After years of wandering exploration, Fever Marlene returned to Milwaukee in 2006 to become one of the city's most genuine local bands. They've recorded under a self-created label, in a self-created studio and accordingly, Fever Marlene made their local appearance on the Summerfest grounds tonight.
Despite looming clouds and the ever threatening possible drizzle, Fever Marlene's Scott Starr and Kevin Dunphy carried on at the U.S. Cellular stage tonight. Their new album, "White China," introduces a more introspective Fever Marlene. Perhaps the result of years of working to unearth a distinctive sound, "White China" exposes the intricacy of musical talent and philosophical depth within this small two-member band.
Last year's "Civil War" release brought Fever Marlene their initial national attention. Tonight, they played a mix of old and new; pleasing the crowd with every selection and electrifying fans who clearly revel in their live performances.
Their sound is complex; at times laying electro samples over rock-pop beats and revealing a lyrical sound that could be called mainstream alternative if the words weren't so strikingly intelligent and imaginative. The lyrics stand on more than just an ability to fit the chord; they keep listeners pondering their meaning, their source and their origin.
The band's formation in 2003 coincided with a reemergence of indie label garage rock bands finally gaining label appeal and radio airplay. While Fever Marlene's sound is more electro pop than rock, their live show validated the influential role of bands like The Yardbirds and The White Stripes. The music has the allure of a habit-forming listen but the audible consciousness and expressive intent of tonight's show makes "White China" much more than simply a week-long listen.
A quick visit to Fever Marlene's MySpace page shows a list of influences literally hundreds of artists long, recognizing an assortment of genres, decades and degrees of fame. The list includes a profusion of musicians from singer/songwriters such as Roy Orbison and Elliott Smith to UK bands like the Sex Pistols and The Kooks. After a glance down the ongoing list, one thing is obvious; these guys like to listen to music almost as much as they love to make it.
Their love of music was palpable tonight as Starr and Dunphy joke with one another on stage; exhibiting a comfort and seeming telepathic thought process that allows them to play off each other and compensate accordingly. Their balance is almost addictive and although difficult to explain, tonight's live show displayed it perfectly.
OnMilwaukee.com staff writer Maureen Post grew up in Wauwatosa. A lover of international and urban culture, Maureen received a bachelor’s degree in sociology from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
After living on the east side of Madison for several years, Maureen returned to Milwaukee in 2006.
After a brief stint of travel, Maureen joined OnMilwaukee.com as the city’s oldest intern and has been hooked ever since. Combining her three key infatuations, Milwaukee’s great music, incredible food and inspiring art (and yes, in that order), Maureen’s job just about fits her perfectly.
Residing in Bay View, Maureen vehemently believes the city can become fresh and new with a simple move across town.