In Microtones, our newsletter-first column.
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MICROTONES by Scott Gordon, editor-in-chief and publisher
The poster kiosk in front of Grampa’s Pizza on Willy Street must be shedding in preparation for fall. This past Sunday evening, I walked by and saw a great shank of expired promotional material hanging off the thing, as if someone were cutting a slice from a gigantic street-team gyro cone. Some of the flyers underneath dated back to last October, and in the sagging layers of dirty tape and multicolored paper one could read something of a history, the way you might read the rings of a mighty old tree or a cross-section of ancient rock. Here’s where it snowed and the flyers got all soggy. Here’s where a flyer got shredded or scrunched up, in the endless depredations of rival promoters. Here’s where someone’s tape got all twisty in that annoying way. Right here’s probably about when Lakeside Press closed down.
It wasn’t that long ago that a few leading venues and promoters had a sort of understanding that each would use a specific row on the kiosks that dot downtown and the near east side—True Endeavors on one row, the Majestic on another, the High Noon on another, and so forth. The kiosks are city property and supposedly there for anyone’s use, but the people who could afford to send out street teams for regular and repeat flyering inevitably set some boundaries. Now that all the aforementioned things are part of the same company, whatever beef led to that Five Families-style arrangement in the first place is presumably moot.
The big grody peel-off this weekend illustrated that at least some folks in Madison are still serious about flyering, and that it maybe at least provides some promotional reinforcement even as music promoters increasingly rely on digital tools. Every so often you can still see the kiosks bulging or splitting in all kinds of interesting ways, especially the ones on Willy Street and East Johnson, which are big and circular, offering a bit more surface area (and maybe getting less frequent pruning from the city) than the leaner elliptical ones on State Street. When I posted a photo of the unraveling kiosk on our Facebook page this week, one former street-teamer claimed in a comment that the city cleans up the kiosks by lighting them on fire. I’m guessing that’s a joke, but I had fun riffing on the idea of conducting a controlled burn to help the next generation of flyers sprout.
I’m glad that people still make original art for show posters—something musician/documentary filmmaker Wendy Schneider is highlighting with the recently launched Coney Poster Project—although much of the bulk on kiosks consists of flyers that follow a template. But even when they’re just expedient promotional tools, I like the idea that you can still keep up with at least some of the city’s live-music offerings without relying on being constantly online. Hell, I scour online show listings pretty regularly and even I sometimes run across something on a kiosk that I didn’t know about. So maybe these anachronistic paper-pillars in our cityscape are worth it.
New this week:
Mr. Chair prepares to celebrate the release of an ambitious triple album.
Dayna Long breaks down the bogus controversy over school-board member Ali Muldrow’s recent comments about cops and youth.
Comics artist and musician Jeffrey Lewis visits the Record Store Dropouts podcast.
Tickets are now available for the inaugural Infamous Local Fest.
Elsewhere on the Madison internet: Eagles fail. WORT’s 8 O’Clock Buzz talks with Bubbler artist-in-residence Emily Joy Balsley. William Z. Villain made a mix for France’s Casbah Records. This year’s Freakfest lineup includes Lil Yachty, Gin Blossoms, and WebsterX.
This week’s Madison calendar: Hadiza at the Tip Top. My Life As A Dog at UW Cinematheque. And more.
Upcoming Tone Madison Events!
Wednesday, September 11: Avola, Elrond, Saint Saunter, Woodman/Earhart. Communication, 8 p.m.
September 14 and 15: Half-Stack Sessions and Tone Madison Stage at the 2019 Willy Street Fair, featuring Dash Hounds, Teenage Moods, KASE, and more!
September 20 through 22: Infamous Local Fest at The Winnebago and Communication.
December, date TBD: Tone Madison Best of 2019 Listening Party