September 29th | Pablo Center at the Confluence
7PM Doors | 7:30 Show
$10 Tickets + $3 Ticket Fees = $13
Converge Radio 99.9 FM is thrilled to bring three local bands to the Pablo Center at the Confluence for one great evening celebrating our scene!
Arms Aloft: Arms Aloft is a punk band from Eau Claire, WI. Despite their best efforts to shoot themselves in the collective foot at nearly every turn, their poor aim and unsteady footing have afforded them the chance to instead release 2 full length LPs and a handful of splits and EPs. They have also, lord knows how, toured the US and Europe a handful of times. Never professional, always proletarian; they remain as steadfast in their completely foolish resolve that punk can be a force that pushes back against capitalism just as powerfully as capitalism pushes against working folks. What a time to be barely alive…
Idle Empress: Idle Empress was formed in Eau Claire by singer-guitarist Lauren Anderson, bassist Josh Frederick, and drummer Elliot Heinz. Their music features Anderson’s warm vocals backed by dynamic indie folk instrumentals arranged by the group. Since the release of their self-titled debut EP in early 2016, the band has relocated to Minneapolis and is currently working on a full-length project.
Minnesota Nice: Minnesota Nice is an experimental/noise project by Ben Hinz of Ronald Raygun and Dwarfcraft Devices. It’s music for a party to talk about music.
This weekend I attended Last Call, the big two-day sendoff for EC music scene staple House of Rock. It was an emotional event, and I witnessed people both on stage and off literally shed tears over the closing of this venue. I knew before attending Last Call that House of Rock was EC’s preeminent place for live music and that for many–myself included–it held numerous special memories and personal significance…but seeing these feelings and memories boil over for friends and strangers alike in a dramatic, physical way made it that much clearer to me: we lost more than just a tangible space this past weekend.
…for many House of Rock was home.
However, it is not us wistful weepers that I’m most concerned about, because we are the lucky ones who got to experience the place in its heyday. We got to raise toasts, dance, mosh, sing along to our favorite songs arm-in-arm with our closest pals — and we have the gift of the shows, friendships, and memories formed there forever.
…the people I’m most concerned for are those who–at least in the intermediate–will perhaps not get to experience having a similar space to inhabit and make a home of.
With the Confluence Project underway and other venues in the area stepping up to fill the gap left by House of Rock’s closing there is plenty of reason to be hopeful, but House of Rock was admittedly one of the few places in the area that was fully and specifically dedicated to hosting live shows and additionally provided both a major league PA and sound engineers. I know from talking to friends in bands that playing that first show on the House of Rock’s system was an irreplaceable thrill. Field Report‘s Chris Porterfield spoke to this when interviewed by Volume One about House of Rock’s closing (check out their great feature on HoR here):
“The House of Rock was the first place I ever played that had a full dedicated sound system and professional sound engineers. Prior to playing the House of Rock, we played shows in basements, VFWs, skate shops, coffee shops – places with cobbled together PA systems. Playing the House of Rock felt like we had leveled up into a more professional world, like our hard work was paying off. Playing with real monitors, engineers who knew how to help and cared enough to do it, stage lights, a green room – it felt like we had a place to really learn how to be on a stage. And it was right down the street.”
…for local bands House of Rock was a place that made you feel like a real rock-star, and the excitement people felt playing there certainly translated to those of us in the crowd. It was THE stage to play for local bands and therefore THE venue to catch shows at for us music fans.
I certainly hope that another space in Eau Claire can come to fill this void and become such a venue, but establishing oneself as such a place is also something that isn’t just a matter of the right sound equipment or the right bookings…it takes time. It won’t happen overnight, and for music makers and fans in the Chippewa Valley who are either brand new to the area or who are only just becoming old enough to attend 21+ shows, this ostensibly means they may be without the kind of musical homebase many of us got to enjoy in the House of Rock. If they’re here for the long haul hopefully they will ultimately find such a place, but looking ahead to the next couple years (and considering we’re a college town where people often spend 4-5 years here and then move elsewhere) I’m sure there will be those that unfortunately come and go from EC without ever developing the deep ties to our music scene they may otherwise have. This is a loss for these individuals and also for the music scene as a whole. We need a place that will serve as the centerpiece of our music community, a place that will–like House of Rock before it–keep people excited enough about local music that they both support it and create it.
So if you, like me, spent this past weekend at House of Rock with whiskey on your breath and a lump in your throat, there’s no mistaking the fact we have lost something wonderful…but now it’s time for those of us that were lucky enough to get to enjoy many years of great shows at House of Rock to work together to ensure the next generations of area music fans have the same opportunities to make the kind of memories we are currently mourning.
Eau Claire resident Fuller Moehagen makes part of his living off music, but you won’t see him on stage strumming a guitar.
…Fuller regularly does design work and merchandising for bands, both local and national. We wanted to get Fuller’s take on the best tunes of 2016 because to do this kind of work means listening to and thinking about music and bands a little differently in order to be able to turn around and distill and visually represent a band’s sound and aesthetic in an accurate, effective way. No easy task! Says Fuller on his approach to this particular challenge:
“Like anything else, some projects are definitely easier than others. I can listen to a band or artist and know exactly what to do within a few minutes. Conversely, I’ve been sent jobs and had little-to-no idea of what the fuck to do. So maybe that means I create 10 concepts instead of 5, just to see what sticks. There’s some amount of trial and error to it. Luckily, I’ve been doing this long enough to kinda know what works and what doesn’t. At the end of the day it’s still art and still subjective. I just do whatever I think is cool in the moment. Trust my gut and execute. The rest is kinda up in the air.”
Trusting his gut has led Fuller to get to work with some seriously big names in music; his handiwork has been featured at Eaux Claires and sold online and at shows by numerous artists and bands! Check out a sampling of some of the work he’s done below, and scroll on through for some of Fuller’s favorite tracks of 2016!
Yeah, 2016 had its serious bummer moments – but we still got music, right? In fact, Royal Blues is filled with enough electro-pop goodness that you’ll be saying “Donald WHO?!” in no time. I’m kidding, we’re probably doomed! But maybe this song will help for a few minutes. Turn it up, fam. The chopped vocal sample lends itself perfectly to the dreamy, cascading synths…or whatever. It’s just catchy af.
Easily my second favorite song called “The Middle”. While they’re not the most SEO friendly band, Wet is dope. This is like a chopped and screwed version of CHVRCHES, if you can follow that. Anyway, this is just a random single they released after their full-length album, Don’t You, came out in early 2016. I can’t stop spinning it. If it’s any indication of things to come, 2017 should be a cool year for them.
Straight up, this was my most listened to song of 2016 and has become my favorite Arms Aloft jam. What A Time To Be Barely Alive is an amazing album overall, but this one jumped out at me from the very beginning. Maybe it’s because the singer/songwriter in the band is one of my best friends. Maybe it’s because I’ve been around these dudes in one way or another for nearly a decade. Or maybe it’s just a really fucking good song? Yeah, I think that’s the one.
Lyrically, Shura isn’t trying to reinvent the wheel, but the songs on Nothing’s Real are heartfelt and deeply catchy. Sleek, 80’s pop vibes with dark, melancholy undertones. Also, for being her debut full-length album, it’s pretty damn impressive. Definitely someone to keep an eye on.
Yeah, guys…I know. Yeezy has been pretty uncool lately, but this song got me so hyped in 2016 that I felt weird not adding it. The production on this track is phenomenal. Mike Dean is just starting to get the real props he deserves. Plus, I had the chance to check out the Saint Pablo tour a few months ago and seeing how kids reacted to this song was kinda surreal. That being said, Ye needs to fix his broken brain as soon as possible.
See more of Fuller’s work or contact him via his website: FULLER.MOE
2016 was certainly a huge year for EC/MPLS punk band Arms Aloft: it saw them signed to punk label Red Scare Industries, the subsequent release of their new full length album–their first since 2014–entitled “What A Time To Be Barely Alive” (which we’ve embedded below), and a big time fall tour with punk supergroup The Falcon and standup comic/Comedy Central darling Kyle Kinane.
…we caught up with Arms Aloft frontman Seth Gile to find out about what he and the rest of the band have been listening to on the road and what other releases from 2016 they dug.
We were on tour during the last week of the campaign and the first 3 weeks after the election and lemme tell you, it was a weird time to be at punk gigs every night. We listened to WEIRD music in the van every day with Mikey Erg and his band riding along. Trying to soundtrack weird vibes, I guess. Anyway, I didn’t even know this was gonna drop and then Mikey put it on the morning after it came out and we all went kinda ballistic. It was probably the most “stoked” anybody had felt in a week. Instant classic type of feeling, for sure. Gateway Drug: “We The People…”
This band kills. Never written a bad song, and these 3 are no exception. I also am totally crazy about the recording. Sounds like they did it live. Sounds awesome. The drums and bass are kinda too distorted and the guitars are kinda too clean and shit yeah. It’s perfect. The A side of this is 2 “classic” DTM jams and then the B side is one long song that sounds like the Damned meets The Clash meets 2019. It’s sick as hell. Gateway Drug: “Tune It Out” but cmon, the whole thing’s like 10 minutes.
Like I said when I was talking about Tribe, we got to have Mikey and his band come along on a handful of gigs out on the east coast, which was super fun. The sweetest kids. It was super fun. Anyway, I’ve loved Mikey’s songs since back in The Ergs days and he’s been talking about making this solo record for years. Worth the wait. Was so much fun seeing these songs every night. Also, “I wish you loved me and blah blah blah / And I wasn’t lonely and blah blah blah” is just about my favorite poppunk lyric ever. Gateway Drug: “Comme Si About Me”
This record could’ve come out in the early 2000’s hardcore scene, sonically. But like, if that scene hadn’t been full of recovering-Christian, haircut, meathead bro-dudes. When I showed it to Alex, he called it “Woke Blacklisted” and I don’t hate that description. I can’t stand hardcore generally, because I feel like the aggression and/or the earnestness feels completely forced about 99.9% of the time, but these songs just couldn’t be played any other way. “Until Every Cage is Empty” makes me want to burn down a university lab. Fuck, this band is cool. Gateway Drug: “Wildflowers”
Some of our best buddies in whole world, these ones. When we get to play with these guys in the US, Till always tells people that if you can’t understand their lyrics in French just use an Arms Aloft song but replace all the cat references with dogs. I hope he’s right because this band is wonderful. Lyrical themes you might not follow (unless your French is good as hell or you pester Till about it once you’re drunk enough) but you can somehow still feel every word. Don’t have to understand a single thing he’s saying to know he means it. Love these guys. Gateway Drug: “La Substance”
I’m an irony-free sucker for dance pop. I listen to a ton of this shit, because I think there’s something interesting in the economy of writing to the lowest common denominator. It’s like how shit’s funnier on twitter because you have to get it out in 140 letters. If you HAVE to stick to a bunch of tropes and can still pull off something that sounds unique, you’re a wizard to me. Something interesting about the intellectual economy (he says, seriously. Like an asshole.). Enter whoever wrote these songs. Perfect fucking K-Pop from one the biggest acts “in the game” as it were. Whatever. Don’t @ me. Gateway Drug: “U & Me”
Album Link on Apple Music
This came out in 2015, probably. I don’t care about that though, because I didn’t hear it til this fall and it might be my favorite thing I heard all year. I first saw Ratboys at The Fest in Gainesville, FL in October and I was running a fever of about 103. I was just ABSOLUTELY miserable and trying to hang in there. Anyway, I ended up nursing a beer, high as hell on DayQuil and watching this band. I am certain I had the grin of someone at a shit buffet through the whole set. I wasn’t sick for like a half hour of that entire month, and it was that half hour. Just totally what my entire being needed. Naturally, soon as they were done, no doubt due to the combination of beer and DayQuil, I promptly forgot they existed. Nice, Seth. Anyway, like a month later I was reminded by my lawyer/agent/love of my life Conor Mackie, Esq. (shoutout to Conor, hey way to go) that I had seen them and loved them and I bought the LP. Anticlimactic, I realize. But for real, probably my top record of MY 2016. The kind of band that’s so good that you don’t wanna tell anybody about them, you know? Gateway Drug: “Tixis”
Before I go…people were sure beating the “2016 is the worst! Fuck off, 2016!” horse to a pulp. But I gotta say, if you think it was bad cause Prince died or whatever, wait’ll you get a load of 2017. It isn’t looking hot if you haven’t been playing along. It’s gonna be a scary few years, everybody. Let’s do what we can to make sure if anybody’s left out in the cold, kept up at night, or made to hear footsteps behind them that it’s the fascist fucks that just took office. That said; I guess here’s to every year being a little less dark than the last. Peace!
There is truly a wealth of musical talent here in the Chippewa Valley; so many bands and artists playing great music in a multitude of different genres. Hip-hop, metal, punk, folk, electronic, country, jazz, and more! …whatever type of music you are into there are quite likely some local artists writing, recording, and performing your kind of tunes. It’d be quite the undertaking to try and list each and every one of them here, so for this article we’re just going to be highlighting three in particular who have had really exciting and noteworthy developments happen recently and who have been getting some regional, national, or even international attention. It also just so happens that all three have some upcoming shows in the very near future (hint hint: you should go to them!).
So whether you’re new to Eau Claire or just want to jump in deeper with the area’s much talked about music scene, here is a jumping off point of three great EC bands/artists to check out:
Idle Empress is a three-piece band that writes evocative folk-rock music. The trio is fronted by Lauren Anderson, who got her start as a singer/songwriter playing solo at open mics in EC. After connecting with Elliot Heinz (drums) and Josh Frederick (bass), the band quickly became an Eau Claire favorite. Idle Empress released their debut EP earlier this year and it has garnered them attention beyond the Chippewa Valley, including a recent appearance on WPR’s Set List! These three are also a very big part of EC’s house-show scene and routinely put on and play house shows at different DIY spots throughout the city including “Vivian”, the basement venue they all help run.
Read More About Idle Empress:
9/9 @ The Mousetrap Tavern w/ Ego Death & Two Castles
21+, free, more info here
9/10 @ House of Rock w/ Distant Friends, The Chinchees, Arms Aloft & sloslylove
21+, $5, more info here
Sniffle Party is the moniker of vocalist/lyricist Serena Wagner who teams up with producer/beatmaker Eric Christenson (aka Two Castles) to make what Serena describes as “dreamy sad-girl pop”. The songs are catchy, danceable, atmospheric, and fun but tinged with just enough melancholy to be right for almost any mood–whether you’re happy or sad, these songs manage to sit just right with you. The debut Sniffle Party EP came out earlier this year and is titled “Peach Dream”, and one of the tracks off the EP (“Cavalier”) was just recently selected for an official Spotify playlist and has since racked up nearly 60,000 international listens.
Read More About Sniffle Party:
9/11 @ Vivian for Unbound Zine Release Show w/ Idle Empress, The Nunnery
All ages, $5, more info here
Arms Aloft is an EC/MPLS four-piece punk band made up of Seth Gile (guitar/lead vocals), Jack Gribble (drums), Alex Bammel (guitar/vocals), and Matt Keil (bass/vocals). The music that Arms Aloft makes matches driving, anthemic instrumentation with lyrics that speak to modern struggles both personal and political. They’ve been around for nearly a decade now, they’ve played all over the US, been on three European tours, and are heading out this fall with punk supergroup The Falcon and standup comedian/Comedy Central darling Kyle Kinane. They’re also dropping their brand new record “What A Time To Be Barely Alive” this month, which will be getting released and distributed internationally and will add to their current discography which includes the “Comfort At Any Cost” EP, their debut full length entitled “Sawdust City” (which you can listen to below!), and a split 7″ they did with French punk band Guerilla Poubelle called “Taches Noires Vivantes/Living Black Spots”.
Read More About Arms Aloft:
9/10 @ House of Rock *RECORD RELEASE PARTY* w/ Idle Empress, Distant Friends, & sloslylove
21+, $5, more info here