On Friday night at Turner Hall Ballroom, eight Milwaukee bands will pay tribute to a subject near and dear to their hearts: fellow Milwaukee bands.
Starting at 6:30 p.m., Milwaukee Record's Local Coverage concert will celebrate its fourth year smashing together some of the city's best musicians for a night of unpredictable covers, blending new and old together into an incredible Cream City sonic concoction – all for a good cause, with proceeds going toward the Milwaukee Women's Center.
Past editions of the live Milwaukee mashup included bluegrass-y country band Buffalo Gospel trying out the rocking rhythms of Midnight Reruns, soulful vocalist Marielle Allschwang making the hard-hitting rap lyrics of Lorde Fredd33 her own and Tigernite having a breakthrough glorifying GGOOLLDD – combinations wholly unexpected yet made unforgettable, completely Milwaukee made.
This year's lineup features even more one-of-a-kind musical unions, picked last October during a randomly ordered fantasy football-esque draft with all of the selected bands. The groups – from all different levels of experience and genre, from rockers to R&B artists, local mainstays to teenage newcomers – then worked on adapting their selected inspiration for the show, perhaps straight-up covering a song, performing a medley or taking the roots of the material and growing them in a whole new direction.
"I've learned that I have no idea what to expect," said Tyler Maas, Milwaukee Record co-founder and editor, as well as the key figure behind Local Coverage. "Every time you feel like you have a band nailed down, I'm always shocked."
Even though even Maas has no idea what you'll hear Friday night – though he brings the bands together, he has no say in what they play or how they approach the music – we asked the local music insider about what personally excites him about each of these oddball pairings, and why you should embrace the unexpected.
Jaill’s Vincent Kircher playing B-Free
"He had one of the early picks, I believe, and he went for B-Free. And I was just like, ‘Oh, hell yes.’ This is not what I expected but everything I’d hoped for. He will be doing an acoustic set – so I know that, at least. It’ll be the essence of these emotional and powerful songs from a person who has one of the most unique and amazing voices. And having that delivered through one of the more well-known and iconic Milwaukee voices in recent history, that’s an amazing way to open the show."
B-Free playing Lex Allen
"On paper, it makes the most sense of all the ones in the show. But often times, when it comes to doing an impersonation of a person – when you’re making fun of your friend or impersonating your parents – you’re able to do it in a way with elements and nuances that other people might not see. They work with each other; they’re friends. I feel like she will be able to recognize little things that other people won’t and expand upon them in ways you wouldn’t expect or anticipate. With her voice and the backing band she has in place, she’ll knock it dead."
Lex Allen playing Whiskey of the Damned
"He had one of the earlier picks, and that one I was really shocked by when he selected because that seems really hard – like unnecessarily difficult. That seems like the furthest A-to-B pairing of anything in the show, but he walked up to me at the draft and was like, 'I already have it planned out. I have dancers; I have everything.'
"Whiskey of the Damned: I should know how to describe them better, but they’re this mixture of folk, Irish traditionals and outlaw country all in one confusing, rowdy package. And Lex’s voice leading these rowdy drinking songs? I don’t know what to expect, but I have to see it."
Space Raft playing NO/NO
"This is A-to-B two of the more active bands – they regularly tour, they both have albums in the works, they both receive a lot of radio play. That said, they’re in drastically different ends of the music spectrum, so watching this rock band that could’ve been in the ’70s and my dad would’ve loved them – and I love them – do a rock band that could’ve been from the ’80s? You don’t have to know math to know you should hang around when they play."
NO/NO playing Negative/Positive
"They have very little in common except for the forward slash. They [NO/NO] were excited when they drafted them, and I think it’s a really special thing when one of the more well-known, appreciated, locally recognized acts is looking at the youth of the city with enthusiasm. I’ve heard just one very short video sample that they sent, and it’s great.
"Another aspect of the show that I enjoy – and it might sound creepy – is I like watching the bands watch themselves be covered. Often times, I really should be looking at the stage, but I’m looking at the front of the stage where the band is all gathered and they’re enjoying it. So watching Negative/Positive and their parents watching NO/NO do their music I think will be something special."
Negative/Positive playing Space Raft
"They were the number one pick, and they just ran up and said, ‘We want Space Raft.’ Being the number one pick, there wasn’t any doubt they weren’t going to get them, so they’ve obviously worked on it ahead of time. I know they’ve really put a lot of work and a lot of thought into it. That enthusiasm and the extra practice will show."
De La Buena playing Jaill
"De La Buena recently did our Public Domain music video series, and they did 'Scarborough Fair' and made it into this nine-minute Afro-Caribbean amazing experience. During that video, I watched them do it 20 times and I never got sick of it and I was humming it for months. After they picked the music of Jaill, I was like, 'This will have to be the headliner,' because they’re bringing nine or 10 people on stage – the usual instruments, drum and bass and guitar, but there’s also going to be organ and auxiliary percussion things. Watching them reimagine these short, punchy, right-to-the-point, three-minute (maybe) garage songs from one of the biggest bands in Milwaukee’s recent history, that’s worth hanging around for.
"And knowing them, they might just do a medley, just all the way through weaving an entire discography in what maybe sounds like one song. I never know what to expect, but I’m always amazed."
Listening Party playing De La Buena
"With De La Buena playing Jaill, the whole dilemma was how well can a band that size possibly make something of such limited source material. And this is the opposite. How will this three-piece folk band do this 10-piece world music band? The answer is I have no idea."
As much as it is a gigantic cliché to say that one has always had a passion for film, Matt Mueller has always had a passion for film. Whether it was bringing in the latest movie reviews for his first grade show-and-tell or writing film reviews for the St. Norbert College Times as a high school student, Matt is way too obsessed with movies for his own good.
When he's not writing about the latest blockbuster or talking much too glowingly about "Piranha 3D," Matt can probably be found watching literally any sport (minus cricket) or working at - get this - a local movie theater. Or watching a movie. Yeah, he's probably watching a movie.