Recap: Bully Served Up Furious Grunge Performance at Sold-Out Milwaukee Show

Recap: Bully Served Up Furious Grunge Performance at Sold-Out Milwaukee Show

A last-minute change from Cactus Club to Anodyne Coffee left a bitter taste in some ticket holders’ mouths, but the furious grunge performance served up quite a treat regardless of location.

It’s special to see an up-and-coming band in a small, packed club venue before they’re off playing more expansive theaters and ballrooms. Bay View’s Cactus Club advertises these momentous occasions with the “before-they-were-famous-they-played-here” show posters lining its walls.

That’s why when Nashville grunge group Bully announced a show at the 200ish-person capacity Cactus Club, it felt like one of these can’t miss performances. But in reality, the band, which released its sophomore record Losing on Sub Pop in October and had played the Bay View club twice before, already warranted playing a bigger space.

Bully’s Cactus Club performance for Saturday, Jan. 20 had foreseeably sold out a month before the show. To accommodate fans, a second performance was announced on Sunday, Jan. 28 — that show sold out as well. Then, a mere day before the band was scheduled to take the stage this past Saturday, the venue was moved to the more spacious Anodyne Coffee in Walker’s Point “due to high demand.”

While it was a head-scratching choice to announce a second show and then switch the first show’s location so close to the show date, many smug complaints were hurled online by ticket-holders who seemed more interested in seeing a sold-out atmosphere at Cactus Club than the band itself. It was not a good look.

But any sanctimonious internet rants seemed to melt away when Bully singer Alicia Bognanno finally took the stage, shredding through the raucous two-minute Losing opener — which could have been the theme of the night — “Feel the Same.” Other than the extra room to breathe and the easy accessibility to the bar, Anodyne Coffee — a tranquil cafe where you normally can see live folk music — filled in perfectly for Cactus Club for this loud rock show. Playfully, the band’s guitarist Clayton Parker wore a red “Cactus” t-shirt, alluding to the show’s original location.

The sound in the wood-paneled room was pristine, and by the time the band ripped through the vicious closing cover of “Lightsabre Cocksucking Blues” from early 2000s hardcore band McLusky, anyone excited to see Bully could really have had no complaint about the change in venue.



Kevin is a freelance writer residing in Milwaukee. He’s contributed to The Shepherd Express, Third Coast Daily, Pop Matters and the sadly now-defunct A.V. Club Milwaukee. He looks forward to forging a deeper connection with the city’s impressive music scene during his gig as a Music Notes blogger. His talents include music criticism, riding a bicycle, drinking tasty beers and a crafty croquet swing. His weaknesses comprise Jean-Claude Van Damme movies, professional wrestling and his ever-growing record collection. He’s in desperate need to find more physical (and hard drive) space for the exceptional albums Milwaukee musicians keep churning out.