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The Summer Soulstice Festival @ North Avenue

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Jun. 25, 2008
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They say Milwaukee is a cover town, and this year’s Summer Soulstice Music Festival Saturday on North Avenue did little to disprove that notion.

Emanating from usual suspects like The Love Monkeys to less likely sources like Northern Room, covers abounded. Even headliners Local H performed a punked-out version of Britney Spears’ “Toxic” to both fan delight and confusion. And when songs weren’t being covered they were pantomimed—imitative air-guitar demonstrations filled the time between sets.

The festival grew this year. New expansions included three stages and a DJ and dance area hosted by Decibel/Deep Bar. The schedule included 10 music acts, including Jayk and The Saltshakers.

Tucked away on the smaller Murray Avenue stage was the only real alternative to the rock/pop sets, the Latin jazz band De La Buena. Unfortunately, their lively performance was cut short by a sudden, short-lived downpour that scattered dancers and onlookers.

Meanwhile, Northern Room brought their usual brand of friendly, ambient melancholy, breaking character briefly for a rendition of A-Ha’s “Take on Me” to the delight of the teen girl dance circles.

For many the real draw was ’90s grunge alumni Local H. Support a new album, 12 Angry Months, the Chicago two-piece reluctantly drudged through older material like “Bound for the Floor.” Relying solely on Scott Lucas’ guitar and Brian St. Clair’s drums, the two delivered an surprisingly full, albeit muffled sound to by far the largest crowd of the evening.

Across the way, Minneapolis’ pop-punk outfit Quietdrive gave a competitively energetic performance to a noticeably younger and dedicated following.

While the festival rewarded the large turnout with a number of crowd-pleasers, it would have been have been nice to see more stylistic variety and originality in the bookings.


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