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We're Gonna Make It After All ...

By Lizz Kannenberg in Arts & Entertainment on Apr 17, 2007 4:10PM

What Made Milwaukee Famous is the quirky kid with the dorky name in the back of the class whom no one notices until he gets his braces off, gets into MIT, and scores a summer internship with NASA. Kicking around the Austin scene since 2004, WMMF has put together a kind of indie-rock dream team: management through Fourth Floor, a division of powerhouse promoters Capitol Sports & Entertainment (Lollapalooza, Austin City Limits), booking through Monterey Peninsula Artists (Clap Your Hands Say Yeah, Cold War Kids, Tapes ‘n’Tapes), and a deal with tastemakers Barsuk Records (Death Cab For Cutie, Rilo Kiley, They Might Be Giants). Seems the music geekerati is finally paying attention to this weird kid with the straight A’s, as blog love for WMMF has steadily increased since an explosive showcase at the 2005 SXSW music festival.


Though the band’s name is taken from a Glenn Sutton song and not the old Schlitz beer slogan, there has to be a logical explanation for the brouhaha surrounding WMMF. Originally self-released in 2005 and later retooled for issue through Barsuk, Trying To Never Catch Up established them as the indie answer for the ADHD set. The album is the product of a band with three distinctly voiced songwriters, and the results are admittedly mixed. Tacking together garage-y dirt rock and backhanded glances at both mid-90’s post-punk and mid-00’s mall emo with unabashed Rufus-aping and a sugary sprinkle of savvy acoustic fair, the recorded version of WMMF is either “something for everyone” or too many cooks in the kitchen.

Luckily the live translation of the band’s hyperactivity only leaves the audience wanting more. Chicagoist attended the Stereogum/Immediate Media SXSW day party in 2006 to see the likes of Thunderbirds Are Now!, Rogue Wave, and Ted Leo & the Pharmacists but walked away pinning the “Wow” award squarely on WMMF's thrift store lapel. So say what you will about their earnest exploration of the massive universe encompassed by “pop” music, but don’t even try to stand still at the Empty Bottle tonight.

What Made Milwaukee Famous plays tonight at the Empty Bottle with Aqueduct and Youth Group. 9:30 p.m., $8 advance or $10 at the door.