PBR and Detroit Cobras in Bay View

Jul. 25, 2008
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Full disclosure: I’m one of those guys, one of those obnoxiously proud Bay View residents. I support the neighborhood’s businesses, eat at its restaurants, spend many weekends in a continuous loop from the Palomino, Cactus Club and Burnhearts, and have frequent conversations with friends about why they should move here. I’m never so delusional as to argue that Bay View is Milwaukee’s next East Sideit’s appeal isn’t as wide and it’s pockets aren’t as deep as that neighborhoodbut for a certain sect of Milwaukeeans, particularly twenty and thirtysomethings looking for a safe, affordable place to settle down near a lively arts and bar scene, Bay View offers everything you need.

It’s with that disclaimer that I’ll beam about the neighborhood’s Pabst Blue Ribbon Street Party today, one of the most fun of the city’s many outdoor festivals I’ve attended this year, and a low-key alternative to the increasingly business-driven Brady Street Festival. It was every bit as no-frills as you’d expect from the sponsor, little more than a music stage and beer tent (there was also a crafts stand and a food booth, along with some simple party games), but the crowd was friendly and festive, and the music was a blast. John the Savage did a typically cacophonous set, the Rusty Ps’ amiable, “adult” hip-hop was a perfect match for the sunny day, and between sets DJ Madhatter killed with a mix tailored for the crowd’s tastes, leaning as heavily on alternative acts like Jane’s Addiction and The Ramones as staples like Jay-Z and James Brown.

Proudly slathered in PBR stickers, The Detroit Cobras were a fitting headliner. Like the neighborhood for which they performed, the Detroit garage-rock cover band is unpretentious and fun-loving, and they revere an earlier, un-ironic period of rock ’n’ roll (Bay View is, after all, the center of Milwaukee’s straight-faced rockabilly scene.) With good-natured rowdiness, the Cobras covered songs like “The Twist” and plenty of rarities from that era for a crowd that, while tattooed, trendy and young, was never so self-conscious as to disguise their blue-collar roots. Can of beer in one hand, and often a dog leash in the other, they took in the day’s simple pleasures, partying like true Milwaukeeans.


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