In its first two years, Arte Para Todos raised approximately $40,000 for Milwaukee public school art programs through the selfless efforts of musicians and visual artists bringing their talents to dozens of local bars, venues, and galleries. Thankfully, the city’s most eclectic and ambitious benefit returned April 27-30 for a third year with oodles of entertainment scattered throughout Walker’s Point, Bay View, Harambee, Riverwest, and the East Side. Three local breweries also got involved this year. As always, all proceeds were donated to Milwaukee public school art programs.

Though it was impossible to catch it all, we gave it a shot. There was no shortage memorable moments, but here are some of our favorites from Arte Para Todos 2017. [All photos by Andrew Feller]


Gas Station Sushi is the first band to take the stage at Anodyne. The Girls Rock alum start off the night with an energetic set including their two signature covers, “Smells Like Teen Spirit” and “Cherry Bomb.” Even though they are only sophomores in high school, the girls perform with the swagger of a band twice their age. Maybe it’s because they know the proceeds from APT will directly impact them. [Lauren Keene]

• Minneapolis-based six-piece rock band Suzie takes the stage next. APT broke format and brought a few bands from outside of Milwaukee for this year’s festival. The group plays their set smoothly and make jokes about drinking Milwaukee’s Best while being here. [LK]

Taj Raiden’s smooth hip-hop is a refreshing alternative to the other rock bands of the night. Closing out the Anodyne leg of APT is NO/NO. Singer Cat Ries performs with her usual ethereal energy, and the visuals by WC Tank only enhance the band’s performance. [LK]

• Var Gallery’s “30x30x30” exhibit showcases some incredible work this year, and it’s once again the perfect venue for stripped-down opening-night performances as well. There’s a sizable crowd for Shle Berry, whose engaging presence quickly wins over even the most aloof wallflowers in the room. She’s got a lovable-underdog energy as well as sharp vocal skills; we don’t anticipate her staying below radar for long. [Cal Roach]

• Speaking of underdogs, Chakara Blu has been one of the city’s criminally under-appreciated MCs for years, and she’s all business during her short set at Var, prowling the stage unassumingly and exuding a smoldering intensity throughout. She’s usually more of a visceral performer, but one of the key characteristics of Arte is experiencing artists in unusual modes, and the perky atmosphere of the room proves to be an interesting contrast to Blu’s gritty delivery. [CR]

• Equipment issues plague the proceedings at The Local, which may or not still also be called Club Anything, but once Cat Reis gets everything properly dialed in, her delayed set as Pleasure Thief has everyone enthralled. The dark, minimalist beats are mesmerizing, and her ethereal vocals drift through various filters, evoking the elusive sensual/spiritual blend of her lyrics. No one could’ve embodied the venue’s goth history any more perfectly than this, and this tone-setting performance winds up being one of the most memorable of the festival. [CR]

• Maybe Siren will never actually release an album—which would be a shame for the rest of the world—but as long as she keeps giving Milwaukee plenty of opportunities to see her perform, her lack of recorded output isn’t so tragic. For tonight’s headlining slot at Var, she’s masquerading as Katie Lafond; some fans may be aware that she has released music under her given name in the past, and the rest are probably not surprised that her talents extend to the acoustic realm. It hardly matters what the accompaniment consists of when you have a voice like hers, and even her beat-driven signature song of late, “Priestess,” fits effortlessly into her set of strummy heartbreak tunes, and it’s a dazzling display of vocal improvisation as well. [CR]

• We arrive at Gibraltar a little late in the evening, but hear glowing reports about Sugar Ransom and Tontine Ensemble from buddies in the crowd. Arte’s Jeff Redmon greets attendees at the door, mere feet away from the giant Jeff Redmon painting on the wall. Rusty Pelicans hop onto the stage and quickly turn much of the mostly sitting and relaxing crowd into a standing and dancing crowd. It’s a seriously fun set in a cool new space and a great way to start off the festival. [Josh Hoppert]

• With the eclectic mixture of genres on every bill of the festival, it’s tough to avoid discovering something you weren’t previously aware of. Duckling is a good example. The new-ish band has little to no internet presence, and its midnight slot at The Local wouldn’t be anyone’s first thought as a warm-up for Klassik, yet the pairing is par for the course at Arte. The bass-heavy, grungy trio brings to mind pummeling post-punk from Milwaukee’s past like Centipedes and Cousins, but less vocal-centric and with perhaps a dash of funk thrown in. The set is loud and abrasive and surprisingly danceable. [CR]

Klassik suffers a seemingly debilitating equipment meltdown, finally taking a show-must-go-on attitude and treating the crowd to very bare-bones renditions of some of his most well-known songs, making this performance about as opposite as imaginable from his set at last year’s festival. He also showcases his ever-improving freestyle skills, going on an a capella tear that’s equally as thrilling as any of his singalong moments. Klassik is such a consummate craftsman on record that it’s nice to be reminded of his abilities as a pure in-your-face MC from time to time. This may not have been the type of show he planned to put on, but it’s by no means disappointing. [CR]


• Friday’s festivities start during happy hour at Boone & Crockett. As we enjoy a Camp Radler and a taco on the patio, we take in the end of Jack Tell‘s soothing fingerstyle guitar work. Later, the unmistakable sounds of a Mitch Shiner’s vibraphone lure us inside the bar to take in a frantic, erratic, and altogether enjoyable performance by a jazz-influenced experimental project called Match Stick. As always, Arte is excellent about making each of its showcases an eclectic cornucopia of styles, serving to expose even the most stubborn local listener to something new. [Tyler Maas]

• Though Puddler’s Hall is one of the oldest bars in Milwaukee, it’s one of Arte’s newest venues. The corner tap is christened by none other than Blue Mooners, whose campy country construct fits the space perfectly. Cowboy hat-clad frontman Spud Butler is joined by a bowling shirt-donning backing band, whose vocal, brass, and percussive contributions help take covers of Allan Sherman’s “Camp Grenada” and The Stanley Brothers’ “Mountain Dew” to the next level. Next up, King Eye & The Squirts inject some energy into the 144-year-old hall with sneering and to-the-point garage rock songs about zombies and religion to the delight of the building crowd. [TM]

Painted Caves inspire one of the festival’s most infectious dance parties at Tonic. The group’s sound seems to evolve into something slightly different with every performance, and tonight’s set has a somewhat heavier edge than one might expect based on the band’s lone album, owing chiefly to drummer Noel Chandek and guitar wizard Carl Nichols. “My hope is that whatever money we raise for art supplies, the school children will steal them and make something truly creative,” quips frontman Ali Lubbad. [CR]

• Boone & Crockett is truly stuffed to the gills as Strangelander closes out the proceedings here. This group’s self-titled album came out last December via Steve Peplin’s Bandcamp page. The music of John Zorn is an admitted point of inspiration for this band, which also brings to mind at times the euphoric jazz of Kamasi Washington. Out front and center is Amanda Huff, whose presence has generated a good amount of pre-show buzz. Her sultry vocals are at times hard to make out amidst the six-piece band’s din, but she sounds stunningly good when she cuts through, whether singing lyrics or improvising serpentine wordless melodies. [CR]

Lorde Fredd33’s appearance at Arte 2016 was arguably the most powerful performance of the entire festival, but this year would be more of a challenge to reach his audience, lacking the backing of No Name Noise and trading in the more dramatic atmosphere of Club Timbuktu for the steady, flat white light at Tonic. He does retain Q The Sun, who’s quickly developing a distinctive moody, electronic style as he continues to produce more and more local tracks. Against the odds, much of the chatty crowd gives itself over to Fredd33’s charisma; when he’s at the top of his game, it’s impossible to look away, and he’s in full command of his powers tonight. A rapid-fire, stream-of-consciousness rant about losing your ego and recognizing equality is as engaging as any of his loosely defined songs. He gets the crowd chanting “Para los niños!” towards the end of the set, and once the music stops a bizarre tableau unfolds with Fredd33 seated at a table onstage and eventually venting furiously about something off mic. We’re…pretty sure this was all part of the show. [CR]

• Back at Puddler’s Hall, Direct Hit! chases Mortgage Freeman‘s patently fun and rocking set with a well-attended headlining performance. Between a set that’s fairly even in standouts from Brainless GodWasted Mind, and the newly reissued Domesplitter, the band seems gracious to “all the new faces” who are seeing them and supporting the Arte cause. In learning the band is donating 100 percent of Friday’s merch sales to the benefit, we opt to finally pull that trigger on some of Direct Hit!’s “Domesplitter” hot sauce. [TM]

• Club Garibaldi’s 10:30 p.m. slot features the Allen Cote-fronted paLABra, a foursome designed to crank out some of Cuba’s best known standards with funky classic rock flair. Cote introduces the band in Spanish, and aside from a quick explanation of the set after the third song, everything sang or shouted by members of the band is in Spanish. The Latin rhythms and fun energy of the band puts smiles on the faces of everyone in the room. Not experts on Cuban standards, we can’t honestly say we know any of the songs played, aside from “Quizas, Quizas, Quizas”—the theme from the BBC sitcom Coupling. [JH]

• The “Undeserving Of A Proper Title” video had us excited to catch the live performance by hip-hop hybrid duo Guerrilla Ghost at Cactus Club. It did not disappoint. The group’s stage presence is enormous and their industrial-tinged beats and socially conscious lyrics are certainly winning over the now-sweaty Cactus crowd. [JH]

• Most shows at Arte (and in general) have the customary handful of folks standing around chatting about This Is Us or whatever. Zed Kenzo‘s set at Cactus Club is not one of them. The entire shoulder-to-shoulder crowd appears laser-focused on everything the Milwaukee rapper/producer says and does, and for good reason. [JH]

• Nobody drops his guitar mid-song quite like D’Amato. The funky bandleader treats his Cactus Club audience, as always, to more fun than we probably all deserve. The “icky” lyrics of “Raspberry Fingers” don’t take anything away from this sexy dance party that acts as the cherry on top of a fantastic Friday night in Bay View. [JH]


• It’s a dreary, drizzly Saturday, but at least a handful of non-performers show up early to Lux for the afternoon festivities. There’s no sound system to speak of here, and headliner Mark Waldoch ends up being the de facto sound engineer for some performers. It’s all 20-minute solo sets on the bill, and throughout the day, everyone takes a different approach. Ms. Lotus Fankh takes the opportunity to play several random covers; Andi Action (Sat. Nite Duets Andrew Jambura) lets his inner Steven Wright emerge in between his quirky synth jams; Vincent Kircher hammers away at a beat-up acoustic guitar and belts out his tunes without any need of a mic; and Fivy goes fully experimental on an OP-1 synthesizer, messing around with lo-fi, Burial-esque beats and letting her vocals play a supporting role. Waldoch himself has a far more elaborate setup, including harmonic vocal treatments that turn his potent natural roar into a massive vocoder choir. “Falling Piano” is particularly impressive, after which Waldoch asks, “Anyone wanna go zero to sixty with me?” and quickly drains a tumbler of whiskey. Hey, it’s a festival! [CR]

• As the festivities move from Harambee to Riverwest, yours truly help pass the time between shows with our inaugural Broken Up Band Bazaar. Dozens of people congregate at Black Husky Brewery to browse and buy records, shirts, and other goodies from Milwaukee music’s not-so-distant past. Thanks to the generosity of those who came out, as well as defunct bands/labels, the Bazaar raises close to $400 for the cause! [TM]

• The night gets rolling at Riverwest Public House with River Rats, a shoegazy noise trio that features an instrument swap between each song, landing each member at the drumkit at one point or another. There’s not much in the way of vocals, nor even absolute song structure, but there are definite grooves, and the overall effect is very hypnotic. At times the guitars seem possessed of about ten times the amount of reverb we ever thought was possible, and the clear geeky delight of conjuring up the most extreme tonalities available through these pedal boards is ultimately more art than exercise. [CR]

Genesis Renji has been one of Milwaukee’s most consistent MCs of the past five years or so, churning out his own albums as well as a number of noteworthy guest spots, and wherever he turns up you’ll usually find a terrific hook or a rousing chorus at some point. He doesn’t dwell on old hits, though; his recent drop, “Drown,” is a highlight of the set, and he closes with the new Taj Raiden-produced “Anxiety,” his contribution to the Arte festival compilation and one of the most powerful tracks of his that we’ve heard yet. [CR]

• There have been plenty of interesting covers throughout this festival, but none nearly as life-affirming as Bo & Airo‘s rendition of the new Kendrick Lamar single, “Humble.” It’s made all the sweeter by a verse from “King Kunta” thrown in for good measure. The rap duo’s bass (Bo Triplex) and drum (Airo Kwil) attack is nonstop energy, and this finale absolutely brings the house down. The idea for this band must’ve been based on the novelty of nomenclature at first, but it has developed into a well-oiled machine of pure entertainment. This is one of the most flat-out enjoyable sets of the fest. [CR]

• Mad Planet’s very fun and very loud night begins with a great performance by Teenage Woman, an instrumental rock trio featuring guys from Sat. Nite Duets and (ORB). Members of on-deck Whips, Midnight Reruns, and even Midwest Death Rattle (performing soon down the street) are among the growing crowd enjoying the set. [JH]

• Old iterations of High Dive (Riverhorse, anyone?) were well known for their sonic awfulness when hosting DJ events, but the current setup seems to be nicely dialed in, at least on Saturday night, which is billed as “Close Up of the Serene presents Clean Air.” The music never really stops, so it’s the perfect atmosphere to pop into between sets at other venues and zone out or dance woozily for a bit. We catch the majority of excellent sets by Apollo Vermouth and Tarek Sabbar; the former is primarily vinyl-based, running the gamut between electronic, synthpop, shoegaze, and other obscurities, while the latter is more downbeat and minimalist, though still very entrancing and danceable. People wander in and out constantly, an ever-swirling crowd of increasingly intoxicated revelers, revealing over the course of the night a pretty accurate microcosm of the cultural melting pot that Arte Para Todos has become. [CR]


• We arrive at The Jazz Estate just as Chicken Wire Empire fires up a sweet and simple cover of Bob Dylan’s “Don’t Think Twice, It’s Alright.” Everyone packed into the cozy confines of the Estate quietly sings along and it feels like the right way to spend an afternoon on the last day of Arte. The band ultimately wraps up its set of blistering bluegrass with a singalong of the traditional folk favorite “Goin’ Down The Road Feelin’ Bad.” Everyone in the place leaves feelin’ pretty great. [JH]

• The final set of shows for Arte Para Todos 2017, set in the Back Room @ Colectivo, could easily be subtitled, “Remember these acts now, because they’re gonna be huge.” First up is the transcendent Lex Allen, decked out in a red cape, short shorts, and little else. “How the fuck y’all doing tonight?” he asks before launching into “Keep It Movin.” Allen’s voice is a thing of beauty, effortlessly alternating between rich and soaring and low and sultry. “Puppy Love” is practically a golden oldie by now, but it never fails to engage a crowd. Q The Sun joins Allen on stage for a handful of numbers, including the absolutely devastating “Mamas Boy” and new single “Never Look Back” (due this Thursday). Allen notes that his final song, “Struck Gold,” is about “faking it ’til you make it.” Accompanied by two dancers, it’s clear he’ll be arriving at the second part any day now. [Matt Wild]

• And in the end, the love Arte Para Todos takes is equal to the love REYNA showers on both the fest and its attendees. Sisters Victoriah and Hannah Gabriela Banuelos note that they both grew up playing music in public schools (and later in a mariachi band), and express hope music education will impact the lives of current students in much the same way. As for their set, the former Vic And Gab pull off flawless renditions of their synth-pop mini-masterpieces, including “Kill Me,” “Magazines,” and “Spill Your Colors.” They also make a case for being masters of droll between-song banter: Gab dedicates a new song, “Rebel,” to Glenn and Maggie on The Walking Dead (“Don’t tell me if anything bad happens to them,” she says, before someone yells out a spoiler), and Vic explains that an on-the-surface “sexual” song is actually about her dog (“You press your body against mine / I feel your warmth”). For an encore, the duo digs back to an old Vic And Gab tune, “Love Of Mine.” The crowd is glowing. The band is glowing. Another Arte Para Todos comes to an end. It’s been incredible. [MW]