DJ Hostettler
Cultural Zero

Welcome Back, Fan-Belt

By - Apr 1st, 2010 12:22 am
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Holy crap, look who’s back? Don’t call it a comeback—well, ok, call it a comeback, but it’s not like we were dead or anything…just resting. Hi. Welcome back to I’m one of about 7 or so of your cordial co-hosts. If you’re an old friend, you probably notice we look a lot different. If you’re new, you’re probably thinking “oh, for Christ–another music blog in Milwaukee?” Aren’t the AV Club and Muzzle of Bees and Seizure Chicken, et al enough?

Well, no, actually. OK, maybe. But we like to think we’re going to be different.

A few weeks ago, when the AV Club broke the news of our revival, a few of the comments on the article voiced a lot of frustrations about local music coverage that we Fan-Belters share. A commenter named “Stephen” (at least he used a real name) said the following: “Just another local blog where otherwise unemployed ‘critics’ can review the latest musical masterpieces from their hipster friends. Another blog that will ignore everything created outside of the Riverwest/Bayview/Eastside realm.” Harsh! And understandable, really. If there’s one criticism I’ve heard about local Milwaukee media that I agree with without hesitation, it’s that a lot of the people covering Milwaukee music are wearing genre blinders, whether it’s intentional or not—and in all honesty, I don’t think it’s intentional. The fact is that, as Steve Hyden wrote in an AV Club blog post recently, “writing about local music isn’t making anybody rich. It’s almost always done as a labor of love by big music fans committed to spreading the word about what really excites them in town.” Bloggers—including our intrepid Fan-Belt staff—don’t get paid to do this stuff. It’s not our day job. Heck, Erin Wolf and I are running this show for free. We just love the music, maaan.

But that’s where the criticisms come in. When people are committed to writing about what excites them, they end up ignoring the stuff that doesn’t thrill them as much. That’s all well and good; their blogs, their rules, and they do a great job! But we at Fan-Belt aspire to do more. We realize that, yes, the majority of music coverage in Milwaukee is spent on bands from the East Side/Riverwest/Bayview area, and that means punk and indie bands (and the majority of THAT coverage seems to be devoted to alt-country and beardo folk, but never mind that now). And hey, the majority of our writers are part of that scene. For whatever reason, most of the people with the passion and the outlets for writing in Milwaukee are people who are into that stuff. Meanwhile, hip-hop, goth/industrial, and local metal generally get the shaft.

So we’re going to try to change that.

Yes, we’re going to cover lots of crazy Riverwest basement shows and gigs in Bayview bars, but we’re going to branch out. We’ve got some dudes lined up who are excited to keep tabs on local hip-hop, and one writer who’s got her fingers the local goth/industrial scene (but we’re looking for more! If you know your local hip-hop, industrial or metal—or anything else for that matter—email us!). This is our sworn goal—to cover the Milwaukee music that no one else is covering. And we’re going to do that by recruiting people that are excited about the music no one else is covering.

As to that second point from “Stephen”—the “latest musical masterpieces from their hipster friends” thing—well, let’s lay it out there right now. Milwaukee’s not exactly New York or Chicago (thank god), and in a small town like ours, it’s impossible to find a writer that’s not multitasking or who’s not friends with local musicians. With a few exceptions, most of our writers play in bands, and as a result, you’ll likely end up hearing about them here (hell, I get called out constantly for pimping my own band on the internet—hey, the squeaky wheel gets the grease, as Hyden pointed out in that rebuttal). Heck, you think political writers aren’t pals with politicians? So the sooner we get over it, the sooner we can get to covering what excites us (which—and this may shock you—isn’t always what our friends are doing. I have plenty of friends in town who are making music I just don’t dig. It happens. It’s ok).

Anyway. It’s good to be back. Today we’re kicking things off with Brian Whitney’s inaugural “This Way for the Gas” column, in which he spouts off about the State of Milwaukee Music Today; the first chapter of Kathy Nichols’ “Bands of Future Past” series, where she’ll be documenting the classic Milwaukee music of yesterday of which you as a resident of our fine city should really be aware  (she opens with a visit to a documentary about now-defunct Madison institution Smart Studios); and Jeb Ebben’s recap of Monday night’s Psychedelic Horseshit/Aluminum Knot Eye show at Circle A. We’re just getting warmed up, yo. Let’s do this.

0 thoughts on “Cultural Zero: Welcome Back, Fan-Belt”

  1. Anonymous says:

    Hurrah! Go get ’em, DJ. — Strini

  2. Anonymous says:

    I like this attitude. Keep it up.

  3. Anonymous says:

    We’re so flippin’ excited around here, the energy is making the whole joint vibrate. My knees are knocking. Or maybe I need some breakfast… Either way, w00t!

  4. Anonymous says:

    YAY! Welcome back Fan-Belt– can’t wait to learn more about the goth/industrial music scene.

  5. Anonymous says:

    It’s your first day, and I’ve already written an irritated comment on one of your stories. You must be doing something right!

    Best of luck, dude.


  6. Anonymous says:

    Welcome back guys. 🙂 Big ups.

  7. Anonymous says:


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