Local Music Wrap-Up: Why Does Milwaukee Hate Chester French?

Jan. 28, 2011
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Like many cities insecure about its size and cultural standing, Milwaukee is quick to trumpet even the smallest achievements of its native sons. So why, then, does the city seem to have distanced itself from Chester French, the Interscope-signed alternative pop duo fronted by Milwaukee native D.A. Wallach?

Cristina Daglas explores that question in a smart profile piece in the current issue of Milwaukee Magazine, juxtaposing the success of the band (which recorded its upcoming album in Wauwatosa) against the city's indifference. In truth, the easiest way to understand why Milwaukee media has politely danced around the group is to just hear some of their music for themselves—most of the city's music writers don't care much for self-consciously juvenile songs about "sluts"—but Daglas' piece hints at the greater culture clash between the Ivy-League Wallach and his home city:

Wallach can love and hate Milwaukee in the same sentence. “I’ve been to every major city in the country five times, and there’s such amazing things about Milwaukee – being on the lake and the lack of traffic and the resources of a big city but the feel to some extent of the Wisconsin kind of hometown culture,” Wallach says. He loves Beans & Barley (he’s a vegetarian), swears by Kopp’s custard and grilled cheese, and only gets his hair cut at The Men’s Room in Shorewood.

But gradually, the distaste arrives, as he sips his juice, calling Milwaukee unstylish while wearing Harvard sweatpants and passionately dropping F-bombs. “We’ve got a city here that’s f--king falling apart, has been for 20 years, and no one cares about it. And I’m still paying the f--king stadium tax every time I come to Starbucks.”

* Milwaukee's Get Drunk DJs have compiled a fantastic new mixtape, which you can download here. It's an assortment of garage, punk and rock tracks from bands signed to the affiliated Dusty Medical records, bands the promoters have booked for upcoming local shows, and bands the promoters hopefully will book for upcoming local shows. Seizure Chicken has the tracklist.

* Following a three-week run at Mad Planet, Milwaukee's experimental electronic music series MELT is relocating to Club Garibaldi for its next event, Thursday, Feb. 24.

* Voting continues for Radio Milwaukee's Milwaukee Music Awards. The winners will be announced Thursday, Feb. 17, followed by a party that evening at the Wherehouse.

* Tickets are still on sale for Saturday's Pablove benefit concert at the Turner Hall Ballroom, though the show seems likely to sell out soon. Bobby Tanzilo and WMSE's Sonic Diet blog have more background on the concert and its cause.

* And I spoke with rapper Logic of the hip-hop duo The Hollowz in advance of the release show for their mercurial new album, Dreams of Sex and Flying, Saturday night at the Bay View Brew Haus.


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