Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Milwaukee's 1980's Music Scene Revisited

The Crusites

Someone from the 1980's Milwaukee Music Scene had died recently. His death prompted another 80's musical icon to set up a Facebook page that honored his passing, and the passing of many other great Milwaukee musicians. Our guitar player died just six weeks ago and as expected, his name was added to the page. I lost another great musical friend two years ago, and his name was posted as well. As the list of names kept growing, I received notices with every addition. I left the group. It was too hard to take.

Milwaukee's Musical Pioneers of the 1980's
Those Milwaukee musical pioneers certainly died too young, as most of them were in their 40's and 50's when they passed. I suppose that the ones who "lived fast" did die young, as the Circle Jerks song dictates. I rejoined the group when I noticed that the page had morphed into something so much more than a very depressing tally of the dearly departed. The Lest We Forget - Deceased Milwaukee Scene page is now a meeting spot for those who realize how important, powerful, amazing, and special it was to be part of that artistic moment.
Whether you were a spectator or participant, I truly feel that the 1980's punk scene in Milwaukee was a "happening" that doesn't come together too often. Perhaps everyone has their time, but I just can't bring myself to think that watching someone DJ, while lounging in a private area of a club will bring back amazing memories thirty years from now. The ingredients for something much more special has to include artistic and musical mavericks, something to rebel against, empty buildings in decrepit neighborhoods, and club owners willing to take a risk. I was too young to get into The Starship, but when the gates opened for me, I jumped at the chance to be part of that artistic family.

Thirty years have passed, and perhaps that is enough time to weather the rough edges, bury the grudges in silt, and allow us to come together to remember some of the amazing things that happened in Milwaukee. I'll never forget watching Sacred Order at Niko's, just days before my 18th birthday. I slid in under the radar only to get the once over from the bartender. The crowd was thin, but I was a paying customer. They let me stay.

Jay Tiller was my local drumming idol, and Sacred Order was tighter than tight. I probably had just enough money for a couple of beers, and no more. Second and National was not the best place to be at 2am, but punk clubs rarely opened in neighborhoods that were clean and well lit. For me, it's fitting that the face of Sacred Order would be the person who set up the online meeting place for what has now become a repository of amazing photos, stories, and memories that have come back to life.


T.Reed - Nightmare Sound said...

Nice Blog Paul...been a long long time!

Unknown said...

I went to school for one year 82-83 UWM and recall seeing Sacred Order at Niko's. Being from Northern Virginia,, I organized a show for Minor Threat at a club down in a cave setting. There were maybe 70 kids but the power was amazing. Minor Threat got$ 140 (I think too many freebirs) and Ian was a true gentleman. He said the 140 was plenty and he loved playing shows in small venues. It was small, the band and crowd were one, literally one.