But freed from the pressures of keeping up with a widespread scene, Milwaukee has kept the flame alive all this time, to the point where now it’s the dominant unifying sound of Brewtown.  Go figure; this is where the rural and the urban meet, a cultural melting pot with plenty of room to breathe.  It may be a sad thought, but with the passing of Levon Helm, there could well be a massive resurgence in roots music, but around these parts it’s been full steam ahead all along.  2012 will purportedly see new releases from The Championship and Field Report (start getting excited now), and Friday night, The First Waltz at Turner Hall Ballroom (naturally!), was in honor of Juniper Tar’s exceptional new album Since Before.  I don’t care if you’re sick of hearing about these guys.  They rule.

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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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  • The Big Pink/A Place To Bury Strangers @ Turner Hall Ballroom

    Posted 04/15/2010 by cal

    I love Turner Hall, but I was dismayed to find no Rehorst Citrus & Honey flavored Vodka behind the bar. At the one music venue that carries it, and at a relatively decent price, I've gotten into the habit of treating myself. Oh, well, the standard gin and vodka are as good as any on the market, so I can't really justify a complaint.

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  • Mogwai: Turner Hall Ballroom, 5-9-09

    Posted 05/18/2009 by cal

    The thing about Mogwai is that if you dwell on the studio material too much, you can get really burnt out and discouraged and completely forget how amazing the band is live if you go, say, five and a half years without seeing it. It’s not that The Hawk Is Howling is a bad album. In fact, it was a relief after Mr. Beast. But it still sounds like Muzak compared to the live Mogwai experience, just as all the albums do.

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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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  • 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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