Tag Archives: indie rock

Seasaw emerge as a premiere indie act

By Joey Grihalva

On February 16, I attended my first concert at the Back Room @ Colectivo  while the cafe was still open. Fun fact: the Back Room is setup as such that you can hear the music if you’re hanging out in the cafe. However, what you miss by not being in the Back Room is an intimate atmosphere with great acoustics.

Madison based folk-pop duo Seasaw opened the show on the 16th. Had I just been hanging out in the cafe I would’ve missed the joyful looks that Eve Wilczewski and Meg Golz shared while playing.

I would’ve also missed the beautiful, sparkling, multi-colored sequin top worn by Wilczewski. Not to mention, I would’ve missed their sick Autoharp skills. All told, Seasaw delivered a spirited set before Indianapolis sister act Lily & Madeleine took the stage.

Eve Wilczewski at the Back Room (Photo by Melissa Miller)

The chemistry between Wilczewski and Golz might convince you that they’re sisters. In fact, the ladies have been creating music together for more than six years, though most of that time they were living in different cities. Both are Illinois natives who first became friends while working together at an Italian restaurant in the town of Freeport.

Shortly after they met, Golz moved to Madison to attend the Madison Media Institute, where she received a degree in audio engineering.

“We were long distance for that whole time when we were starting the band,” Wilczewski tells me after their show at the Back Room.

“Then when I moved to Madison in the summer of 2015, it just so happened that I moved into a house that had a partial recording studio in the basement. We were going to record the album anyways, so it was very serendipitous,” adds Wilczewski.

With their infectious 2016 album Too Much of a Good Thing, Seasaw has emerged as a premier Wisconsin indie act. Last summer they played Mile of Music’s opening ceremony at the Fox Cities Performing Arts Center.

Seasaw’s performance at the Back Room was their fifth time playing in Milwaukee. However, they had a few more shows that fell through.

“Three times in a row we had to cancel in Milwaukee. There were either weather problems or sickness or car trouble,” says Golz.

These unfortunate events yielded an uncanny result. Seasaw ended up playing their first ever Milwaukee show at Summerfest. They took part in the 2016 Emerging Artist Series on the Johnson Controls World Stage. Seasaw won the fan favorite vote, awarding them gear that they now use in their live performance. Since then they’ve played Club Garibaldi, the inaugural Milwaukee Fringe Fest, and Riverwest FemFest.

Meg Golz at the Back Room (Photo by Melissa Miller)

Wilczewski and Golz’s endearing onstage banter was well-suited for a performance at Green Bay’s Meyer Theatre opening for comedian Paul Reiser. In their young career, Seasaw has shared a stage with Lucius, Thao & the Get Down Stay Down, You Won’t, SOAK, Run River North, Lissie, and Dead Horses.

Seasaw kicks off their latest tour tonight in Madison at The Frequency. The tour will take them to the 11th annual Daytrotter Downs festival in Davenport, a Paste Magazine live session, Union Hall in Brooklyn, and a dozen stops along the way.

During their Back Room set Seasaw performed a stirring cover of Weezer’s “Say It Ain’t So.” The ladies repertoire also includes “Dearly Departed” by Shakey Graves, “The Boys Are Back in Town” by Thin Lizzy, “Mercedes Benz” by Janis Joplin, and “Stone’s Throw From Heaven” by Madison freak-folk legend Josephine Foster.

The ladies so enjoy doing covers that they formed a Yeah Yeah Yeahs cover band — with Golz as her idol Karen O — and a White Stripes cover band, which debuted last Halloween. They’re bringing back the Stripes band for a performance in Madison on March 25.

Seasaw’s tour kick-off tonight at The Frequency will also serve as the premiere of their new music video, which was digitally animated by Chad Smith. The video is animated in 3D and works with the old school, blue and red paper glasses. The day I spoke with the ladies of Seasaw their video for “Into the White” had just come out.

“I’m doing a dance routine that Eve doesn’t know, so she’s trying to mimic my moves,” says Golz.

“It was shot in one take so it’s like performance art,” adds Wilczewski.

“It’s got some great outfits and we’re giving it everything we got,” says Golz.

Sounds like Seasaw in a nutshell.

 

Spoon

Indie rock stalwart Spoon has been performing for more than 20 years under the direction of frontman Britt Daniel and drummer Jim Eno. The recent release of the band’s eighth studio album They Want My Soul proves it hasn’t lost its distinctive, minimalistic voice. That’s all the more impressive given that the release is the group’s first since 2010.

‘The tour supporting the record comes to the Riverside Theater, 116 W. Wisconsin Ave., Milwaukee, on Wednesday night. Tickets are $26.25. To order, call 414-286-3663 or visit pabsttheater.org.

8 p.m. on Wed., Sept. 17

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Mellower with age, Bob Mould still plays fast and loud

When thinking of gay artists in popular music, the alternative rock genre rarely comes to mind. However, 53-year-old out artist Bob Mould can fairly lay claim to being an elder statesmen of alt rock. He was a co-founder of legendary punk band Hüsker Dü and, through his later band Sugar and a series of well-received solo albums, he’s been a guiding light in the alternative rock community for 25 years.

Mould brings music from his current album, Beauty & Ruin, to Milwaukee’s Turner Hall on Sept. 17.

While Mould may accept his identity as a gay icon, he’s much different from the stereotypical gay rock star. Sober since 1986, he eschews glitz and glamour. But he’s been a serious supporter of his community for decades — first in New York and Washington, D.C., and today in San Francisco’s Castro neighborhood, where he’s an active member of the local “bear” community. 

Mould released his autobiography, See a Little Light: The Trail of Rage and Melody, in 2011. The book is a revealing look at the life of gay musicians in the U.S. punk scene in the 1980s, before it exploded into the grunge of the early 1990s.

Mould had a public reputation of being brutally angry if not actually scary. He famously lashed out at President Ronald Reagan’s perpetuation of public ignorance about the AIDS epidemic, calling it “the coal that fueled that train of discontent for hardcore (punk) for so long.”

“I was a young, confused homosexual living in a country that refused to acknowledge me as a human. That will make you angry,” Mould told Spin magazine.

Mould’s sexuality was an open secret for many years. He began his first long-term relationship in 1983 at age 22, but only came out in 1994 after journalists threatened to out him.

Mould co-founded the seminal punk band Hüsker Dü while a student at Macalester College in St. Paul, Minnesota, in 1979. The trio came together over a mutual love of the Ramones. The band quickly evolved into a hardcore punk group and released the legendary albums Zen Arcade, Flip Your Wig, Candy Apple Grey and Warehouse: Songs and Stories before unraveling in 1987.

Hüsker Dü’s collapse came too soon to see alternative rock bands like Nirvana blast into the pop mainstream in 1991. However, Mould is quick to remind interviewers that he was on the short list to produce Nirvana’s breakthrough album Nevermind, and without their commercial success, his post-Dü band Sugar wouldn’t have seen its debut Copper Blue become such a success in 1992.

As a child, Mould’s father was a major influence on his musical and personal development. He introduced Mould to pop and rock music through a collection of jukebox singles that remains a treasured possession. Mould bought the first Ramones album for his 16th birthday when his father took him to a record store and let him pick out his own gift. The elder Mould also  financially supported his son’s early music career. 

But the father-son relationship was often difficult, and it occasionally veered into potentially abusive territory. Speaking to NPR in June, Bob Mould said, “You know, my dad, he was a drinker. He liked to drink. Weekends could be tough.”

His father died in 2012. His latest album Beauty & Ruin addresses the past while moving forward into the present. It is structured around the four themes of loss, reflection, acceptance and future. That’s best seen with “The War,” which ends side one of the vinyl edition of the album, and “Forgiveness,” which begins side two. They give a clear audio representation of Mould’s difficult transition from reflection to acceptance.

He says that he’s finally left behind much of the rage that fueled his punk music in the 1980s. There’s a new sense of fun and even humor in his music. That might be a shock to some and a very welcome shift to others. Mould told GQ magazine in a 2011 interview that many of his fans “would prefer to see me miserable.”

Despite the changes in his personal life and outlook for the future, do not expect a Mould concert to be quiet. While there are likely to be acoustic touches, expect to experience music fast and loud when Mould takes the stage at Milwaukee’s Turner Hall.

ON STAGE

Bob Mould performs at 8 p.m., Sept. 17 at Turner Hall Ballroom, 1034 N. Fourth St., with opening act Cymbals Eat Guitars. Tickets are $20 and can be purchased by calling 414-286-3663 or visiting pabsttheater.org.

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