For close to 10 years, Milwaukee psych-rock outfit Catacombz has been a staple of the local music scene. Formed when most of the members were still teenagers, the band toured extensively, released a series of great records—one of which, 2011’s self-titled LP, earned the no. 15 spot on our 50 best Milwaukee albums of the 2010s (so far) list—and was nothing short of a fixture in Milwaukee music. In recent years, though, the lineup changed, members moved, focus shifted to other projects, and the band’s output slowed. The writing was on the wall, and all I’s will be dotted and T’s crossed December 6 when Catacombz officially comes to an end.
The band will play its final show (which will double as a release show for its final digital-only album, and a liquidation sale of remaining copies of its previous physical releases) at Riverwest Public House with support from Dogs In Ecstasy and (ORB), and DJ sets by Spero Lo Menzo. Joe Peterson (who is also in Rio Turbo and Platinum Boys) says the band’s decision to call it quits is on “the best” of terms.
One reason for the break-up is Isaac Sherman (who is spearheading an electronic project called STORM CHASER) moving to California. “It was a gradual decline in productivity, and most of us have been out of it for months, so there’s been time to adjust to a life that doesn’t revolve around this band,” Sherman says. “That has been both liberating and slightly confusing for me. This band was it for a long time, and now we’re all branching out and growing in many other directions. Catacombz is probably the most important thing I’ve ever been involved in. It has shaped me.”
Sherman says this won’t be the last time any of the members work together. Without offering much in the way of details, Peterson promises “a diverse set” for the final show, which is free, by the way.
“I realize that it seems kind of strange for us to come out of nowhere and announce a final show after being inactive for such a long time, but I think I can speak for everyone in this band when I say that it’s really important for us to properly lay it to rest,” Sherman says. “Mostly, we just want to have a good time, listen to good bands, and have one last chance to play loudly for some people. That is, after all, what we did best.”
Though this spells the (official) loss of Catacombz, the six members will only continue to yield great things for music in Milwaukee, and beyond. Both Peterson and Sherman sum the situation up best: “Shit rules.”
Catacombz is dead. Long live Catacombz.