Under The Hotel Foster (HoFo for the hipsters amongst us) stage backdrop of a Betsy Ross flag, two deer heads and Caligula’s bust, Hero Jr. (Indianapolis, IN) fired the opening salvo of the Delta Routine’s much anticipated Cigarettes and Caffeine Nightmares release show.
Hero Jr. was a band of few words so they got right into the music. They started with the chugging and propulsive garage pop of “Everybody Needs” and then played a ballad but kept it aggressive. Lead singer/guitarist, Evan Haughey, had a voice well-suited for pop rock, almost in the Rob Thomas vein, but with more bite. The ballad featured a searing guitar solo from lead guitar player Ken Rose that had him swinging his entire body around. Next up was the welcome change of pace tune that could have been called “Suzette.” This one featured a pulsing rhythm that bodies cannot help but to move to. The chorus of the song also featured hyper rhythmic vocal phrasing that brought to mind the chorus of “Erotic City” by the purple one himself, Prince. They closed with the up-tempo driving runaway train of “Shake It Out” and when they were finished, they thanked the crowd for moving with them.
The Delta Routine, rightfully so, took the sweet spot of the evening and singer Nick Amadeus came out in his almost-signature stripes and sunglasses with ample charisma. They played the new record front to back which made for a thrilling look into the band and its process. The opener “Waste Your Time” was a blast of pop rock fury that made it evident that nobody in attendance would be having their time wasted by watching this group. This was followed by “Cigarettes and Caffeine Nightmares” which was lifted up from the start by its catchy “Bah Bah Bah” hook. This one seemed to be a distant, more sophisticated cousin of “My, My” from their earlier release Donna. Next, was the somber “I Wait Alone.” This was an example that principle songwriter Amadeus has grown in comfort with sharing the full context of his life with his listeners. The single “Switchblade” was next, which sported a rhythmic chord progression which evoked the Peggy March hit “I Will Follow Him” with copious amounts of distortion added in. The song was an anthem because everyone needs to hear, “Give ‘em fire, give them hell” every once in a while. They then cruised into “Don’t Wanna Let You Down,” and this tune was held down ably by drummer Kyle Ciske’s stuttering backbeat. It was a knowing tale about how it can be easy to hurt the people that you love and trying to fend off that fate. At this point the out of control packed HoFo crowd was taking it all in as their bodies were in a constant state of sway to the music. “New York Avenue” employed plenty of menacing atmospherics from lead guitar player Victor Buell IV in lieu of the cello part from Peter Thomas (I’m Not a Pilot) on the studio version. This combined with the moody organ work of Al Kraemer really painted the song in a different hue. They then took the tempo back up with “Oh, No”; here Amadeus operated with a snotty imaginative melody that danced over a 50’s style beat. Bassist Evan Paydon shined through this tune with his easily acrobatic bass line Delta Routine then finished up their set with “People Like You.” Bassist Paydon created a silky smooth bass line that Amadeus utilized to ponder the idea of if there could ever be a point of success where you do not have to worry about fake people. Band hype man Keegan Wenzler then got on the mic and asked the crowd if they would like more. The crowd’s response was already boiling out of the pot before he got up there so the Delta Routine obliged and tore right through the Elvis Costello riot “Pump It Up.”
The night ended with the uncontrolled mayhem of We Are Your Father. They wasted no time getting into the madness with a sludgy song where lead singer Wolfgang Luethy showed of his sneakily agile voice. Next was “The Cowboy Song” that churned along bursting into a great ear-worm of a wordless chorus. The song culminated with the line, “Walk out on me and you will see who I can be” shouted at the top of their lungs and the crowd could not help but be frenzied. The welcome assault continued with “MPD”, a song that reads as the band’s calling card and manifesto. It is a slow building jam that winds its way to the titular primal scream “We Are Your Father!” Those in the know among the crowd screamed right along with them. We Are Your Father played hopscotch across the genres throughout their set. One song had a psychedelic opening that would sit comfortably next to “Maggot Brain” by Funkadelic. Lead guitarist Craig Baumann got to take front and center to move this one along. Bassist Ryan Alby then took over the vocal duties like a fist of granite during “Six Foot Sexy.” The crowd found the dance floor and got down to business. Up next was “Sarge”, which showed that Luethy has a way with obtuse inventive guitar riffs. Ted Fleming’s drumming was full of chaos and beautiful in all the right ways. This one had the crucial lyric, “Up in the morning with the rising sun, run all day until the running’s done.” It is plain spoken poetry that anyone can relate to. They ended the night with the brash punk tinged “Left for Dead” or for those who like inside jokes, “Breakfast Ted.” The crowd gave We Are Your Father back all of the energy that they had sent out from the stage. Be on the lookout for their forthcoming album recorded down at the Riverside Theater. The Delta Routine record release show was full of Milwaukee’s beautiful people and bursting at the seams with talent. Everyone who attended was sent out on an ecstatic jet stream to finish out the work week.