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

Performance Art

Shuriken, Doom and Bang, Shinobi Ninja

  
You always see obscure band stickers plastered in bathroom stalls at the bar, on the fridges, or both; On empty shells of payphones, bus shelters and all kinds of other non-objectionable places, tattoos of the modern urban landscape. Then that one always jumps into your vision, hard to unsee, especially when the colorway gleams hot pink. S-H-I-N-0-B-I in geometric block letters, circles, squares and triangles the dominant motifs… NINJA. You know what genre it doesn’t come from, but from where does it? Blau!

Rounding that corner to full on band maturity, Shinobi Ninja rose out of Brooklyn’s primordial soup in 2008, dropped their debut in 2011 (the title track of it Rock Hood swiftly picked and featured on the video game NBA 2K12) and dabbled in storytelling with their 2014 release Escape from NY.

They’ve found their way back into their true niche of Afropunk with their most recent release Artistic Visions, which to the uninitiated equals rock x rap x fitting genre (y). They leaked an exclusive from Absolutepunk.net titled Bang Bang, a self-aware, clinical and polished cut from an outfit that cared enough to make a extra stop in MKE long enough to inspire a few game revelers to slap a stickers up, the mark of a good memory.

Bang Bang via Shinobi Ninja on YouTube

 


Can You See? Mad Planet, Busdriver

Damn conventional wisdom, Busdriver still matters if he don’t get heard. It baffles me that a dude can collaborate with one of the illest, illest, rappers of all time Aceyalone as a teen,  put out give-or-take 12 albums through out the 2000’s into today, and still be okay paying dues. That’s probably why he’s so raw. Not trying too hard to be cool, and being cool being among the good people. 

In 2014, Busdriver let Open Mic Eagle, Nocando, and Milo kill it before he let loose some sheit that had me thinking “this is what Socrates was talking about with The Cave.”  Do you know what you’re seeing?


Busdriver at MadPlanet, Dorner vs Tookie Tour, 2014

Busdriver getting it with a pretty lovely local slate putting on, Lorde Fredd33, Zed Kenzo, Milo and admirable Miltown Beatdown competitor hitmayng jockying tonite at Mad Planet.


Deep Sweat, Alchemist Theatre, King of Pop

His contemporaries left silhouettes of incenerated ashes, others have more recently been unearthed long after their heyday, for years burried under piles bullshit they inundated each other with. He immortalized himself, a self-sculpted bronze statue still standing. Andy Warhol the central figure of the New Wave Pop Art movement did not plan to die; loath the idea to let anyone kill him, with establishment aesthetics or petty bullets.

Aaron Kopec delivers his latest stage piece, part 2 of the New York Trilogy, as ode to the 70’s New York underground, a party of legendary hacks and prodigies. He takes us mid-decade where people have tirelessly molded themselves into deformed characatures, desperate attention-starved hedonists. Even the talented put their strengths third at best, lest they sell out.

The Original Fortress

Andy (Randal T. Anderson) is raising an army. An ill-trained band of latently degenerate personalities live mouth to foot in a dingy, crumbling decommissioned factory. They long to make noise, moving pictures and images that get noticed, lacking the strength to project themselve on to the public platform.

Andy lures Edie (Shannon Nettersheim) into his maniacal plans, her place secured by her clutch. She’s a reluctant focal point of the scene, thrown high into the air by Warhol’s crafty vision, will she ever come down. 

Blown in by Westerly winds, a young fellow named Bob (David Sapiro), to all eyes a talented bumpkin, who could go places if he wasn’t so…bumpkin, feels the invisible hands of the Industry message him into an icon. His contemporary Lou (Mitch Weindorf), ornery in all respects, won’t bend his artistic sensibilities easily, reluctantly sharing the stage with Nico (Niko King), a buxom diva stuck solidly in disco glam.

Valerie (Grace DeWolff) nags Andy at every opportunity, a firecraker, willing to go any extreme to propagate her radical feminist doctrines. She’s ready to get off of street corners and on the silver screen. She fixates on Andy as the goat and glorious key to the room she wants to inhabit, will she get the boost she needs?

A growing hoard of sycophants infest the fortress until one by one they fall to pieces. Jack (Greg Ryan) lewdly employs shock value until no one cares. Vivid (Kathy Landry) reinvents herself, fleeing her midlife routine, neglecting her most important connections for the artifice of an art scene. Suede (Paul Pfannensteil), Candy (Amie Lynn Losi), and Nova (Liz Witford) aimlessly add to the body count of exhibitionist megalomaniacs lingering at the feet of Andy. Fed up, Andy looks through the gudders for new treasures to fancy, finding Jean-Michel (Lamont Smith) a perfectly suitable scratching post.

Gifted and Talented

King of Pop steadily clips through scenes, a touch from Kopec that physically translates the short attention spans contained in the collective conscious of artists. The production benefits from even acting up and down the cast. Anderson and Sapiro deliver spot-on performances that mimic the manner and motive of two legendary figures, that provide a solid axis for the show to revolve. 

Nettersheim uses her enigmatic and fragile presence to portray a relativley gripping character without a lot of stage time to do it in. DeWolff and Weindorf also play well, leaving a distinct impression on the production from the fringe, through their ability to concoct personality and quirks of mannerism into the their performances.

A few zingers get sprinkled throughout to keep the audience honest during this enjoyable, although relatively deliberate 2 Act. Moments of staged melodrama distract from the story, however they stay in check enough as not to distract from the overall quality of the show. Kopec weaves a multimedia aspect into the production, a flavor that is always welcome in live theater.

King of Pop opened last Thursday at the Alchemist Theatre and has runs May 7, 8 and 9, 14, 15 and closing May 16, all show times are 7:30p.


Jetting, Jazz Estate, Unrehearsed MKE #26

Setting the mark for improvised jazz in Milwaukee, Unrehearsed MKE paced its two year anniversary with a follow-up show in March. Unrehearsed MKE came equipped its usual stable of thorough bred musicians, fit for carrying music jockeys around the gormandizing track, a mile and a quarter.

Unrehearsed’s departure from the traditional recital performance doesn’t reveal itself until host Barry Clark shares the recipe, its all improvised. The musicians are live tracks that Clark taps, steps back, and listens to the joy that composition gave.

Unrehearsed #26 featured selections of go-to instrumentation of Jay Mollerskov with Nicholas Elert, and Cody Steinmann all on guitar. Jess Lemont (percussion), Michael Lang (percussion), and Nick Weckman (trombone) went in together.

An odd pairing, vibraphone and gongs performed by Timothy Dries and Michael Bettine, ushered a savory flavor profile coating the audience with satiating interplay.

Unrehearsed #26, Jazz Estate

Unrehearsed #26, Jazz Estate part 2

Unrehearsed MKE residency at Jazz Estate will pick up its monthly place sometime in future, as in May 3rd at 7:30p.


Carnal Beat, Alchemist Theatre, Another Tale of Eddie

Without actually smelling it, the stench of stale beer permeated Eddie’s crap-hole apartment. Petty thieves, smart alec jerks, low-life amateur cons, and shape-shifters, litter the neighborhood that starts when you enter the Alchemist Theatre. It’s dingy. It’s plastered with aerosol tags and shitty band posters, were you just there or are you here? The Bowery was kind of like that. New York 1977 that’s where we are, in the Kitchen.

F-U Too

Aaron Kopec steps off the curb into the gangways of the Rotten Apple to set his latest production Another Tale of Eddie, the first episode in his New York Stories trilogy set for this spring. Like the title says, this tale is about Eddie Valentine (David Sapiro), an oxymoron of a character. He lacks enough scruples to guiltlessly ensnare straggling neophyte posers in petty schemes that separate them from their loose change. At the same time he’s so un-hardcore, he demonstrates repeated he lacks the stomach to really be a heartless bastard that belongs to the night.

Eddie’s running mate Izzy (April Paul) kicks her wits in a nasal Queens-laden inflection, smacking him coldly with sobering sarcasm at every opportunity. She’s not the sharpest razor, only getting the job done as needed. When she teams up with Eddie to fleece fresh faces that show up at a rock shows, she lets you know she’s at least good at one thing.

A Lit Match
Rose (Shannon Nettesheim) enters Eddie’s world, and he quickly finds out she is fresh in more places than just the face. With her, his bladder repeatedly gets called to the carpet. Known to hide behind his tough guy personal, Eddie jellies before our eyes, slowly and sappily, at one point so disgustingly he nearly dry-heaves on himself. He reluctantly bares his soul to Rose, as bared on the pages of his crumpled up notebook, oh god, he’s a writer.

When the Glass Shatters

Enjoyable aspects of Another Tale of Eddie present themselves readily, starting with the scenic design. Small details go duly noted. Manufactured grime coats all of the furnishings, vintage beer cans line the sink and counter tops, a working Zenith tube-t.v. fires up occasionally (the pitch of the transistor jars any pre-milennial memory). In one scene, Eddie opens the cupboards and it’s filled with toasters, a nice reference for recent Alchemist regulars.

Nettensheim maintains an enigmatic disposition throughout her portrayal of Rose, adding much needed dimension to the play’s structure. Eddie stands as a relatively straight-forward character. Sapiro reads this role quite transparently leaving some scenes to approach death on set, although he mostly revives them at the last possible opportunity. In the shoes of Izzy, April Paul provides valuable pace and character consistency of a lower-Eastside punk, from Brooklyn. Jacob Woelfel (Hilly Crystal), Annie Lipski (Sindy), Nathan Sawtelle (Bruce) and Liz Witford make cameos, and most likely will appear in upcoming New York Stories episodes.

Another Tale of Eddie basically acts like that person that does annoying things to the point that you are almost irked, then somehow salvages your outlook with a catchy idea, or lets say a story. This time the Alchemist delivers a mental nipple twister, which in some strange way was kind of gratifying.

Another Tale of Eddie runs tomorrow night March 21, and next weekend on the March 26, 27 and closing Saturday March 28. All shows start promptly at 7:30p.