"Rebel Stage Spotlight" is an OnMilwaukee-exclusive series of interviews with bands that will perform on The Rebel Stage during Summerfest. The Rebel Stage – located along the lakefront, directly to the east of the Harley-Davidson Roadhouse stage – is a completely independent venue that hosts more than 90 bands during the Big Gig and is staffed entirely by volunteers. Rebel Stage manager, Eoin McCarthy, hand picked the line-up from more than 2,000 submissions.
This is the second year the world’s only non-ironic polka hip-hop band, the November Criminals, will play the Rebel Stage.
"I, for one, am stoked," says Evan Maruszewski (aka NTSC), who plays the melodeon and raps in the band, which also includes members Brüemeister and Spade One.
November Criminals play tonight, Tuesday, July 5, at 9 p.m. OnMilwaukee recently tracked them down to talk Summerfest and making a scene.
OnMilwaukee: What do you like about playing on the Rebel Stage and why is it an asset for Summerfest?
NTSC: Last year, we were the last band on an all-metal day at the stage. It was nuts. We're not an easy band for a lot of people to digest, but the metal heads got into it. That's part of the strength of the Rebel Stage. It showcases music a lot of people would never otherwise hear and see. Summerfest, for being in Milwaukee, can't really show off what makes the city truly unique. It's got to do what it does, which is court headliners. The Rebel Stage, on the other hand, can really represent local music. I love their motto: "Make a scene."
How long have you been together, and how would you describe your music?
We've been a band since 2011 and kind of a crew since a little before then. We're the world's only polka hip-hop band. Don't adjust your dial, kiddies; you heard right.
Our sound is unlike anything anyone has ever heard before – if they haven't heard us that is. What do we do? I'd say we bring together the disparate musical genres of hip-hop and polka and slam them together into a totally unique hybrid of sheer power and drama. We can rock a party and get everyone dancing and slam the injustices around us all in one song. As Spade One likes to put it, "Polka hip-hop for the masses to move their asses!"
Which bands are you looking forward to seeing at Summerfest this year?
My esteemed brothers have a laundry list of bands they want to see, I'm sure, but I used to work on the grounds as an ice guy, then as a beer runner, so I only come out for bands I'm really into. I'm lucky that Buckwheat Zydeco is playing right after us. Zydeco is what got me into my instrument in the first place, so I'm hoping to catch that show. [Note: Buckwheat Zydeco canceled his show after this interview and was replaced with Marcia Ball.]
Where else is the band playing in the near future?
We'll have a gig at The Up and Under on Saturday, July 30.
What's your favorite thing to eat or drink at Summerfest?
Brats from Mader’s, baby!
Read more about The Rebel Stage here.
Molly Snyder started writing and publishing her work at the age 10, when her community newspaper printed her poem, "The Unicorn.” Since then, she's expanded beyond the subject of mythical creatures and written in many different mediums but, nearest and dearest to her heart, thousands of articles for OnMilwaukee.
Molly is a regular contributor to FOX6 News and numerous radio stations as well as the co-host of "Dandelions: A Podcast For Women.” She's received five Milwaukee Press Club Awards, served as the Pfister Narrator and is the Wisconsin State Fair’s Celebrity Cream Puff Eating Champion of 2019.