The Fun and Frustrations of Eastside Music Tour
More than 80 shows and 30 locations on one street in one day.
The Eastside Music Tour took over Brady Street this weekend, packing coffee shops, bars, and record stores with music fans. Hosted by NEWaukee, the event already has a cult following among local music aficionados, but what’s it like for musical outsiders like me and my friends? We hit the bars and shops on Brady to find out.
6:21 p.m. – I arrive at the Exclusive Company much later than I would have liked (show started at 5:30 p.m.), partly to blame on an agonizingly slow bus ride and partly to blame on putting the finishing touches on our updated layout at Urban Milwaukee (feedback appreciated). Walking in the door of the record store, I am able to hear the last few notes of Zach Pietrini & The Broken Bones. I do the courteous thing and applaud a show I did not hear. Everyone looks like they had a good time, which is fantastic because this is the stage that Urban Milwaukee is sponsoring.
6:32 – I discuss the fundraising efforts for the MilwaukeeHome SXSW stage with MilwaukeeHome founder Melissa Thornton outside of Jack’s American Pub. She’s selling her wares tonight to help fund the cause, and is planning a fundraiser at Turner Hall.
Heading into to meet my friends Brett and Sam, we make our way to the bar for what is to be the first of many discounted Pabst Blue Ribbon’s on the night. No band is currently playing, but The Cavewives start shortly thereafter.
6:58 – The three of us wander over to Club Brady, in hopes of catching Count This Penny, an act out of Madison. We arrive at a choice table, fresh Pabst in hand, to find two DJ’s working extremely hard to look busy. I have never seen two people work so hard to adjust knobs and look engaged and yet hear so little change in the music.
7:10 – The Antics, as I’ve learned they are called, are still DJing with no sign of stopping. What’s the deal with Count This Penny? They were supposed to start at 7, with the Antics starting at 5.
7:15 – Ted Perry is here. Our first Milwaukee celebrity sighting!
7:17 – The DJ’s stop. No doubt Ted Perry’s mere presence is pushing things back on schedule.
7:33 – Count This Penny is starting, sort-of. Check, check, check, repeat. The irony that the Journal Sentinel has some of the top bands of the night in one of the traditional dives of Brady Street starts to set in.
7:44 – More PBR. More check, check, check.
7:55 – Count This Penny finally fires up. I’m enjoying them.
8:14 – Frustrated with the late start of Count This Penny, and the need to show support for the stage we’re sponsoring, our group (now with a few more members) heads to the Exclusive Company to see a show that was scheduled to start at 7:30. We arrive to find that The Living Statues have just wrapped up, which is a definite bummer. I was under the false assumption everyone would play at least a one hour set. I’ve now unintentionally missed both bands at the stage I had a hand in supporting.
9:25 – We wander around the corner to The Nomad World Pub to hear Hewn (mostly because it was the closest bar with a stage). As is becoming some sort of karmic trend for the night, they’re running late. While waiting I run into original NEWaukee supporters, Mark Von Hodenberg and Graham Baxter. Meanwhile, Matt Dorner walks in the door singing the praises of the show we could have seen had we stayed at Jack’s (I begin to think I’m really bad at consuming music in this fashion).
9:45 – Hewn is finally on. Given that we’ve waited so long, some of my friends are antsy to leave already. Me, I’m just scheming to head back to Club Brady at 10:30 to see Vic and Gab. The duo was scheduled to start at 9:30 but that stage was running a hour behind when we were last there.
10:06 – Brett and I meet up with our friend Leslye at the Hi-Hat where we had hoped to catch a few minutes of DJ Romke if he started early. No luck, but that’s expected. We’re killing time until we figure Vic and Gab will start. I talk with Jessica, the fiancee of event organizer Jeremy Fojut, who remarks about going to see P.O.S. I have no idea who that is, but I trust Jesscia’s taste. We head to the tent in the street.
10:10 – The tent (placed just north of Brady on Arlington) is the best venue I’ve seen all night. The stage is elevated. The bar is huge. The whole place has an energy to it. One guy keeps attempting to crowdsurf and failing. P.O.S. is jugging a bottle of something brown someone handed him from the bar.
10:30 – We arrive at Club Brady, just in time to catch the start of Vic and Gab. We think. We couldn’t have been more wrong. Somehow despite running a full hour late earlier in the night, the Club Brady stage has caught up and Vic and Gab have just finished. I’ve now missed more bands then I’ve seen.
10:46 – We head to Jack’s again, meeting up with the rest of the group. We find Jayk playing to a packed house. Real music! Life is good.
11:10 – Half of the group, myself included, decides to pack it in for the night. A quick pit stop at Jimmy John’s and a bunch of us head home. The event was scheduled to end at midnight; I left too early to find out if that actually happened or if they pushed it to bar close.
The Next Day – I wake up with many thoughts on the festival.
- I could use some kind of sampling mechanism before attempting to see all of these bands. I didn’t know anything about most of them.
- The rumors I heard about making it a multi-day event would be a good idea. It’s hard to cram it all in with little knowledge of what you’re doing.
- I hope it’s not nearly as cold or snowy next year. The street definitely was alive, but it’s much easier to imagine something akin to Brady Street Festival if the weather was a bit nicer.
- It would be extremely beneficial if there was something that gave real-time information on what was happening at each stage. NEWaukee should get this, they’re a group that is helping promote Uber which does just that for cab service.
- Avoid shots of Jameson on an empty stomach.
- In hindsight the Antics (the DJ’s at Club Brady) were much better than I originally thought they were. I wish I knew more about what I was seeing at the time.
- Pushing the event over the top and into a roaring success will largely depend on the ability to convert people like my friends into attendees and supporters (they live in the neighborhood and frequent area establishments). Having more recommended lists of performers and stages by genre would be good. They were clueless on who they would want to see.
- I had a good time, but it could have been a great time if I had arrived earlier and picked just a handful of bands I wanted to see.