DJ Hostettler
Cultural Zero

There You Go, white, wrench, conservatory

By - Feb 12th, 2010 12:48 am
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Fig.1: Clockwise from upper left: Matt Slater, Thom Geibel, Dixie Jacobs

Fig.1: Clockwise from upper left: Matt Slater, Thom Geibel, Dixie Jacobs

On Sunday, white, wrench, conservatory. will say goodbye to Milwaukee as they play their final show, sharing the stage with Quinn Scharber, Brief Candles, and IfIHadAHiFi (hi). Frankly, I’m bummed.

The HiFi will turn 10 years old in April. That’s not something that happens to most local bands. Sure, 1956 turned 10 last year, and the Mistreaters have been around forever (even if they’ve slowed down lately). But generally, that’s not how it works. Generally, local band forms; becomes the new flavor of the month because they’re, well, new; puts out a CD; promptly breaks up and forms new ensembles with members of other bands that just broke up as well. With every band this happens to, I wish more and more that it wasn’t the case, because I’m starting to feel a little weird, frankly. At least four times a year I hear someone say “IfIHadAHiFi? They’re still around?” and I feel like the creepy high school graduate who keeps coming back to visit his old teachers (come to think of it, I did that for a few months when college started. Hmmm).

I’ll admit to feeling a perverse satisfaction when a band that annoys me breaks up (pretty sure that every group that “banned” us from Milwaukee after a Shorewood Legion Hall show in 2002 is gone now. HA! WE WIN!), but outliving your enemies is one thing. It’s much less fun when you outlive your friends, and in recent times we’ve seen at least one band of friends dissolve per calendar year.

But let’s not mope. In honor of white, wrench, conservatory.’s final show (at least I won’t have to deal with their infernal punctuation anymore), I present to you my top 5 favorite moments in the history of our two bands (in no particular order):

1. Feb. 14, 2006: wwc’s first show, at the 8th Note Café on the UW-Milwaukee campus. Dixie’s super nervous, and frankly, so am I, because we’re really not sure if our cover of Prince’s “Kiss” is going to work or not (verdict? Eh). After white wrench plays, Dixie asks me how they were, and I very diplomatically tell the truth—that it was loaded with potential.

Fig.2: How the HiFi and wwc do Steel Bridge. Um...yeah.

Fig.2: How the HiFi and wwc do Steel Bridge. Um…yeah.

2. June 2006: The first ever HiFi/wwc trip up to Sturgeon Bay to play the Steel Bridge Songfest. Jackson Effing Browne is in the audience watching wwc, and he walks up to Slater after the set and compliments his guitar playing. At some point in the night they shake hands and Slater drunkenly turns around and exclaims “holy shit! I just shook the hand that punched Darryl Hannah!”

3. On and off from 2007-2010: Dixie and I start to duet on the HiFi song “Success! Success! Success!,” leading to her appearance in our video for the tune. Eventually I return the favor by storming the stage during the white wrench song “Maryanne Faithful,” contributing background vocals in the second half of the song, whether they like it or not. I begin to picture Dixie and me as Milwaukee’s version of Mitch Cohen and Mickey Crabbe from A Mighty Wind, only without all the awkward sexual tension.

Fig.3: Rocking Quenchers in Chicago, October 2008

Fig.3: Rocking Quenchers in Chicago, October 2008

4. October 2008: The wwc/HiFi East Coast tour takes a dark turn when HiFi keyboardist Rev.Ever, after downing a four pack of Four Max and acting as hype man for an unfortunate DJ/Slater karaoke rendition of Paula Abdul’s “Straight Up” in Athens, OH, begins to try fighting Thom and Slater. The night devolves into a nonstop game of Roshambo that the Rev. and his genitals consistently lose. Apparently the first thing that goes through Rev.Ever’s mind the next morning is “what the…is my hand broken?” (Fortunately, it isn’t and we’re able to play the rest of the tour.)

5. This Sunday at Cactus Club.

In the last 4 years I’ve had the distinct pleasure of witnessing my friends develop from a nervous threesome all pushing their comfort envelopes (this was the point of wwc: Thom had never played drums in a band, Slater had never used guitar pedals, and Dixie had never even been in a band) into a confident and forceful group of shoegazers. And I’ve gotten to watch my good friend Dixie blossom from a timid “holy shit, am I on stage?” frontwoman into a stage presence so commanding that I’ve routinely heard other girls in town call her an inspiration. And all three of these goofballs (and late addition Joph Bravo too) have become amazing friends of mine. Our relationship with this band has been a constant reminder to me of what this stupid indie rock crap is supposed to be all about—friends, community, and kicking ass. Requiescat in peace, white, wrench, conservatory. I look forward to playing the final shows of your next bands, too, because god knows our dumb asses will probably still be playing out.

0 thoughts on “Cultural Zero: There You Go, white, wrench, conservatory”

  1. Anonymous says:

    Quote Rev.Ever the next morning “Who punched me in the balls”? I am still mad I didn’t go out with you guys that night, but I had to work, while on tour.

  2. Anonymous says:

    I wear their shirt proudly and will continue to do so in the future.
    They will be missed.

  3. Anonymous says:

    You missed a good one, Chris. DJ and Pencil also dueted on “Crazy Train” (which I wish wish wish there was video of.), Josh and Dixie did “Easy Lover” and I can’t believe they didn’t kick us out of the Smiling Skull.

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