Photo Sara Bill
After months of preparation and anticipation, Milwaukee stalwarts of scramble-pop, The Fatty Acids, were finally ready to formally release its latest, greatest (and potentially breakout-conveying) album, Boléro. Already a special occasion for the locals, the expectations for the release show were vaulted to epic status when the show was rescheduled and moved from Turner Hall to the historic, high-occupancy confines of the Pabst Theater (rarefied air for any Milwaukee act).
Friday night, the Fatties celebrated its new effort in style — its trademark oddball style, complete with green suits, bouncy balls, a wind dancer honoring a Wisconsin sports hero, and oodles of great music.
Following Sat. Nite Duets’ first ever Pabst performance — not counting Stephen Strupp, who boasted he performed a musical on the same stage in high school — to start things off, Faux Fir (adorned in all white) delighted the growing lower level crowd with its time-tested synth-pop standards and cuts from its new cassette, Failure Prose, and excited cries of “We’re at the Pabst!” between songs. After the openers departed, the guests of honor came out in skin-tight green body suits. As they launched into Leftover Monsterface’s “Creature,” background dancers — one adorned in a Speedo and another wearing a ninja costume fashioned out of Pabst Blue Ribbon boxes — danced interpretatively and bounced Superballs and beach balls into the throngs of people swaying at the foot of the stage.
The early goings of the set were exclusively populated with songs from the band’s first two albums, including favorites “Howl,” “Hiroshima” and “Over Mitts” (in which a distorted, green-screened version of the band’s music video was shown on the monitor behind them). However, the swaying of a gigantic inflatable wind dancer bearing a likeness to Aaron Rodgers signaled the Boléro material, as the band performed rowdy album-opener “Girls and Gods” and the remainder of the record in its entirety.
While the massive Rodgers wind dancer struggled to stay upright (at times, falling atop guitarist/auxiliary musician Myles Coyne), The Fatty Acids were steady, and shone in the moment with its strongest set I’ve ever seen them play. Of course, having accompaniment with a bongo player, background singers, videos of creepy child clowns looming overhead, and hilarious dancers didn’t hurt the evening’s entertainment. Between-song interactions were rare, but true to the band’s sense of humor. Thanking their parents, singer Josh Evert incited a “Moms!” chant and one for “Blue Dukes”— the mascot of Whitefish Bay, where bassist Derek De Vinney teaches — to honor the students in attendance.
When album-ender “Human Tetris Bodies” was over, the Fatties completed the album-era sandwich with a few more oldies and goodies such as “Astrovan,” “Marks We Leave” and a choreographed dance during “Unscreened.” The building “Mr. Supportive” put the cherry atop a zany, true-to-form night that’s sure to be on the shortlist of best local shows to happen this year.