Ugly sweater parties have become a staple of today’s holiday season, casting a spotlight on the heinously unattractive fashion item of the 80s that most of today’s generation was forced to wear as a child. Mad Planet is throwing their own such bash tonight in honor of the knit atrocities, their 2nd annual celebration. This year’s lineup features some amazing music with Soul Low, Ikarus Down, Shoot Down the Moon and Animals in Human Attire. Soul Low, an ambient rock group, made a couple “best albums of 2013” lists with “Uneasy” that came out this summer. Check it out here on Bandcamp to hear for yourself. Alternative group Ikarus Down is about to release their next full-length and have promised to give us all a preview of their newest hits on Saturday. The band has two other albums and you can check out both of them on Itunes. Shoot Down the Moon has been making headlines recently by opening for Conor Oberst and the Mystic Valley Band (in Conor’s hometown Omaha) and folk master David Dondero. Close to finishing their follow up to 2012’s “Meetings and Greetings”, theirs is a live show not to be missed. Animals in Human Attire’s punk/folk sound made its way across the country on their fall tour and the ensemble group has been lighting up Milwaukee with a slew of shows around town since their return. While the night will be a mix of genres, all four bands have talent and energy in common and are sure to please your ears. Nick Tovarek of local band Kane Place Record Club will be spinning in between sets to keep you dancing. Show starts around 9pm, cover is $7 but you can get in for $5 if you wear an ugly holiday sweater. Hope to see you tonight!

Har Mar Superstar


So it’s Sunday night and the Packers lost and as is the case across Wisconsin, most of you in Milwaukee have probably been mourning since 3:00pm today, drowning your sorrows in beer and booze. For those of you who can still function, my solution to a rough, cold Sunday is to go to Mad Planet tonight. Surgeons in Heat, one of my favorite local bands, has been off the grid for a while and marks their return tonight with the first show in nine months. I hear there’s new band members and material so this is a great opportunity to catch the guys live in action if you haven’t had the pleasure before (or have). Lead singer Johnathon Mayer’s smooth voice and lyrics will be sure to charm your mind and senses into a better state. Check out their first two releases for free on bandcamp for a preview of what tonight holds. Also on the lineup tonight is Har Mar Superstar, Purple and Lizzo, three dance/rock bands that will definitely get your feet moving. Show starts around 9pm (see the event page here for more details), come down and get down with us! Look later this week for our thoughts on the show.

Crash Kings


Historically, Mad Planet has brought in touring bands from all over the country to occupy its stage. Located in Milwaukee’s hip Riverwest neighborhood, this darkly lit club has provided the perfect setting for many a dance party. Tonight is another great lineup booked by the Mad Planet crew, pairing LA’s Crash Kings with Ikarus Down and Semi Vinyl. If the rapid speed at which tickets sold are any indication, you don’t want to miss out on this show.

Crash Kings’ hit “Mountain Man” was #1 on the Billboards Alternative Chart in April 2010, a catchy, upbeat song reminiscent of the style of The White Stripes and The Black Keys. Check out the video here and I guarantee you’ll recognize it as quickly as I did. Another familiar jam, “You Got Me” is one of those songs that will get stuck in your head for days, all sexy bass riffs and key chords with equally suggestive lyrics. Crash Kings’ unique piano-driven rock has a much bigger sound than expected from a guitar-less trio and I personally can’t wait to see what their live show has in store for us tonight. Hot off the release of a new album in June, the band is touring the US and Milwaukee was lucky enough to make the list.

The show starts around 9pm tonight at Mad Planet, you can buy tickets in advance here for $10 or $12 at the door if it doesn’t sell out. Local alternative rock group Ikarus Down opens up the night, sure to deliver some tasty jams to get your dance shoes warmed up for a good time. The group just finished recording a new album to be out by the end of the year so its a good bet they have some new tunes to share. Hope to see you all there, I’ll be the girl headbanging in the front of the stage.



My entries have been few and far between this year, as I’ve been busier than the Brewers’ PR department, barely able to catch any music in our town besides the shows I’ve been a part of, but I took special care not to miss last night at Shank. The bill ended up as Foreign Fields, PHOX, w/ Boom Forest and Milwaukee finally made me proud for a Wednesday turnout at the unpredictable Shank Hall. Although my standout performance was PHOX, Foreign Fields and Boom Forest were just as captivating, and it makes sense, as all three bands are cut from the same cloth, and all great friends to boot.

Boom Forest started as a one man, acoustic guitar in hand performance by John Paul Roney, but ended up as a epic mash up of all three bands performing songs together they may have only seen minutes before the start of the show. Apparently his upcoming recording will feature members of PHOX and Foreign Fields. Check them out at

The crowd grew much thicker by the time PHOX hit the stage, and the energy was paramount. Monica Martin’s vocals are hypnotic, soothing, but somehow raucous enough to cut through the seven piece ensemble as it reaches its loudest dynamic. She dominates the theater of the band, and can’t help to become the focal point, but the rest of the group feeds the fire with the perfect amount of stage presence and subtle musicianship. Although there are several multi-instrumentalists in the band, my strongest take is their backing vocal prowess, guitarist Matt Holmen, keyboard/guitarist Matteo Roberts and bassist Che Van Huss were all able to effectively weave in and out of the main vocals and even disguise them at times. PHOX even welcomed Boom Forest’s John Paul Roney up for an acappella tune midway through the set. The energy hit its peak when Martin shared a very recent personal loss with the crowd, and the crowd showed its sincere appreciation, as almost everyone rushed to offer hugs and condolences after the show. This band is on its way to bigger and better things, just being added to the iTunes festival on Sept 3rd in London. I have a strong selfish desire to offer my pedal steel guitar services, not that they need it, on their new record they’ll be working on soon. Please check them out today on 88NINE’s “414 Music” live program at 4PM CST at or at

Foreign Fields did a great job captivating an already moved audience after PHOX left the stage using their strong grasp on dynamics and subtlety. Also Wisconsin natives, but now Nashville by day, and originally a duo, the band has expanded in sound and size, and even included Boom Forest’s Roney on guitar and vocals for the evening. Their crowd was deeply entranced by their set which moved from introspective, solemn, Bon-Iver-eske pieces to a more indie approach to raise the energy level. You can find them at
I wouldn’t doubt all three of these groups do great things, or maybe they can just make it a super group…called Phox Phields…Boom.

Contributed by Sean Williamson


For those of you who came out to Summerfest this weekend, you know it was quite a riot (no pun intended)…. For those of you who didn’t make it down, don’t worry, there’s plenty of time & music left! Local Playlist caught a few shows already and can’t wait to support more local talent this week. My personal highlights from the weekend were Kane Place Record Club tearing up a cover of Daft Punk’s smash hit “Get Lucky”, hanging out backstage at K-Nation/Cascio’s stage for Elusive Paralellograms and checking out some new songs from I’m Not A Pilot. Check out our picks for Tuesday and Wednesday and we hope to see you down at the grounds soaking up the sun and tunes!

    Tuesday, July 2

(free admission from 12-3pm!)

Briggs & Stratton Big Backyard
7:30 p.m. Grace Weber and EMEFE

Johnson Controls World Sound Stage
5 p.m. Ethan Keller Group (Milwaukee, pop)
10 p.m. Willy Porter Band

K-Nation/Cascio Interstate Music Stage
1:30 p.m. Micah
3 p.m. Joe Richter
4:30 p.m. Southside Stranglers
6 p.m. Eagle Trace
7:30 p.m. Calliope (Milwaukee, psychedelic rock)
9 p.m. The Invaders

U.S. Cellular Connection Stage
5:30 p.m. Boy Blue (Milwaukee synth-pop-rock)

    Wednesday, July 3

Briggs & Stratton Big Backyard
2:30 p.m. The Whiskeybelles (Milwaukee)

Harley-Davidson Roadhouse
4 p.m. Alex Wilson Band (Milwaukee, blues)
8 p.m. Fever Marlene (Milwaukee, rock)
10 p.m. MGMT

Jo Jo’s Martini Lounge
4 p.m. Bella Cain

    Johnson Controls World Sound Stage

6 p.m. Tweed Funk (Milwaukee, funky blues)

K-Nation/Cascio Interstate Music Stage
1:30 p.m. Loud Noises
3 p.m. Body Futures
4:30 p.m. Enemy Star
6 p.m. Lost In A Name
7:30 p.m. Brighton MA
8:30 p.m. Midnight Reruns (Milwaukee, intense dance-y rock)

Miller Lite Oasis
Noon Crazy Man’s Basement (Milwaukee)

Uline Warehouse
5 p.m. The Black Saints (Milwaukee area)
6:30 p.m. The Heroes Lie (Milwaukee area)


Despite the recent rainstorms that have been plaguing our fair city which may suggest otherwise, summer is now upon us and with it comes one of Milwaukee’s most famous attractions, Summerfest! Be prepared to experience what Milwaukee does oh so well; beer, copious amounts of delicious fried food and of course live music. This year marks the 45th anniversary for “the world’s largest music festival” and the team at Summerfest has come up with a great lineup for 2013. This year features some amazing national acts and also a large presence of local bands from Wisconsin. The Local Playlist staff realizes what a daunting task it can be to sift through the huge schedule so we wanted to share our festival favorites this year. Every morning we will post our picks of the day and the following day as well so check back or stay tuned to our Facebook page for updates!

Anne and Danielle of LP

Local Playlist’s Unofficial Summerfest Guide:

Friday, June 28-*Free Admission: Donate Klement’s Product Noon- 3pm
Marcus Amphitheater
8 p.m. Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers with the Smithereens

BMO Harris Pavilion
5 p.m. De La Buena (Milwaukee’s premier latin groovers)

Harley-Davidson Roadhouse
10 p.m. Atmosphere

Johnson Controls World Sound Stage
10 p.m. Femi Kuti & the Positive Force

K-Nation/Cascio Interstate Music Stage
6 p.m. Paper Thick Walls
7:30 p.m. Will Phalen & the Stereo Addicts
9 p.m. Bright Kind (Milwaukee group formerly known as The Jeanna Salzer Trio)

Miller Lite Oasis
3 p.m. Mt. Olive (Milwaukee area)
6 p.m. He’s My Brother She’s My Sister
10 p.m. Cake

U.S. Cellular Connection Stage
3 p.m. Daniel and The Lion
4:15 p.m. PHOX (Madison)

Saturday, June 29-*Free Admission: Goodwill’s promotional ticket from donations Noon-3pm

BMO Harris Pavilion
8 p.m. Dispatch with The Ballroom Thieves

Briggs & Stratton Big Backyard
10 p.m. Pat Benatar with Neil Giraldo

Harley-Davidson Roadhouse
5 p.m. Yeasayer
10 p.m. Pretty Lights

Jo Jo’s Martini Lounge
8 p.m. The Toys (Milwaukee)

K-Nation/Cascio Interstate Music Stage
7:30 p.m. Elusive Parallelograms (Milwaukee)
9 p.m. I’m Not A Pilot (Milwaukee classically infused pop rock)

Miller Lite Oasis
6 p.m. The Record Company (Milwaukee by way of L.A.)
8 p.m. Mother Mother
10 p.m. Imagine Dragons

Uline Warehouse
5 p.m. Avenues
10 p.m. Less Than Jake

U.S. Cellular Connection Stage
5:30 p.m. Kane Place Record Club (Milwaukee funk rock ensemble)
10 p.m. Cracker


Milwaukee’s Summer Soulstice party on North Avenue featured many of the city’s most talented acts doing their thing.  After the sun went down the party spilled over into the Irie Vibez headquarters, located about a block away from the festivities.  The event was a fundraiser to help Irie Vibez get their radio station up and running as well as to allow them to continue bringing Milwaukeeans of all walks of life together.  The night, which was headlined by the charisma bomb, D’Amato, started off with a showcase of the indie rap of Higher Education Records.   The fresh and inventive beats for the entire Higher Education set were provided by DJ Moses.

A liquid rapping duo, Slic, consisting of Cold Medina and Airythmatic came out swinging with a song called, “Harmon Killebrew”.  They traded lyrical barbs back and forth before settling into a chorus that referenced the baseball great, Killebrew, while talking about killing a few brews.  The duo’s next song sampled the Tame Impala song, “Feels Like We Only Go Backwards” and was followed by one that sampled Elliott Smith’s “Independence Day”.  You do not hear that kind of music as the basis for hip hop every day.  In the next tune “Still Searchin”, Cold Medina had a cutting line that said, “I think my generation needs to nicorette the internet.”

Next up was rapper Bull Jr.  He took to the mic on a ferocious tip and did not relent for his entire short set.  His set was boosted by the inimitable Myke Deezy.  Deezy played hype man and showed that it was a role that he was born to play.  When it was Deezy’s turn to rap he held it down in the frenetic energetic style that only Deezy can do.  Bull Jr. then had DJ Moses stop the beat so that he could rampage through a verbal assault where he did vocal backflips with multisyllabic words leading to devastatingly precise punchlines.  Higher Education Records showed that they have diverse artists and sounds that are on the come up.

Higher Education was followed by the band Cherryball, which is still technically in its infancy but that is hard to tell.  Once they got warmed up the three-piece band erupted with a bluesy sound with down and dirty tones.  One thing that set them apart was their use of changing tempos to help keep the songs interesting and moving.  Then the man himself, D’Amato, sat in with Cherryball where he sang and rapped a song about going back to the pyramids over a funky, funky groove.  D’Amato then left the stage and Cherryball drove their set home with a cover of Teddy Pendergrass’ “Love TKO”.  This was an original and inspired choice of a cover.  Throughout Cherryball’s set one got the impression that they had all listened to Jimi Hendrix once or twice (to say the least), which was emphasized by their rollicking take on a Band of Gypsys era Buddy Miles tune, “Them Changes”.

The clean-up spot was held down with authority by D’Amato  who was dressed dapperly in an all black suit.  D’Amato was flanked on the stage by DJ Moses providing beats, two tap dancers and a background singer dressed as Jesus.  D’Amato played guitar and jammed along with the beat.  The crowd was already beginning to ignite.  D’Amato was then additionally joined onstage by singer Caley Conway.  They launched into a silky, slinky R&B tune that showed shades of Andre 3000 on the “Love Below” record.  The Irie Vibez headquarters was full at this point and D’Amato was obviously reveling in it.  At this point he told that crowd that he lets his freak flag fly in a cadence that sped up along the way for his new, wonderfully wordy, single BPA Free.  D’Amato then played song where he talked about being a sucker for the southern drawl over a blissed out beat that his rapping glided over perfectly.  Next, he covered the 1960’s anthem “Time of the Season” pretty faithfully (albeit with DJ scratches of course).  D’Amato has a lithe tenor and he had no problem emoting.  D’Amato, a natural born showman, implored the audience to sweat more and get out that funk.  The audience had no issues complying with his request.  He then had Robert Weiss (lead singer of Cherryball) come back up to play some guitar for a cover of Prince’s “How Come You Don’t Call Me Anymore”.  D’Amato sang this song with a controlled passion and a freely flowing falsetto.  He finished up the night by leading the band through a few highly danceable numbers and then thanking the frenzied crowd over and over.

There is no other band in Milwaukee doing what D’Amato is doing.  Just as there is no other collective bringing unique and quality shows to the masses like Irie Vibez Productions.  This show was the best possible way to end an already great Summer Soulstice on North Avenue.  If you get a chance to check out D’Amato, do it at all costs.  The same goes for any show that is carrying the Irie Vibez Productions tagline on it.


Articles about Evan Christian almost always start off with a variation of the phrase “flamenco guitarist, Evan Christian”. While that may be true, Christian has always blurred the lines between genre and what might be expected of him. This gleeful exploration is quite evident throughout these ten breezy romps through soul, reggae, psychedelic blues, flamenco and straight up R&B. His new record, 4LIFE, has something for all of Christian’s fans. The magic starts with “Vixen”, a clever lament for a girl who stole the protagonist’s heart. Shades of Jimi Hendrix at his most tender come to mind upon listening to it. This is songwriting that affects people and when Christian lets his voice open up, it allows those people to see that this music is coming from a deep well inside of him. This then flows into the reggae feel of “The Money”, a strong appeal to listeners to take a look at the role that money plays in their lives. “You’re sitting in your office staring at your monitor but it’s oh so nice outside. You trade your life for your paycheck. We say open up your eyes.” This is a song that patrons of Christian’s weekly Wednesday residency at the Jazz Estate will be familiar with but will enjoy hearing in its new atmosphere.

Christian then gets into the palate cleansing “Happy Man”. This song is about the joy of finding oneself in the simple minutiae of everyday life. It sounds like something that Eddie Vedder left off of the Into the Wild soundtrack by mistake but would have fit any of the beautiful scenes from that film. Ryan Ogburn adorns “Happy Man” with beautiful mandolin flourishes. From here it launches into the one true flamenco track, the guitar instrumental “Sevilla” (which also appears remixed later on) in which you can almost hear Christian’s guitar strings becoming set aflame with his fluid, rapid movements. You can almost picture an afternoon in Spain drifting by as he blazes through this workout. Then comes an absolute stunner of a song, “De Ja Vu”. Drummer Olen Franklin’s reputation precedes him and he does nothing to disappoint here. His tight rhythmic work in the verses leading to an openness in the chorus really help to make the song.

After this there is no time to catch your breath because another crowd approved song follows it up. That is “Rich Girl”, all about a catchy guitar part that the vocal melody matches with much sexual tension. Those are certainly characteristics that have been used to catch rich girls throughout time. The next tune, “Listen to What They Say” is a prophetic song that is led and pushed by the organ of Theo Merriweather. Christian is casting his net wide with the lyrics of this song. “Goodbye, goodbye to the wicked. Goodbye, goodbye to the sickness. They try to tell you so listen, listen to what they say.” On “Seasons” Christian sings of a tantalizing love affair where he describes a woman in great detail. The disc ends strikingly with “Whatever It Takes” which has the same kind of feel of “Learn How to Love” by the Tedeschi Trucks Band. It reads a meditation on his deep desire to keep his current love in his life. With 4LIFE, Christian easily walks the line between pleasing his current fans and attracting a new different crowd.


I first encountered Sweden’s Ghost B.C. on YouTube, and while it’s easy to write off bands rooted in gimmick, Ghost still finds a way to make the music just as important. While the complete anonymity of the band, cardinal costume of the frontman (properly named Papa Emeritus II), synagogue like stage plot, & dark, obscure stage banter are all almost impossible to ignore, the musicianship & unique sound of the band surprisingly cut through stage and show.

Ghost B.C. played to a packed Turner Hall Ballroom in support of their new album “Infestissumam” just released last month. The show moved along swiftly and the sound was very well matched to the albums. While the music is referred to by some as “doom metal,” I felt it had much more of a vintage sound in instrumentation, akin to Black Sabbath, but with a modern, produced vocal approach. A very encouraging sign for hard rock these days, as the melodic vocal gives the the band a strong mainstream appeal, and the interweaving guitar & keyboard sounds that are just heavy enough lead to a vintage vibe.

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The_MothEach week I warm up in the heat of the Milwaukee music scene wishing there was a venue for what I do, story telling. Finally, that place exists. Moth Organization host’s Stories Told, is located at the Miramar Theater on the first Thursday of the month.

Before attending last week’s event, there haven’t been many moments of my life when my heart was beating so fast. When I put my name in that hat there was only a small chance I’d get called out in front of the crowd. I’d made the decision to share my story when the Miramar was only at quarter capacity, however it didn’t take long before all the rows of plush fold-out chairs and stowaway metal seats were full. It was a different crowd than usual for this venue. Everyone was seated, quiet and respectful. We were listening, most frequently to the stand up comedian who was facilitating. The time came too late to change my mind; they found me reclined, and caught me off guard. I was barely ready to step up in front of all those faces, not about to chicken out like the last guy.

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