Local bands among the many that suffered during the great Milwaukee flood of '10
Amid the devastation caused by the Biblical-style torrents of rain that soaked the Milwaukee area last Thursday night was major flooding that occurred at the Miller & Campbell Costume Service building at 907 S. First St. The 32,000-square foot facility has long been used by local bands looking for cheap rehearsal spaces; before last week’s storms poured several feet of water into many of those rooms, Miller & Campbell was populated by some of the biggest names in Milwaukee music, including Decibully, Collections Of Colonies Of Bees, The Championship, John The Savage, and Group Of The Altos.
Fortunately, the bands we contacted over the weekend told us that the damage caused to instruments, amplifiers, and recording equipment was not as bad as it could’ve been. The Championship arrived at its practice space just a half-hour before the building flooded, according to the band’s frontman Joe Crockett, who said the room was besieged by “a massive river” that dumped two feet of water in the control room of its studio in a matter of minutes. After moving The Championship’s equipment to higher ground, Crockett helped to secure Decibully’s valuables. “If we weren’t there, all this stuff would be ruined,” he said.
Decibully’s B.J. Seidel arrived at the building as the water was rising past his ankles. “I think the roof collapsed at some point because water was flowing from the top floor and down the stairs like a waterfall,” he said in an e-mail to The A.V. Club. “It was devastating to see all those band guys running feverishly into what was basically a wading pool trying to save their life's possessions. It was total chaos.”
For some bands, the flood damage would’ve been much worse had they not already moved out most of their stuff in response to past flooding in the building. Chris Rosenau of Collections Of Colonies Of Bees said his band’s equipment was relocated after water leaked in just the week before. While the band now has a newer and hopefully dryer rehearsal spot, Rosenau said he has mixed emotions about leaving Miller & Campbell. “It sucks because we have been down there for nine years,” Rosenau said in an e-mail. “We were there when we were Pele. We were down there when The Promise Ring was [rehearsing there]. Camden, Decibully, Mark Waldoch, Temper Temper, Hey Mercedes, we shared that place with all of them. Lots of amazing music happened in that place.”
Still, the risk of losing hundreds, if not thousands of dollars worth of musical essentials is enough to finally scare off Crockett, who spent the weekend trying to find a new rehearsal space to rent. “You invest so much of time and energy into doing this stuff and buying equipment,” he said. “To see it wash away, it’s not worth it to me.”