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Novel, Red Knife Lottery, Farewell to Twilight and Cougar Den

Thursday, July 3 @ the Cascio Groove Garage

Jul. 4, 2008
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  Summerfest has long been the domain of bright, cheery music, not aphotic hardcore and grinding metal, so it was a bit of a spectacle Thursday when the Cascio Groove Garage hosted a line-up of loud area bands, booked by the local punk scene’s busiest impresario, Kelsey Kaufmann of Cougar Den. Milwaukee’s hardcore scene has long hosted some of the city’s most visionary bands, so it was a welcome change to see some of its young warriors finally get their due at Milwaukee’s biggest music festival.

Flanked by a supportive, receptive crowd of peers that crowded the front of the stage, most groups fit in at the Big Gig better than might be expected. Novel, for instance, proved they weren’t nearly as menacing as their demonic, grunted vocals might suggest. Their set flaunted an endless parade of winding metal riffs heavy enough to keep the crowd’s heads bobbing but melodic enough not scare away Chipotle customers dining nearby. Red Knife Lottery, meanwhile, tempers their thrash with singer Ashley Chapman’s soulful, multi-faceted performance. She can wail with the best of them, but shines equally during those rare moments when the guitars fall out and she’s left belting out her jazzy cries with nothing to hide behind.

Cougar Den was, as always, uncompromising, their vocals snarled, their soundscapes fuscous and distressed. Whitewater’s Farewell to Twilight, in comparison, felt like they were vying for the modern-rock radioplay, with their clean, emocore hooks and their Warped Tour showboating. They worked the crowd well, though theirs was also the afternoon’s most obnoxious crowd, thanks to a handful of cretins whose preferred method of dancing involved clenching their hands and spinning their full arms until they hit something, indifferent to whether their fists land on a willing participant or an inattentive teenage girl. At the risk of stating the obvious, it’s a reprehensible form of dancing that, unlike traditional, shoulder-driven moshing, leaves bystanders little opportunity to deflect dangerous blows. It speaks volumes about Farewell to Twilight that they not only didn’t put an immediate, Ian MacKaye-like stop to the fist bashing, but actually encouraged and even incited it as their singer flailed around the stage, spinning his own arms and fists like a drunken ultimate fighter. Stay classy, guys.


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