Depending on who you’re asking, the 7.6-mile, 12-minute drive between Linneman’s and Cactus Club might as well be a trip to the moon, an ocean away, an impossible trip to the other side of America. As close as Riverwest and Bay View are, some residents of go months, even years without setting foot in the different zip code. Occasionally, that neighborhood rift extends to bands and fans of Milwaukee music, who are either too set in their ways to book/attend local shows away from familiar haunts, or not plugged enough into that region’s (remarkably similar) scenes to land gigs easily.
Bay View bar and occasional venue The Tonic Tavern is trying to address this problem with its new SXRW (South By Riverwest) concert series, which will find a Bay View playing with a Riverwest act every other Wednesday between tonight and the end of April. Tonight’s installment pairs The Cavewives with Riverwest (by way of Slinger) blues rock trio The Young Relevators playing only their second show in Bay View over the course of the band’s two-year run. Before the series kicks off, Milwaukee Record met The Young Revelators on their home turf to discuss the supposed neighborhood disconnect, the SXRW series, and the band’s new album.
Milwaukee Record: What was the pitch when you were approached for this series? Was the Bay View-Riverwest theme emphasized?
Ben Michalski (bass): Paul [Jonas] from Tonic just approached us to see if we were available. We’ve never played with The Cavewives or really talked to them much, but we really like the music. Yeah, the whole South By Riverwest-kind of thing was definitely part of it.
MR: As a band in Milwaukee, is that something you notice—the Bay View and Riverwest rift?
Frankie Martinez (drums): Not really, honestly. I feel a lot of Riverwest bands also play in Bay View, and Bay View bands also play here and on the east side. I feel there are more venues [in Riverwest], so I see more bands play here, even if they’re from Bay View.
Alejando Martinez (vocals, guitar): I think there are some good venues in this area and likewise in Bay View, you know? Cactus Club, Tonic, Frank’s Power Plant.
MR: Yeah, the neighborhoods are 10 minutes away on the highway, but in a way, it seems a world away for certain people who would rather wait for a show in their own neighborhood. Do you find it was harder to get people from Riverwest out to your show at Frank’s?
AM: Yeah, we definitely get more people to come out in Riverwest or on the east side. It’s tougher to get them to come downtown and out to Bay View.
MR: Why do you think that is?
AM: I have no idea. Maybe Bay View just seems far away to some people.
FM: Not all of our friends have cars. They just rely on buses and don’t always want to rely on cabs.
AM: We’d love to play Bay View more, but we don’t really get approached to play too many shows there and we don’t know many bands there.
MR: Though you say you don’t really notice much of a rift between neighborhoods, do you feel Tonic’s new series will help to give people a sampling of each neighborhood?
AM: Of course. It can’t hurt. People from here have a reason to go down there to check out a band they might now, and people in Bay View will get to see a band from there and might get to see a Riverwest band they’ve maybe never heard of.
MR: And with it being on a Wednesday—when there’s usually not as much happening—and it being only $4, people from both neighborhoods have extra incentive to go investigate it. This week’s pairing of you and The Cavewives seems like a really good fit. Both of you are playing moderately psychedelic, classic rock-tinged material. What do you think about playing with them?
AM: I think it’s great. I love playing with bands that are rock-based because it just brings people together who like shit that’s in the same vein basically. It seems like a good way to get your music out there to the right audience.
Sometimes when you go to shows, it’s a rock and roll band, then a folk artist or something, and some people are only into one or the other. With something like this, hopefully we can get everyone to mesh.
FM: We don’t really know a lot of other rock bands in town, so it’ll be cool to meet another rock band, too.
MR: This show also doubles as your unofficial Milwaukee release show for physical copies of your album, right?
AM: Yeah, we finally have physical copies ready for the show. It’s the only way you can buy it, unless you get it online. We made it zero dollars on our Bandcamp so people have a way to listen to us. We’re just trying to get our name out there so people in Milwaukee know we’re actually a band, I guess.
BM: It’s the first time we’ve ever had something you can hold in your hand, and look at, and get a vibe of what it might be like when you listen to it. We’ve never had that before—official copies.
MR: And you’re happy with how it turned out?
AM: It’s the most proud of anything we’ve ever done so far. I was super-critical about it. When I listen to it, I just hear the parts I don’t like, not the parts I do like, you know? This one, I’m like…97 percent happy with it.
The Young Revelators will open for The Cavewives at The Tonic Tavern’s inaugural installment of the bar’s SXRW concerts series. Cover is $4 at the door. The series will take place at Tonic every other Wednesday through April. A full lineup is forthcoming.