When Cabo meets Kalamazoo: Milwaukee bands hit the road for spring break
All the signs of spring in Milwaukee are in order: John Malan’s GLH spray-on hair is becoming less effective with each day; Kemp’s “Monkey Business” banana-flavored milk is flying off a lone Pick ‘N Save shelf; and additions to Miller Park’s video screen and hot-dog-buying capabilities finally match the subtractions from the Brewers’ starting rotation.
And, judging by the lack of parking at Mitchell Airport last week, the exodus to hot spots southward was alive and well for many partiers. These intrepid spring breakers hit up beaches where the undertow of culture has swept away Eric Nies and Red Hot Chili Peppers, and washed ashore DJ Pauly D and Chickenfoot.
But for Milwaukee’s indie, punk, and weirdo bands, spring is a time to hit the road and have a damn fun time paying their dues in exotic locations such as Canada, Kalamazoo, and the gorges of Washington state.
Jaill is following up some recent Midwest and Rust Belt touring with a break back home before their biggest show of the spring: the Sasquatch Music Festival in Washington. Band ring leader Vinnie Kircher calls the show—held in a gorge and on the same bill as Wilco and Guided By Voices—a chance to catch contact highs from the crowd and hobnob with folks from Sub Pop, who have promised to bring funnel cakes. Also, there will be Pall Malls.
“The set [list] for the show will be pretty much the same, but we’ll add in a lot more smiling and bowing on our way onto stage,” Kircher says. “It’s outdoors, so maybe we’ll smoke cigarettes during the show.”
John The Savage is bouncing around Indiana and as far east as Pittsburgh, while noise fiend Peter J. Woods is testing PAs in Iowa, Missouri, southern Ohio, and Michigan. And in a tag-team match that would make Jake “The Snake” Roberts get back on that dust, Death Dream and Drugs Dragons will combine forces for a stretch of shows.
A few more locals will spend part of their spring break slopping it up in Kalamazoo, MI, and Buffalo, NY. The Trusty Knife and Crappy Dracula will finally brings their ass-shaking oddness to those cities and elsewhere.
Playing a few Chicago shows in the upcoming weeks are rock ’n’ rollers Certain Stars. Bassist and singer Kyle Hernandez says that while playing two spring shows 90 miles south of Milwaukee might not be a geographical leap to a luxurious locale, it’s a chance, quite simply, to “show Chicago how Milwaukeeans rock.”
“We love the response we get from playing out of town,” Hernandez says. “People seem to appreciate that you care enough about your own music to get out of town and play. It’s about believing in your band and proving yourself to a new audience.”
Bridging seasons and mixing up aspirations along the way are ska punk dudes Number 9 Hard. Yes, they’re looking forward to playing Appleton and Lansing at the end of spring, but they’re “stoked” for their shows across Canada in July, where they anticipate beer and “rad people,” says member Jeremy Mitchell.
Simple pleasures for sure, and likely a big reason why, even for all of spring’s reasons to leave town for central Michigan or scenic Washington, it can’t top summer for tours. Especially if you’re stuck in town during the hot months on one of those afternoon bills playing Wisconsin’s biggest tour stop of them all. That’s right: Sovereign State Days in Winneconne.