dada's 20th Anniversary Tour: Shank Hall, Milwaukee | Jim Kofron Photography | Jim Kofron

dada's 20th Anniversary Tour: Shank Hall, Milwaukee

If you're a regular reader, you probably don't remember a live music review here. That's primarily because the last time I went to a 'rock' venue to see a national band—well, I don't think Al Gore had invented the internet yet. That's probably not quite accurate, but it's been a quarter of a century, give or take a couple weeks since I've seen music live. Think Thompson Twins, Eurythmics, Depeche Mode, etc. dada is a band I discovered by accident. My son wanted to use Dizz Knee Land as part of the soundtrack for a movie he was making—so being a law-abiding citizen, I bought "Puzzle" and grabbed the track for his movie (which didn't get wide release, so no revenues to the band...). When I listened to the rest of the CD, it was 'wow'. I found most of their other disc at Amazon, and ordered away. Each one had a different flavor than Puzzle, but I've really enjoyed them all.

So with that background, let me say that I discovered the band after they were basically done. Not putting out new music, not touring (and they're a Southern California band anyway). So no big deal. A few years later they were doing a tour with a date in Chicago, but I couldn't make it—so no big deal. I'm no groupie—I've seen their website but don't pay much attention to it (they probably don't pay much attention to this one either). Last time I visited it was probably a couple years ago. But a few days ago, I was listening to some of their tracks (off of El Subliminoso)—and something inside me said 'check out their site'. So I did. And hey, they're doing a 20th anniversary tour! Cool. And they're going to be in the midwest! And they're be at Milwaukee on... FRIDAY! 

My though: gotta see this. Asked Jen if she wanted to go. She gave me that "aren't you a little old for that" look. Luckily, one of my friends at work (Mike) is a live music aficionad, lives in South Milwaukee, and is well acquainted with the venerable Shank Hall. Asked him on Thursday—he said 'hell yeah', even though he had never heard the band. And Friday, off we went. I will give my mea culpa here—my daughter loves the band too, and when I asked her if she wanted to go she said 'hell yeah', but then I realized it was an 21 and older show—and I didn't want to have to leave her in a snowbank for 4 hours if we couldn't get her in...

The show was fantastic! Take that from someone with my years of experience with live music… 7Horse opened the show—this is a project by dada band members Phil Leavitt and Joie Calio. Very impressive. A much different sound then dada—dirty rock/blues. Great stuff. The second set was done by Jerad Finck—an acoustic set which didn't do much for me. I'm not sure the venue was the greatest for him. In fact, the only negative of last nights show was that the vocals seemed to be overwhelmed much of the time—by the instruments for 7Horse/Dada, and by the chattering crowd for Jerad.

Bottom line—these guys are a talented group of musicians who don't get the airplay they deserve. Get out and see dada while you can!

The headliners put on a great set (and long—this thing didn't end until after midnight). A lot of the classics: Dim, Posters, Dorina, Dizz Knee Land, Bob the Drummer, Ask the Dust, Guitar Girl—and they through in The Spirit of 2009 and an awesome cover of the Monkee's Last Train to Clarksville. These guys can play! Michael Gurley can make that guitar sing, and Joie Calio is pretty damn talented as well. Their voices together are awesome. And then Phil Leavitt is an amazing drummer. I was expecting him to do more vocal work during the dada set, but he seemed to be taking it easy on the harmonies (I don't know if that's just the way it is with the set they did, or if the 7Horse set wears on his pipes). It was the best damn show I've seen in at least 20 years!

Bottom line—these guys are a talented group of musicians who don't get the airplay they deserve. If you like music—get out and see them! Tickets are cheap, the venues are likely awesome (it was easy to push through the 150 or so people to get to the stage at Shank if you wanted to), and these guys put on an incredible show. And who wants to wait until the 25th reunion…

Last tip: pick up the 16 in 2 album in the swag shop at their venues. It's a set of demos done before Puzzle was released, and it's very fine. A lot of acoustical work, and some tight harmonies... fantastic!

Copyright 2014, Jim Kofron. All rights reserved.