Anyone involved in the Milwaukee music scene in the last 30 years likely remembers postering. Despite mags like Express and The Crazy Shepherd and Loose and the rest, the best way to get the word out about your gig was with a poster stapled up around the East Side.
After all, the East Siders were likely your crowd and slathering Brady Street and North Avenue with your posters was just the ticket.
Everyone did it, from the clubs themselves (like The Palms, for example, which featured multiple shows on a single poster) to the bands. Postering was as much a part of playing a gig as booking, sound check, performance and load out.
After putting together the master, there was the trip to Clark Graphics -- in my day -- loading up the staple gun and, finally, hitting the streets. It was ritualistic, it was fun and there was an unspoken etiquette (please don't poster over another band's poster if the show isn't yet over; although if they over-posted the neighborhood leaving no space for anyone else, one could feel justified in covering a few).
There were also poster collectors like Lars Kvam, whose stash must have numbered in the thousands. And there was a certain thrill in adding your poster atop the layers of previous posters melded into the light posts of the East Side.
The examples were wide ranging, from Eric Blowtorch's expressionistic posters drawn in marker or pen or painted in water colors to the more typical clip art style. Attentive fans could spot a specific band's posters from down the street, since many bands had a favorite font or image or style.
At least until the cops decided to enforce an anti-poster ordinance that killed the subculture. Before that, the only was risk was having the then-owner of Vitucci's catch you postering the pole in front of his tavern's entrance.
Local musician and videographer Ron Faiola has launched the Milwaukee Rock Posters Web site with examples dating back to to the halcyon days of Cream City punk.
There are examples from venues like Yano's, The Starship, The Palms and Lincoln Arcade and bands like Violent Femmes, The Oil Tasters and The Laytons as well as out of town bands like Gang of Four, Flipper and Sonic Youth.
Poster Boy said: Nice article. I wonder if Lars still has his stash? The site can be found here, btw: www.milwaukeerockposters.com
Julie said: I was a poster puter-upper back in '80-'81 for the Metropole, YSL Film Society (UWM) and the occasional Starship gig. Trudging for miles through knee deep snow, wielding my trusty staple gun and satchel full of posters, all the while dodging cops and charming store owners--now THERE was a job a girl could love! Plenty of fresh air, excitement and oftentimes, damn good art. Kudos to Ron on a job well done.
Disclaimer: Please note that Facebook comments are posted through Facebook and cannot be approved, edited or declined by OnMilwaukee.com. The opinions expressed in Facebook comments do not necessarily reflect those of OnMilwaukee.com or its staff.
Recent Articles & Blogs by Bobby Tanzilo
Published Feb. 6, 2016
Milwaukee is and has always been America's beer capital, so it makes perfect sense that the country's first African American brewery was born here thanks to Theodore Mack, Henry Crosby and their cohorts.
Published Feb. 5, 2016
The '50s might seem like light years away, but, really, you can get there in under an hour, by checking out some of these classic dining spots - including some drive-ins with car hops - in Kenosha.
Published Feb. 5, 2016
Despite the fact that it's cold outside, I wake up in the middle of the night a lot these days thinking about frozen custard. That's because I'm co-authoring a book about this delicacy at the moment and it's consuming me even more than I consume custard, which is saying something.
Published Feb. 1, 2016
Now that the Tippecanoe Library revamp is complete, attention is turning fully toward a mixed-use development that will replace the Mill Road branch. Here are some facts about the planned new library development at 7717 W. Good Hope Rd.
Published Jan. 29, 2016
Two turntables and a microphone has morphed into a laptop. But not all club DJs have given vinyl the toss. We caught up with Steven Watkins, who DJs at numerous venues around town, playing a variety of music to ask him about working as an "unplugged" turntablist.
Published Jan. 27, 2016
We're celebrating unplugged week here at OnMilwaukee - ironic, I know - but it's a perfect reminder that there is plenty to get out and do in this town if you'd just put the damn phone down for a minute (yes, guilty as charged). Here are six museums and shows worth checking out right now...
Published Jan. 26, 2016
Another remnant of old Milwaukee will soon disappear from the landscape as workers begin to deconstruct the four-story, 16-flat Vermont, 610 E. Mason St., to make way for Northwestern Mutual's 33-story, more than $100 million development that will occupy nearly the entire block.
Published Jan. 25, 2016
Each year on Jan. 25, Scotland and Scot-o-philes and poetry fans celebrate Burns Night to mark the birthday of the legendary voice of Caledonia, Robert Burns. Get in the spirit with some single malts from Islay.
Published Jan. 25, 2016
Has a book as gripping and engaging as Nicholas Petrie's crime novel, "The Drifter," ever been written about Milwaukee? Interweaving terrorism, homelessness, veterans and Riverwest, the book is a compelling page-turner.
Published Jan. 23, 2016
South Milwaukee native Lauren Kleppin, a professional runner who trains in Arizona, was on hand for the debut of the PNC Milwaukee Running Festival las autumn. We took that opportunity to ask Kleppin for some advice for runners.