How WebsterX (indirectly) furthered my love for Milwaukee
a shoutout to many
The first time I took notice of a local act was during June of 2012, at the time 15 years old, seeing Fresh Cut Collective open up for The Roots at Summerfest. I genuinely enjoyed their music, enough so that their RE-FRAME (part one) EP was in heavy rotation on my iPod for the weeks following, but I would say a large part of what inspired me to actually download their music was the overwhelming fun energy they brought out on stage and the intimacy of being a band from Milwaukee. For the period of time I was really listening to FCC, I frequently had the thought, “Is this really something I would be listening to if not for being from Milwaukee”? Not in the sense that I was questioning whether or not I would have discovered them, but pondering whether or not I’d be giving them my time if they were a band from LA that I had stumbled across online. How overwhelming was my subconscious bias? At some point, FCC was no longer in the rotation of stuff I was listening to, and my little glimpse into local music didn’t really materialize. That is, until…
Sometime this past March, I came across WebsterX’s ‘Doomsday’ video. I thought it was a cool song and a cool video, particularly since it involved scenery that was part of my hometown. Within a week or two of me seeing it, a couple of my friends started talking about WebsterX. I was surprised they were familiar. In fact, they were much more familiar than I was, and put me on to more of his music. With that, a local act was in regular rotation for me again. And again, my earlier thought returned: “Would I really be listening to this if WebsterX weren’t from Milwaukee”? During April, my friends and I took notice that WebsterX was going around to visit high schools in the area, talking to kids and selling some shirts. After quite honestly a fairly weak plea (8 Shorewood kids tweeted at him), he agreed to make a stop by Shorewood. That was a weird feeling; it should have not been that easy. Even with the acknowledgement that in the grand scheme of things, WebsterX isn’t really a famous person, my friends and I definitely felt pretty cool and accomplished for a couple days there.
So he came. On 4/20. Along with his manager Nick, and Siren (who I am embarrassed to say I didn’t even realize sang Doomsday at the time). It was definitely a strange little event. There were 25 or 30 kids there that knew what was going on, and then a whole lot of people lurking around campus who didn’t and were utterly confused. The group that knew what was going on had some really good conversation with WebsterX, or Sam, as he introduced himself, who pretty much just left his brain open for picking. The conversation went both ways, with Sam expressing interest in who we were as well. He explained the ‘Webster’ part of WebsterX as coming from Webster’s Dictionary, and basically just the idea of being very articulate in word choice as he writes. This was very apparent just in conversation with him – he is extremely well spoken and really has a unique way with words. Even without knowing who was speaking, a transcription of a conversation with WebsterX would scream WebsterX. After we all chatted, Nick played an unreleased song called ‘Lately’ (yeah, that one) on a little Bluetooth speaker and Sam rapped along. He was super comfortable pouring his heart into the song even in front of just a handful of kids awkwardly standing around him. I felt like I really knew him just based upon the limited conversation we had, because he was so genuine, and because his personality shined through in his passionate performance. This would be the first of many times I’ve now seen him perform, and the first of two on that particular day, as he was so generous to give a handful of my friends and I free tickets to his show at the Miramar that night. The intimacy of such a small audience wasn’t necessary to further that notion for me; I got the same exact feeling at the show that night and each time I have seen him since.
Unlike my first run-in with local music, that particular day really materialized with me, and I have been infatuated ever since. Through WebsterX, I quickly became familiar with New Age Narcissism (funnily enough, Kiran Vee and Christopher Gilbert, who I saw open for The Roots in 2012, are now part of No Name Noise, New Age Narcissism’s backing band) as well as Soul Low and IshDARR. Through one band or artist, another, and from that band or artist, another. I quickly became familiar with just about anyone relevant in the area, and started going to as many shows as I could (… the all ages ones :( ). I frequently try to strike up a conversation with the artists that I go to see, and I’ve found that quite a few strike me in the same way WebsterX did – I feel like I know them much better than I really do. With all this being said, I still haven’t answered my own question about whether I like local music because it is local music or because I like the music that happens to be local. And I’m not definitively going to. But I will leave you with this: I saw Klassik along with Three. Stacks. Eliot at Brady Street Festival this summer, and he brought up my question during his performance. I hadn’t given any thought to the fact that it would even be something that artists think about. But he addressed the question, assuring the audience that what’s going on in Milwaukee right now is really going on. People around the country are taking notice, and not just blogs. Artists are recognizing that Milwaukee is a place to be right now. Take what you will from Klassik, but I don’t think he is wrong.
Something that is very clear to me about WebsterX is that he sets out to inspire. Needless to say, he inspired me, in some ways very indirectly. Through taking a liking to WebsterX, I took a liking to lots of local music. Through taking a liking to lots of local music, I have gained a desire to go and see lots of local music. And through that desire, I spend time in lots of different parts of Milwaukee I otherwise would not, and have truly gained a much better appreciation for the city that I live in. My sentiment for Milwaukee isn’t brand new, but it is now much stronger than it has ever been.
Shoutout NAN (all of you), Klassik, IshDARR, Three. Stacks. Eliot, Vonny Del Fresco, Soul Low, Ladders, Piles, New Boyz Club, Airo Kwil, Bliss & Alice, GGOOLLDD, Mic Kellogg, Milo, Holy Sheboygan!, The Fatty Acids, Dream Attics ( :( ), Kiings, Midnight Reruns, Sat Nite Duets, Foreign Goods, Aluar Pearls, Canopies, SAFS Crew. Go listen to their music. There are quite a few others I’m sure that I forgot and I am sorry.
Bo Triplex (and his Beautiful Band) gets his own special shoutout for replying “Ask Evan” when someone yelled out asking what his band’s name was while playing at Center Street Daze, and for just generally being super goofy and super friendly. Go listen to their music too.