Joey Grihalva
Review

Crowd Says Yes to Uh Huh Her

Electropop duo gets the audience dancing at Turner Hall.

By - May 7th, 2014 11:39 am
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Uh Huh Her Show at Turner Hall. Photo by Benjamin Wick.

Uh Huh Her Show at Turner Hall. Photo by Benjamin Wick.

Birds circle above the BMO Harris Bradley Center on an unusually brisk Monday night in May. Fourth Street is all but deserted. Is this a vision of downtown Milwaukee in the near future, if the Bucks depart?

I was shaken from this frightening thought by a steady beat pulsing inside Turner Hall Ballroom, the only sign of life on the block. It was the sounds of DJ Kim Anh, the opening act for LA-based electropop duo Uh Huh Her.

After arriving and finding a seat at a table in the back, my friend and I disagreed on the audience turn out. He (a musician) thought it was a pretty decent crowd for a band with no significant radio play on a Monday night. I thought it was paltry, but the size of the ballroom’s ceilings do make the room seem bigger. I suggested to him that the Pabst Group consider adding a smaller venue to their roster, considering they’ve expanded on the opposite spectrum with a couple of shows at the Summerfest grounds.

Once Camila Grey, Leisha Haley and their drummer sauntered onstage and the table crowd pushed onto the dance floor, it became hard to imagine a smaller venue not being over capacity. What the audience lacked in numbers they more than made up in enthusiasm. This might have something to do with Haley’s notoriety from her character on Showtime’s “The L Word,” film and commercial roles, as well as being a member of 90s alt band The Murmurs. Grey’s resume ain’t too shabby either; she’s worked with Dr. Dre, Busta Rhymes, Tricky, had session vocal work in films and television, and was a member of the band Mellowdrone.

The audience may have shown so much love simply because it was Uh Huh Her’s Milwaukee debut. After the opening number the applause echoed loudly through the ballroom. Grey bantered with the crowd, pronouncing the name of our city as Alice Cooper infamously does in Wayne’s World. Later there was a bit of awkwardness in between songs, which Haley broke by asking if the audience would be willing to circle up and start “a dance break-off,” also referencing parachute pants. The dyed-blond bassist was showing her age, but it got the crowd moving.

The set list was heavy on new material from Future Souls, released at the end of March. “We’re testing out the waters in Milwaukee,” Grey gleefully remarked. A more recognizable performance was “Same High,” off the soundtrack to the 2010 film The Kids Are All Right. The good vibes reached a pitch when they laid down their hit single “Not A Love Song,” from their 2008 debut full-length Common Reaction. There’s a handful of strong tracks on the new album that could eventually match “Not A Love Song,” especially a smoothed out groove called “Shiiine.”

When they returned from their short break before the encore Grey and Haley did not pick their guitars back up, finishing fully electronic. I thought about the other electropop groups I’ve seen recently, including CHVRCHES a couple weeks ago in Denver. This (considerably younger) Scottish trio features only one member playing an analog instrument and I have to admit I appreciated Uh Huh Her’s old school approach to a youth-heavy genre.

The lineup at the merch table post-show was a testament to Uh Huh Her’s small but passionate Milwaukee fan base. Walking through that line gave me another vision of the not-so-distant future, but this one was much brighter. It’s a considerably warmer day and seagulls circle above the lakefront. Another lesbian indie pop duo, Tegan and Sara, is on a Summerfest stage in front of a brimming, blissed out crowd. June just can’t come soon enough.

Photos from the Concert

 

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