An e-zine for happenings of local culture in Milwaukee and elsewhere

Archive for June, 2011

Retrospective: Summerfest Pitbull Show Recap

More than memorable, Summerfest 2010 hosted Pitbull on the Harley-Davison Stage. Are there words…? I tried…

This piece appeared two weeks after Summerfest ended in the Sane Artworks Blog, I can’t actually remember but I think I was no worse for wear after having thwarted multiple suitors attempting to sweep my teenage cousin away.


Summer Solstice Season Reprise: Pitbull Show Recap

Is it June, I mean July 19th already? I have gotten the most out of the summer outdoor (and indoor) concert / fest season while it has lasted. I was not going to post this a month later but I am anyway. It’s worth sharing. I think I am still recovering from the damn Pitbull show, and I think his web managers are too. They have only posted one story since the show at Summerfest on June 28th. The show in Milwaukee was extra live, and I have seen a lot of shows in my day. Here’s the recap…

Pitbull barks hard and bites harder

If it wasn’t obvious what the Pitbull show was all about, something is very wrong with your cognition of body language. I was packed in tighter where I was standing than the cornucopia of glutes on stage that were stuffed into spandex thong singlets and sequined Carnaval showgirl costumes. I’ll give you a hint, at fifteen rows back and ten feet off of the seating area, I could barely see the top of Pitbull’s shaved dome. Did it really matter?

A true testament to a music artist’s pull is the turnout they draw on an off-night like Monday. Seriously, any day, any time, except Sunday morning, Mr. 305 could have shut the Brew down. 3/5 parts honeymoon for his latest album Rebelution, 1/5 part ode to his fans, 1/5 part charging the air with lust because he can, Pitbull early on broke into Triumph, a single-worthy anthem from his newest joint. Fans were feeling it, but they responded most to the hard tracks like Calle Ocho, Hotel Room Service and WATAGATAPITUSBERRY.

While people were loosing their minds jumping up to the song KRAZY, bouncing, popping, shaking, and thrusting without millimeters separating appendages and supplely cleaved muscle groups, Pitbull was saturating his marquee skinny tuxedo, the first of which was some kind of blackish-purple, which quickly liquefied into deep violet from repeated end-to-end gallops of the stage, weaving between booty dancers and hype-men alike that were donning head dresses of mohawked multi-colored feathers; some standing on hydraulic stilts giving them the Jar Jar Binks gait.

A set break ensued. At the crowd’s impatient beckoning, in the nick of time, Pitbull emerged through the stage lighting, starting this round in a perfectly good white tux before spitting classic cuts like Go Girl, Mentirosa, and neos like Shut It Down. Mr. 305 had intentions of mongering perspiration like that Axe commercial, as he gyrated dangerously parallel to the stage apron, caring little for the condition of his ankles, Achilles tendons or cumber bun.

Without warning there was a planned power outage, and Pitbull disappeared, only to come back on cue with the rest of his entertainment squad. What happened next can only be described as utterly ridiculous. Pitbull unleashes a cover of the LMFAO ditty Shots, and the secret to world peace is revealed, as every person in sight went absolutely AWOL, jumping in unison like newly freed South Africans.

The show mercifully ended, no one could even scream for another encore. Groups and solo exhibitionists all-the-way to the main promenade, with bloodthirsty gazes, refused to stop dancing: swaying their hips, hands waving and mouths screeching. Last I looked, from the back of the Harley area, the front areas of the stands(it had become an entity unto itself) still overflowing unfurled a Mexican flag, stubbornly cheered and pulsated in the glare of the illuminating flood lights. For all I know the party is still going on. Even Pitbull had to admit Milwaukee is KRAZY. Dale!

Retrospective: Summerfest Shows, Public Enemy

Summerfest 2011 ignites an already raucous solstice season, in its 43rd year of jamming, the local tradition of traditions since 1968. Wasn’t there some other fest in upstate New York around that time? Oh yeah, August 1969…

Last year was no slouch, and will be hard to top. Black Sabbath and Public Enemy played simultaneously last year on the side stages, still hard to fathom.

This post originally appeared on the predecessor to the Local Trolley e-zine, Sane Artworks Blog.


Solstice Season Part 1: Summerfest Shows – Public Enemy

Summerfest is the biggest thing going, in the world they say. The Milwaukee masses come together and do what they can to forget about the winter that past and the one that’s coming.

I covered the PE concerts as a guest writer on MKE Wired.

Finally I’m back in the sphere… follow the link Public Enemy Wrap: Not out of the cross hairs yet.

Public Enemy Wrap: Not out of the cross hairs yet
I’m bleacher surfing and tunneling through the aisles like a mere cat trying to get closer to the front of the stage. I pop up on an open bleacher and this faux hip-hop teapot statured dude with a chinstrap beard is jibber jabbering something about “if you get up, you gotta get down”. I tell this dude “Bro, you been listening to too much 88-9.” The look on my face is saying, fool don’t you know we at a Public Enemy concert and you can get a smack for that. For pushing twenty-five years in the art of boom-bap, Chuck D, a second generation patron rebel of rap, and trusty entourage lead by the antic laden Flavor Flav, still can rock a crowd at any coordinate on the world map. From the looks of the turn out Friday night, you would have thought Drake had just parachuted on to the US Cellular arena stage.

Stuck in the main walk way of the festival grounds, I peer over frocky banged girls, spike mohawk haired guys and nodd with old school players, enjoying a deep remix groove version of Black Steel in the Hour of Chaos, simultaneously urging my Madisonian friends to venture into the fray. Just then PE broke into Anti N**GA Machine. Exhorting every lyric that still comes to my mind, the abrupt fade into Burn Hollywood Burn confirmed the set recapped, in sequence, several tracks from each of PE’s albums, which suited the tracks from PE’s third album Fear of a Black Planet particularly well.

By the time, I excavate my way into the center stage area with surprising ease, Power to the People rhythmically churns and I double back to the outskirts of the masses, to find my feeble Madisonians had already sought refuge from the exuberance. I grab college co-eds at will that chirp about trying to get a better look at Flav, in the spirit of Harriet Tubman, and guide them through the canals of seating to a better vantage point.

The vintage hits Bring the Noise, Terminator X to the Edge of Panic, Can’t Trust It and Fight the Power played, but the show’s highlight was Flavor Flav’s rendition of I Can’t Do Nuttin’ For Ya Man, which I recited in time, miming the patented Flav dance, only to notice those around looking at me like I had the holy ghost and was speaking in tongues. I was truly possessed and so was everybody else. Possessed enough to chant “f*nk separatism” and “f*ck racism” on Flav’s cue after he improved a verse of Sly Stone’s Thank You For Letting Me Be Myself Again. Some visual irony could be witnessed if you scanned the audience. For being in Milwaukee that showed how good of sports we are.

It wasn’t the headlining flashing red X-shaped DJ table show of the glory days, noticeably absent was Terminator X who left the group in ‘99, but well worthy of a Friday night. The sea of people was probably more of a testament to Flavor Flav’s new found pop appeal than their love for the PE message, but an overall worthy effort on the part of Milwaukee’s party goers to do justice to the music legends.

Who’s Sock? Broadminded: Blood is Thicker than Liquor

You can try to sit there with a straight face, but as Broadminded guarantees stolid faces may rip or tear. Another way to look at it, if you’re not laughing, their jabs at reality may land closer to you than you may care to admit. Darn ladies of Broadminded with their knack for wit and entertainment!

In Broadminded’s latest effort, Blood is Thicker than Liquor, Stacy Babl, Anne Graff DeLisa, Melissa Kingston, and Megan McGee breakout the industrial sized clothes hamper and pull out a dozen and a half sketches based on memories of their family and friends. A host of concocted characters humorously navigate everyday life situations like moving into a new apartment, court mandated counseling or getting revenge in innocuous ways.

The Broadminded troop exhibits extraordinary chemistry on stage, very adeptly weaving improv and sketch comedy into their current production. Babl and McGee both graduated from the Second City Conservatory and all four ladies are Comedy Sportz veterans. If nothing else, Blood is Thicker than Liquor gives a clinic on how to pace and structure a comedy performance.

For $10 you get an hour and a half comedy onslaught on weird mannerisms, social ignorance and taboos and great stories. Tonight, Friday June 24th, June 25th at 8:00pm and Sunday June 26 at 4:00pm are your last chances to join the Broadminded family at the Alchemist Theatre.

Her View, Sara Ede: La Pajarita Frenetica

Milwaukee native and splashing photographer Sara Ede has long given up her residence here. She’s better suited to enjoy international adventures anyway (while propagating Milwaukee-ness without ever saying it). Armed with her trusty DSLR, Ede started eagerly documenting her traipse across the four corners of the world. If you have as much fun as she does, in as many noteworthy places, memories make good photos.

Like her being, now fully emerged from its shy place, Ede’s photography embraces the artist’s eye, the fearless intriguing abstruse perception that recognizes order in the strangest places. With her lens, Ede cuts edges off of the standard by capturing those moments that without a back story leave you wondering where it happened and how such timing could be possible. Hopefully, that’s a whole ‘nother chapter in another medium.

Ede’s Milwaukee art roots actually run pretty deep Milwaukee. Her uncle Craig Ede painted the vintage B-Boy mural on Capitol Drive. The mural dates well into the early 1980’s, so in context it’s a great piece and one of my favorites in Milwaukee.

Everyone must return to their source periodically, and that urge brought Ede back to The Good Land this past Winter. Adding to La Pajarita Frenetica’s collection, Ede snapped a few stills of Milwaukee for our fortunate eyes. Other notable work includes Ede’s Abstract Photo Set and Bike Lovers’ Photo Set. Documenting contemporary Street Art, mostly in New York, is Ede’s latest photo project addition.

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Little Swiss There, New Glarus Brewing Co.

Sitting at the bar of your choice enjoying a cold beverage, another couple of merry drinkers belly-up while the bar tender asks “What’ll have?” An “Uh…” follows a pause, then with confidence you hear “I’ll have a Spotted Cow,” and “Same here.” If you’re in a Wisconsin drinking establishment, New Glarus Brewery’s signature flavor most likely flows as certainly as water from kitchen taps.

Labor of Love
Achieving this level of ubiquitousness, reaching par with Miller’s “Lite” craze of the 1970’s and 80’s, no doubt explains New Glarus Brewery’s expansion. On a hill just outside of the half-mile drag through downtown stands the new brewing facility, a grand Swiss-style chalet with gift shop, outdoor beer garden, and layout geared toward self-guided tour. A fitting tribute to founder Deb Carey and her husband, brew meister Dan Carey, the two together lead a fearless craft brew juggernaut. Deb Carey also holds the distinction of first American woman to found a brewery, now grown into Wisconsin largest craft brewer.

A leader in the Wisconsin Brewers Guild, Deb Carey openly voices her support of fellow craft brewers in opposition to Scott Walker’s latest idea to “help” business. Essentially, Walker wants to prevent craft breweries from selling directly to retailers. Wisconsin’s craft brewers fermenting more than 50,000 barrels per year (possibly amended up to 300,000 barrels/yr) would by default face a requirement to distribute the beer through licensed whole sellers.

The Taste of Joy
In the gift shop, availability of vast amounts of New Glarus swag and other products distract only momentarily from the check-out counter with 5 taps for dispensing New Glarus’s latest brews. For $7, beer-tasters can have a pint of their choice and keep the glass, or for $3.50 have three sample drafts and keep the taster. In addition to beer, mugs, pints, growlers, sweatshirts, games, maps, inflatable cows, local cheese curds and countless other chotchkies wait for purchase. The most unlikely item, New Glarus Brewery’s line of personal hygiene products, reveals the lesser known fact that hops have antiseptic qualities crafty people can harness for beer soaps.

Pretty straight forward, the tour allows visitors to walk through a small hallway displaying master brewer and other awards before entering the brewery proper. With early stage beer inside, four large brassy lauter tuns hold watch like British Royal Guards in the main foyer. Pipes and vessels wind down the hall leading the way to the relatively small but highly efficient bottling area. Bottles of the brew de jour filled, capped and labeled with speed that dizzies the mind, receive care from a few guys holding watch for flubs like bottles tipping over on the rollers in the holding area.

Can’t forget the Swiss
As local folklore has it, New Glarus even charmed John Dilliger. A quaint town with tons of personality, New Glarus keeps its heritage foremost with small touches like the town’s chiropractor displaying its sign in large swiss letters spelled “Chiroprakter”. Countless other buildings in town maintain traditional Swiss architectural aesthetic. The Brewery offers a lunch coupon booklet to encourage tour goers to explore town. The participating restaurants have a New Glarus brew deal, most pour a free pint with lunch.

Puempel’s Olde Tavern holds the coveted first page of the coupon book. Their lunch fare is simple enough, bar tender/cooks whip up pizza, brats, hot dogs, cold cuts or salad sandwiches on rye bread. However, for those seeking an authentic experience, Local Trolley suggests Puemple’s liverwurst and Green County Limburger cheese sandwich on rye with horseradish. Luckily you eat with your mouth and not with you nose, this sandwich has the stinky lines wafting that Loony Tunes used to joke about, but it is awfully good.

The Next New Glarus Gerenation
New Glarus’s current brews for tasting while you tour include Two Women (a classic country lager, a can’t lose choice), Cabin Fever (Honey Bock, aka Blatz-on-tap but way better), and Local Trolley’s favorite Moon Man (“No Coast” Pale Ale). Among other qualities that make New Glarus Brewery Tour great, if you like one of the beers you taste you can ask for a New Glarus Brew request card (not to be confused with Quest Card) scribble your favorite brew and pass it on to your favorite drinking establishment. This practice is a great courtesy available to New Glarus fans only possible under the current beer distribution system.

Many who have taken the New Glarus tour before June 2009 probably remember the old brewery on the front edge of town. Still operational, the original Riverside facility offers in-depth guided “hard-hat” tours Fridays at 1:00pm. Here smaller special batches of unplugged, thumbprint, seasonal and oak barrel brews ferment.

Beer Enthusiasts may shop or tour the new brewing facility Monday through Sunday 10:00am to 4:00pm. The New Glarus Brewery location is approximately 2 hours from Milwaukee just west of Madison off of HWY 39. A trip to New Glarus may sound a little strenuous, so if a pilgrimage is not in the cards you can use the New Glarus beer finder to start a beer treasure hunt.

(If you have interest in supporting Wisconsin’s Craft Brewers do your home work, then find and contact your State representative here)