From Handsome Furs to Drugs Dragons: The A.V. Club’s guide to Radio Summer Camp
Although book-ended by a pair of high profile shows (Ted Leo And The Pharmacists, who help kick things off Wednesday at Turner Hall; and The Budos Band, who headline Sunday’s free Backyard BBQ), WMSE’s Radio Summer Camp festival also packs a lot of worthwhile music into the intervening days. With acts spanning a wide variety of genres and shows scattered across multiple venues, things can get overwhelming rather quickly. Here are a few highlights:
Handsome Furs at The Rave/Eagles Ballroom
The idea of a husband-and-wife indie-rock duo may illicit a few groans (do hip couples get record deals with their marriage certificates?), but the Montreal-based Handsome Furs smartly fold insistent synths into a more conventional, sometimes angst-y, indie framework. For what it’s worth, the male half of these Sub Pop signees, Dan Boeckner, is also in Wolf Parade.
The Demix at Club Garibaldi
Giving a stable home to electronic music’s fringe innovators, the monthly MELT series shines the spotlight on industrious knob-twiddlers from Milwaukee and beyond. Series curator The Demix (a.k.a. Paul Fuhr) creates ambitious soundscapes that run the gamut between cinematic atmospherics and kinetic drill ’n’ bass.
All Tiny Creatures (special electronic set) at Club Garibaldi
In addition to headlining Club Garibaldi the following night, the members of post-rock outfit All Tiny Creatures (including Thomas Wincek of Wisconsin’s own Collections Of Colonies Of Bees) cap off this festival edition of MELT with an all-electronic set. Given the group’s flair for rich textures and hypnotic yet upbeat rhythms, the lack of traditional instruments won’t be a handicap.
Drugs Dragons at Bay View Brew Haus
Riding high after the release of their well-received The Milorganight EP, as well as a sweet supporting slot at Nobunny’s recent Milwaukee gig, Drugs Dragons have become something of a local staple. Rocking, fun, and gloriously shambolic, the band does garage-punk right, which may seem easy, but in reality is anything but.
Dosh at Cactus Club
In a label roster full of innovators and mavericks, Dosh stands out as indicative of Anticon Records’ sense of unfettered experimentalism and genre bending. Though he’s just as comfortable working collaboratively with the likes of Bonnie “Prince” Billy, Damo Suzuki, and P.O.S. (just to name a few), Dosh is best known for his solo performances, where he weaves complexly layered, evocative compositions from little more than a drum kit, a Fender Rhodes, and a loop pedal.
DEDE at Stonefly Brewing Company
DEDE already reached millions of ears by providing the soundtrack to a particularly weird Friskies cat food commercial (wherein an unsuspecting kitty eats the Purina product and promptly trips the fuck out), but it would be unfair to judge the group based solely on that somewhat dubious achievement. The duo, which features Wisconsin native Deanne Reynolds on vocals, deals in supremely blissed-out dream-pop, all carefully constructed and full of retro flourishes.
Juiceboxxx at Stonefly Brewing Company
Though currently residing in Los Angeles, Milwaukee expatriate Juiceboxxx certainly hasn’t left the Midwest behind, at least if the title of his latest mix-tape, Journeyman From The Heart Land, is any indication. A hyperactive concoction of rap, throbbing four-on-the-floor house, and, um, climbing on stuff, the wiry Juiceboxxx is a monster live, with an extremely high bang-for-buck ratio.
French TV at Shank Hall
Active since 1983, this Louisville prog outfit has undergone frequent personnel changes over the years, with bassist and primary composer Mike Sary being the one Mark E. Smith-esque constant. Highly faithful to its skronky forebears, particularly the fertile late-’60s/early ’70s Canterbury scene, no instrument is off limits for French TV, and exploration is a watchword.
Jaill at Bay View Brew Haus
Easily Milwaukee’s leading light as far as national exposure is concerned, Jaill describes itself as psych-pop, which is a concise way of saying it plays solid, accessible rock that isn’t afraid to doodle weird things in the margins. The group’s latest, and first for Sub Pop, 2010’s That’s How We Burn, found Jaill in fine form, displaying a confidence honed from years of home recording.