In praise of opening acts
Dawes is the latest support band to wow us this year. And lots of other great openers are coming to town soon. Plan on showing up early.
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Because we’ve reached the midpoint of 2010—and because we’re a bunch of list-making dorks here at A.V. Club Milwaukee—we’ve been thinking today about our favorite local shows so far this year. And we noticed something kind of funny: Almost all of them have been opening acts. Among them are Dum Dum Girls opening for Girls at Pabst Theater, Strange Boys supporting Jaill at Cactus Club, and Nathaniel Rateliff doing a sparkling undercard set for The Tallest Man On Earth at the Pabst—and, really, we could mention several others. We’re not saying these bands upstaged the headliners, but they certainly matched them, and the surprise of being blown away before the supposed “main” band has kept these gigs lodged in our brains ever since.
Added to our memorable performances of ’10 list was last night’s invigorating set by L.A. folk-rock band Dawes, who played to an occasionally restless audience at the Pabst before a rapturously received show by Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeroes. We were already fans after catching Dawes open for Cory Chisel at Turner Hall in February, but seeing these scrappy late ’60s SoCal rock classicists absolutely kill it in the Last Waltz-like confines of the Pabst made us wish that all the Sharpe fans in the house were a little more attentive. While Dawes is no match for Sharpe in terms of hippie-addled spectacle, the band’s passionately heartfelt performance packed an emotional wallop that cut through the loud din of drunken, college-kid chatter.
We’re not going to rattle off the old lecture about how concert-goers should pay opening acts proper respect. But, c’mon, you should pay opening acts proper respect! Because otherwise you’re missing out on some really outstanding stuff, especially lately, when there are so many good (and discount-priced) tandems on tour. For instance, we can think of five upcoming concerts off the top of our heads with opening bands that are at least as good as the headliners.
- The New Pornographers with excellent folk-pop bands The Dodos and The Dutchess & The Duke June 12 at Pabst Theater.
- The Daredevil Christopher Wright (who distinguished themselves in an opening-act slot for Bon Iver last fall at Riverside Theater) with Sheboygan folkie Cedarwell June 26 at the Cactus Club.
- Blitzen Trapper with emerging indie-rock band Avi Buffalo July 28 at Turner Hall. (AB also open for Modest Mouse at July 3 Summerfest.)
- The Dead Weather with feisty garage-rock trio Harlem—whose headlining show in May at Mad Planet might be our No. 1 local show so far this year—July 29 at The Rave.
- The National with uplifting indie-folk group The Antlers—whose 2009 release Hospice made scores of best-of lists—Aug. 4 at Riverside Theater.
So, show up early and maybe shut your yap for a few songs. You might walk away with a new favorite band.