The Importance of MSE Fest

Aug. 18, 2008
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My first instinct when I heard about the recently announced Forward Music Festival in Madison, Wis., was jealousy. I lamented that Madison was able to create a multi-venue music fest, since it seemed impossible one would ever occur in Milwaukee, where it's no secret that promoters don't always get along with each other.

I'd have bet money that Milwaukee wouldn't see a multi-venue partnership anytime soon, but I would have lost that bet, apparently. In a small but important step, this week WMSE has organized what it's billing as "MSE Fest," a series of loosely (very loosely) connected concerts and events that spans seven venues and four days. Each $18-$20 ticket gives access to this roster of nearly a dozen shows.

I'll be totally candid here: I don't think this weekend's MSE Fest will be an overwhelming success. Its complete details were announced only days ago, allowing little time to properly publicize the event, and although the tickets are a bargain, I don't envision too many people going out of their way to buy them since there aren't too many big anchor concerts to drive sales.

But if these all-access tickets became a semi-regular deal, they could find a market, striking a chord with the ever-growing base of local music fans as well as casual bar-hoppers who don't want to commit to one cover charge.

So cheers to MSE for giving this a whirl, and here's hoping they stick with it. It's beyond encouraging to see these disparate venues working with each other (even if it is in a very limited capacity). Milwaukee is still a long way off from having its own Forward Music Festival-let alone its own South by Southwest-but this is a solid step in the right direction.

Here's the MSE Fest line-up:

Thursday, Aug. 21

Todd Wehr Conference Center - MSE Fest Kick-off party with White, Wrench, Conservatory / El Gordo / Fable and the World Flat / DJ Madhatter

Friday, Aug. 22

MSE Fest Featured Show - Turner Hall Ballroom w/ Decibully / The Championship / Celebrated Working Man /  Koufax
BBC Upper Level - Marashino
Cactus Club - The Get Down Dance Party
Club Garibaldi - Whiskey Bound w/ God's Outlaw
Shank Hall - Dairyland Youth / Casey Stang / Peter D'Amore

Saturday, Aug. 23

BBC Upper Level - Blue, Seriously
Cactus Club - Heathrow (CD Release) / Knit Delicate / Mystery Pallace
Club Garibaldi - Dusty Medical Records 21" release party w/ Elephant Walk / Jail / The Midwest Beat / The Get Drunk DJ's
Mad Planet - Jack Raasch / All Things Lucid / Steven Cook / Saedra
Shank Hall - Jason Seed / De La Buena

Sunday, Aug. 24

MSE Fest Finale @ Mad Planet - John Mueller / Cages / All Tiny Creatures


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