Local musicians protest the president, The Fatty Acids are back, and LUXI's LP reigns.
10. Summerfest’s new construction plans unveiled
In addition to the renovations to the Miller Lite Oasis Stage announced last September, Milwaukee World Festival Inc. released plans for a new amphitheater structure to take the place of the current Marcus Amphitheater on the Summerfest grounds. The new venue will cost between $30-$35 million, will seat 18,000 with an extra 5,000 capacity in the lawn area (about the same as the current theater) and will be sponsored by American Family Insurance. While plans are still tentative, construction is scheduled to begin in 2019 with the new addition ready for Summerfest 2020.
9. Big month for concert announcements
Music lovers fist pumped extra hard this month with the announcement of Patti Smith’s first show in Milwaukee since the 1970s. As an added bonus, the singer/poet/artist/punk rock icon will perform her seminal art punk debut album Horses at the Milwaukee Theatre on March 9. Also announced this month was The xx headlining The Rave. The English electro-rock band comes on April 29 behind their latest record, I See You. Finally, on February 29, dance club Mad Planet hosts Coolio for a retro night dance party and meet in greet with the ‘90s rapper. He will also perform a live set.
8. And not too shabby for notable performances, either
January is usually a dry month for shows. Local bands often take the time to rest and reset. But this past month was a big exception—simply hosting the mammoth five-day music and arts festival Riverwest FemFest was a major haul. More than 60 bands, spoken word artists and performance artists contributed to the third edition of the fest. While the city still has a ways to go, the festival helped to champion the significant contributions that woman have made to the local arts scene.
7. Local Coverage puts on its best edition yet
Local Coverage, the 10-band showcase where local bands cover other local bands, can often seem uneven. Quite frankly, some groups take the task more seriously than others. This year’s event, the third total and second at Turner Hall Ballroom, felt strong and balanced. The stand-out set came near the middle of the show, as Marielle Allschwang somehow effortlessly weaved Lorde Fredd33’s braggadocio rap stylings into her signature brooding folk music.
6. Klassik revives Alverno Uncovered at Turner Hall
Finally, the best one-off performance of the month came from local emcee Klassik, who curated a reinterpretation of A Tribe Called Quest at Turner Hall Ballroom with a set that rekindled the defunct Alverno Presents series and breathed new life and immediacy to the seminal hip hop group.
5. Local musicians protest, process the Trump presidency
In January, Milwaukee artists made their opposition to the incoming administration known. Hello Death released “Tin House” on Inauguration Day, a track which tackles institutional racism across the country, Vincent VanGREAT premiered his music video for UnGREATful album cut “Radical,” a brash song that makes its anti-dirty-cop, anti-Trump stance immediately clear, and a new UNINTIMIDATED protest compilation will move its aim from Scott Walker toward the new president.
4. REYNA premieres another new single
It’s been quite a busy year since the sister power pop duo of Vic and Gab returned as synth pop group REYNA. The new outfit has teased its bubbly, synthesizer heavy sound quite a bit, with infectious ‘80s inspired tracks like “Spill Your Colors,” “Ink on My Skin” and “Kill Me.” In January, the band premiered another new track, “MATINEE.”
3. Roll down the car windows because Platinum Boys release 7-inch
It may still be January, but Platinum Boys’ catchy new single, “New Kind of Love,” (out on Maximum Pelt) just begs to be cranked in a car with the windows rolled down.
2. The Fatty Acids return with new music, announce album release
On 2013’s Bolero, The Fatty Acids’ idiosyncratic, shambolic pop collage hit you from different angles at once. That album makes me nostalgic for the summer of 2014 when it seemed like those bombastic tunes emanated from seemingly every outdoor music festival that year. In January, the band returned in much more laid-back fashion. These three new cuts, released in advance of the forthcoming full-length, Dogs of Entertainment (due out February 21 on Gloss Records), show a matured, introspective group that’s still discovering new sounds.
1. LUXI shines on pensive, late night electro-pop record
Producer LUXI has been releasing music on Bandcamp at a steady clip over the past few years. Her latest, Geometric Universe, is the best electro-pop album that’s come out of the city in a long time. The record feels like a dark maze, weaving an uncertain path that continually sends the listener into different directions. Perhaps most impressive, the album accomplishes the difficult task of remaining revealing and personal while also feeling dark and sinister.