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Die Kreuzen @ Turner Hall Ballroom

May 26, 2013

May. 27, 2013
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05.26.13 die kruezen | turner hall hi res-2
Photo credit: Benjamin Wick
The 2012 “Lest We Forget” concert brought a plethora of long-defunct Milwaukee punk and alternative bands back to life, all in the interest of paying homage to the musicians who’ve sadly passed on since the scene’s 1980s heyday, but by far its biggest coup was reuniting the legendary, widely influential Die Kreuzen, who, despite continuing interest and some lucrative offers, hadn’t played together for more than 20 years. It was a special occasion, a meaningful one, that put them on the same stage again after so long, and the story could have easily ended there, but instead, a year to the day later, Die Kreuzen was back to grace the Turner Hall Ballroom yet again, and this time as part of a small tour no less. They’re even preparing to release a new song (well, technically a previously unrecorded old song), “Continuous Dogs” in the near future, so for the moment at least, they’re again an ongoing concern, but, having been without for so long, the fans clearly aren’t taking that for granted.

Predictably, those fans quickly transformed Turner into a buzzing hive of expectant chatter and general good spirits, which was certainly a boon to the opening act, We Are Hex, a younger, female-fronted Indianapolis outfit who probably most immediately recall the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, only even more aggressive and angular. Their sound, with its post-punk revivalism and goth-rock attitude (heavy on the eyeliner), is rather '80s, which made them an appropriate choice to get things started here, but it’s also modern enough to prove them more than just talented mimics. They’re worth checking out, but were definitely not who the crowd was there to see, and as they quickly made their exit, the space in front of the stage rapidly became densely populated prime real estate. Shortly thereafter, Die Kreuzen appeared with little fanfare except for a quick and wholly unnecessary introduction. The unassuming way the band took the stage is indicative of the attitude they’ve brought to all their post-reunion activities, one without a whiff of bullshit or pretension.

Even visually it was simple and direct; aside from a smoke machine working overtime, there was no slickness or flash, just the band doing what they do best. Which isn’t to say they aren’t interesting to watch; between Keith Brammer’s low-slung bass playing and vocalist Dan Kubinski’s expressive face contorting itself in every direction as he belted to the rafters, they’re more dynamic than many acts with elaborate presentations. As was the case last year, the set list was carefully crafted to represent every era of their impossibly diverse discography, and, again like last year, it all sounded fantastic, from the scorching hardcore of “All White” from their classic 1984 self-titled debut, to the expansive, challenging alternative of Century Days cuts like “Elizabeth,” “Number Three” and beyond. After two decades, you might expect some rust, but thanks to an intensive rehearsal schedule, they’re a well-oiled machine, wowing both original fans and a whole new generation of listeners. It’s certainly good to have them back in action.

Same time next year?


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