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 April 28, 2016
We are deep into spring now, whether or not the weather is playing along, and being Milwaukeeans we can't wait to get outside and enjoy the fun months. Here are seven postcard images showing our forefathers letting loose in old Milwaukee...
Published April 27, 2016
Last year, the city approved a plan by Maures Development Group to redevelop a set of buildings, including the Henry Koch-designed former Garfield Avenue School, into mixed-income housing, a new America's Black Holocaust Museum and more. What's up?
Published April 26, 2016
Musician Gary Myers spent a number of years playing in many Milwaukee clubs with his bands The Night Beats, The Darnells and The Cashmeres (Mojo Men, later The Portraits). Fortunately, he also took photographs of the places where he performed.
Published April 25, 2016
The timing of a couple press releases today brings up the question of whether or not the images showing a revamped The Shops of Grand Avenue embrace diversity.
Published April 25, 2016
After putting together a design team to look at ways to transform The Shops of Grand Avenue, the property's owners today released a series of renderings showing ways the mall could be converted into a mix of large office spaces, retail - including a grocery store - and more.
Published April 21, 2016
Shortly after Prince's sudden and tragic death early this afternoon, OnMilwaukee met up with Victor DeLorenzo, who had a fun story and a few thoughts to share about the late musical icon.
Published April 21, 2016
While the site of the new Downtown Transit Center - at Michigan Street and Lincoln Memorial Drive - had previously been a surface parking lot, some skeptical Milwaukeeans thought a bus depot was ill-suited to Milwaukee's lakefront. Now, it's about to disappear.
Published April 20, 2016
There are eight MPS high schools that rank in the top 32 of Wisconsin high schools, according to U.S. News & World Report and The Washington Post.
Published April 19, 2016
The drawings Milwaukee landscape architect Annette Hoyt Flanders created for the Maryland Avenue School are works of art. What became of these plans and the roughly three-acre site on the city's East Side?
Published April 17, 2016
A number of new hotels are on the horizon for Milwaukee, but the new Kimpton property -- the first in town -- is among the most anticipated. The Journeyman, on the corner of Broadway and Chicago, should be open by late June. Here are some features attracting the most attention.