Art Bar’s MishMash Fest got off to a dangerously hot start last July when a speaker burst into flames during a manic performance by The Fatty Acids on the fest’s opening night. In his attempt to put out the fire, organizer Don Krause inadvertently filled the air with noxious powder from a fire extinguisher, forcing the capacity crowd into the street even after the fire had blown out on its own. “We laughed about it later,” says Krause, “and this year we’ll be selling new MishMash T-shirts with a speaker on fire.”
That happy-go-lucky attitude will permeate every aspect of MishMash 2012, which takes place Friday and Saturday at Art Bar in Riverwest. In only its second year, the festival has expanded to include a court of food trucks, two outdoor bars (serving Art Bar’s homemade brew: “Skip and Bike Naked”), and a pinball tournament with a grand prize of up to $200. All that, of course, is secondary to the impressive lineup of local bands spread across the festival’s two days. While searching for ways to improve on last year’s fest, Krause hired Kurt Raether of The Fatty Acids to use his knowledge of the local scene in building a stronger lineup, and the results are evident. The bill reads like the Linneman’s gig of your dreams, featuring well-established favorites (The Fatty Acids, Slow Walker) along with those that are slowly but surely gaining attention (Coo Woo, All These Runners).
The tireless Myles Coyne, who represents two groups slated to perform Friday night, took notice, praising the lineup as “no hogwash, just kick-ass bands,” and adding that he is especially looking forward to Saturday night’s performance by grungy trash-punks Slow Walker.
Coyne himself has been a busy man as of late. He just completed a Midwest tour with Animals In Human Attire, who will do their noisy mischief on MishMash’s outdoor stage at 8 p.m. Friday. His other project, a folk/pop outfit called Myles Coyne and the Rusty Nickel Band, recently announced plans to release an LP through Milwaukee’s own Top Five Records. They will kick off the fest on Friday at 3 p.m. This will be Coyne’s first time playing MishMash with either project, but his one and only performance at Art Bar with AIHA seems to indicate that they’ll fit right in: “My bass broke in the middle of a tune, so I threw off my strings and finished singing [guitarist] Jack’s vocal part,” he says. Now there’s a guy you want by your side during a Fatty Acids speaker-fire.
Two MishMash veterans – Uncle Larry and The Fatty Acids – will round out Friday’s set, along with the upstart Fossils. Saturday will feature two bands fresh off Summerfest slots – Coo Woo and All These Runners – as well as Crappy Dracula’s gut-busting comedy-music routine and the thunderous Slow Walker.
The fest falls on a busy weekend in Milwaukee that includes the Riverwest 24 bike race and the Brady Street Festival, but the diverse traffic plays right into Don Krause’s plans. “MishMash is a cooking term meaning a little bit of this, a litte bit of that,” he says. “I thought it would be the best way to describe what I wanted our block party to be.” Last year’s fest came out a bit overcooked, but he may have just perfected the recipe this time around.
July 27-28. Art Bar. 722 E. Burleigh St., 414-372-7880, artbar-riverwest.com.