Jeramey Jannene

The Fun and Frustrations of Eastside Music Tour

More than 80 shows and 30 locations on one street in one day.

By - Mar 4th, 2014 01:59 pm
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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.

Steph Salvia, ‎Executive Director for Brady Street Business Improvement District. Photo by Michael Horne.

Steph Salvia, ‎Executive Director for Brady Street Business Improvement District. Photo by Michael Horne.

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 calledare 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.

Steve Roche grabbing a beer, possibly a PBR. Photo by Michael Horne.

Steve Roche grabbing a beer, possibly a PBR. Photo by Michael Horne.

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.

Inside the tent during the Eastside Music Tour. Photo by Michael Horne.

Inside the tent during the Eastside Music Tour. Photo by Michael Horne.

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.

0 thoughts on “The Fun and Frustrations of Eastside Music Tour”

  1. Anonymous says:

    I was scheduled to be out of town last weekend, so hadn’t fully clued in to the event in advance. My travel plans changed last minute, so I decided to take advantage of some of the music I’d noticed was playing. I rustled up friends to meet me at Casablanca to hear de la Buena at 7:30. I did a yoga class down the street from 6-7:30 and arrived 20 minutes into the show to my friends desperately texting me–“Can you get us in?” “We’re downstairs.” “Help!” What? Can’t we just pay a cover?? Apparently, there were wrist bands. No big deal, we’ll go get one. Except that no one could tell us WHERE. So we fidgeted downstairs, doing a little salsa-ing between tables in hopes that the bouncer would feel sorry for us (or grow tired of us) and let us in. He did not. We left, dejected. And ran into event organizer Ian Abston, who magnanimously gave us wrist bands. We RAN back to Casablanca and got in a hot 15 minutes of Latin dancing. We stayed for Fever Marlene, which was also a great show. My take-away? FANTASTIC EVENT! GREAT JOB. Having been part of producing a major music event out of the country, I know how difficult the logistics are. This was really well done. Brady Street was crammed with festive music-goers. I thought the time of year was perfect–early March, we’re all itching for a festival. By summer, the scene is so crowded, you have to stay up 24 hours a day to take it all in. My suggestion only would be to call out on the promo info that you HAVE to get wrist bands in advance. If it’s possible to buy them night-of, then staff at venues (including bouncers) should be given that info. Would it have been possible to be selling wrist bands at venues? Or at a couple of locations on the street? Also, apart from bands we knew, we had no clue what else to go hear. I agree, Michael–band sampling, a little description of the type of music and perhaps an app or something day-of for timing updates. But these are tweaks. This was a huge event to pull off and they did it and I can’t wait for next year! Great job!

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