The freezing air hits my face as Ricardo and I exit Hi-Hat Lounge on Brady Street. We have just exited the throng of people all clamoring to get their Eastside Music Tour tickets on the second floor of the restaurant.
The Eastside Music Tour, which took place on Saturday, March 1, brought more than 70 bands to Brady Street.
It still strikes me as odd that people are dedicated enough to attend a festival in freezing temperatures. Regardless of the weather the day gave us, Ricardo and I trudge ahead towards our first destination, World Of Beer.
We arrive from the cold and our noses and hands slowly regain feeling. People are everywhere. It is a mixed crowd, a blend of young, middle-aged, as well as older people. They chat away happily, clutching their beer as though it were their life force. The energy in the bar is overflowing with excitement.
We find a spot right in the middle of the bar, in perfect view of the stage. We watch as members of the next band, Outside Lions, begin to set up. They are typical Milwaukee guys, wearing fitted jeans and plaid, and one band member sports a Riverwest Stein T-shirt. They are relaxed and unaffected by the many pairs of eyes set on them.
Several minutes later, the Outside Lions strike up their first tune. It’s a good song, with great drums and solid guitar chords, but the lead singer is drowned out by both the music and the rest of the noise in the bar. A minor setback for an otherwise entertaining band. After several songs, Ricardo and I set out for the next stage.
We are drawn back to Hi-Hat and the immense tent that has been constructed directly outside, courtesy of 88Nine. Two blue-jacketed security people flank the entrance, and give us neutral nods as we pass between them.
The inside of the tent is even more enormous, with a rectangular bar set up in the middle, and the stage at the far end. Between the stage and the bar, lights have been erected and shine in rays of purple and blue upon the stage.
The band about to play is known as Kane Place Record Club, a band whose music is a mix of pop, soul, a hint of ska and Beatles-inspired rhythms. They are dressed in skinny jeans, sweaters and button-ups.
One guitar player has hung a multicolored handkerchief from his instrument. Not having the pleasure of seeing them perform before, both Ricardo and I approach with apprehension. We both know that bands like this can go either way.
The first song shatters our worries. We are instantly wrapped up in the energy and skin-tinglingly good vocals. The bodies in the audience are already moving and swaying, enchanted by the music and any reminder that the stage is outside is forgotten.
I soon find myself dancing with the rest of the crowd, all sense of composure tossed into the air along with the red confetti shooting out the front of the stage. The hits continue and everyone, myself included, is applauding and screaming for more by the end of their performance.
The rest of the night is spent hopping from one place to another. The cold wind continues to sting my face, but the beer now flowing through my system makes it more tolerable. I am still reeling from Kane Place Record Club and am eager to see what else the evening’s events have in store for me.
Although the temperatures were cold, the emotions and excitement at the East Side Music Tour kept me warm all night. It was a fantastic display of unique song-writing, excellent stage presence and outstanding talent.
This event is a reminder that even though Milwaukee may not be the biggest city in the country, it is still recognizable for its musical brilliance.