Timeshares / Arms Aloft - Live in Milwaukee (Cover Artwork)
Staff Pick

Timeshares / Arms Aloft

Live in Milwaukee (2015)

live show

I was jet lagged and there was an intense storm complete with a flood warning for Milwaukee County, but this was a show I couldn’t pass up. Organized by Nick Woods, Direct Hit! maestro and Milwaukee punk show guru, this was a free, two-band set that promised to be over at a decent hour and didn’t bother with any of the shitty opener slots. I’m glad I didn’t miss it -- it was one of the most peculiar (and great) shows I’ve ever been to.

The show was at Bremen Café, a great watering hole in Milwaukee’s Riverwest with a tiny backroom venue. The crowd was small, but plenty of friendly faces and random people stopping in to check out a few songs (it was free, after all). Eau Claire, Wisconsin’s Arms Aloft took the stage first. They were down a member for the night, with the vocalist/ guitarist switching to bass to round out the sound, but they still plugged through an admirable set of gritty pop-punk numbers in the vein of Banner Pilot. If you haven’t checked them out and you’re a beardo 'orgcore enthusiast like myself, they’re definitely worth a listen.

About halfway through their set, something bizarre happened. We’ll call it a test of audience patience or at least a prime example of the bystander effect. A well-dressed young lady came up to the front of the room between songs and chatted quickly with the guys in the band. As they began their next song, she hopped on stage and stood awkwardly for a moment. Soon, she grabbed the microphone off the stand and started rapping over the guys’ song. Arms Aloft seemed mildly amused, if not a little stunned, and let her do her thing. For the most part, the audience was confused but went along. After the song ended, we figured she’d have had her fill of attention and get off the stage. However, between songs, she demanded they turn the mic up and began tinkering with the sound system, causing intense feedback. Throughout the rest of their set, she would take the mic at different intervals and try to get the musicians to listen to her demands as she some sort of improvised slam poetry. The crowd became less and less happy, the band got pretty upset, but no one seemed to have the will to do anything. The girl was dead set on performing with the band. Was it drugs, drinks or a mental health issue? Who knows? Everyone patiently waited for her to leave, but she wouldn’t let go of her occupied space onstage. Eventually, Arms Aloft ended their set with a “well, that was fucking weird” and trotted off angrily. It was truly a bizarre moment.

The criminally underrated Timeshares took the stage and before their set took a moment to talk through that strange experience. Member Mike Natoli drunkenly joked, “Ever since the Arms Aloft set, I’ve been stress drinking, and now I’m ready for her. Where is she?!” But the performance interrupter had left and allowed Timeshares to rip through an evenly divided set of Bearable and Already Dead numbers. Though the crowd wasn’t all that sizable or energetic, the guys put on a great show and closed off the evening with the fantastic singalong of “Too Many ELO Days.”

It was an evening of great entertainment for no cost. It was an interesting test of the punk community’s patience and willingness to intercede. As it turns out, most punks are happy standing by awkwardly waiting.