Halloween 2014 at the Whammy Bar

Around the Western World, Halloween is a night of costumed mischief, candy, and partying. With Jesus playing drums for Mötley Brüe and Conniption in succession, and defeating a guitar wielding Satan for best costume, Halloween 2014 at the Whammy Bar in West Allis was easily the best party of the weekend.

From the outside, Whammy Bar looks like another West Allis dive. Upon entering and ascending a short flight of stairs to pay an $8 dollar cover to a zombie, the bar proved to be a step above the common dive with an updated appearance and cheap drinks, though it seemed terribly cramped. Despite being so small and narrow that the stage was cramped to the point that the bands could barely fit their equipment, let alone perform, the Whammy Bar proved to be a great venue for the night’s festivities. Cheap beer and rock music is always a winning combination. Throw in spooky and hilarious costumes, and a horde of rockers and metal heads, and you’ve got one fantastic Halloween party on your hands.

Opening the night of hard rock and heavy metal was the Mötley Brüe, a tribute to the legendary Motley Crüe featuring Andy Martin, drummer of local thrash metal favorites, Conniption, in the guise of Jesus Christ. Even if one doesn’t particularly care for the Crüe, the Brüe wowed the audiences with a shockingly awesome rendition of ‘Kickstart My Heart’ as their opening tune. But who could question a band with the lord and savior behind the drum kit?

Puns aside, Mötley Brüe was a hard rocking act that not only played their favorite Crüe tunes, they played them hard and they played them well. From the hard hitting tunes like ‘Kickstart My Heart,’ “Knock em’ Dead Kid,” and “Red Hot” to the power ballad ‘Home Sweet Home,” the Brüe kept the crowd grooving and involved. Singer Eddie Martinez, tested the crowd’s Crüe knowledge on several occasions passing the microphone to crowd members standing in close proximity to provide guest vocals. The end product was an amusing exercise in Mötley Crüe’s continued influence on the Milwaukee rock and heavy metal scene. Most impressive was the speed and technicality in which bassist Mathew Danbeck, and guitarist Peter Braun, were able to play. Many see Mötley Crüe as a simplistic heavy metal band from a bygone era but after watching a foursome of Mötley Crüe diehards rock the stage, all of those in attendance would beg to differ.

Due to unfortunate circumstances another of Milwaukee’s hard hitting cover bands, Thrasher, featuring Conniption’s demonic guitarist, Bill House, who ironically came dressed as Satan in a zoot suit, could not play that night ending hopes that Thrasher, Conniption, and Mötley Brüe would share the stage together for the first time. To fill the gap, Mötley Brüe and Conniption each played an extended set, which more than made up for the absence of Thrasher. However, the night wasn’t the same without hearing Anthrax’s ‘I am the Law’ played live by some fellow Milwaukeeans.

Of course, it wouldn’t be Halloween without a costume contest. Though not everyone in attendance participated, those who did made for an interesting time, for among their ranks was a crowned knight of the Templar, Neo from the Matrix, Satan, Jesus Christ, Blackie Lawless of W.A.S.P, Betty Boop, the Mad hatter, an unintentional Tom Petty look-alike, a cat-lady, and a French maid. With humorous anecdotes, the evening’s bartender eliminated contestants one by one based on crowd reaction until all that remained was Jesus and Satan. Spurting out humorous lines of their own to win the crowd’s approval, Jesus ultimately came out victorious prompting the Prince of Darkness to proclaim angrily, “Damn it! He always wins!”

Following the hilarious costume contest, which netted the winner a $100 dollar bar tab, and the ultimate loser a bag of pork rinds and a 40oz bottle of malt liquor, Milwaukee’s premier thrash metal act, Conniption, took the stage. For those new to Conniption, the band’s appearance was more than enough to draw one in, for leading the band was a knight of the Templar portrayed by lead vocalist/guitarist Michael Brigham, supported by lead guitarist Bill House as a suavely dressed Satan, bassist Cody Dziuk as Neo of the Matrix, and drummer Andy Martin as Jesus Christ. Together the outrageously dressed thrashers finished off the night with a slew of hard hitting tunes from their two albums ‘Kamikaze’ and ‘Time Has Come’ as well as a few fan favorites including Megadeth’s ‘Hanger 18’ and Rage Against the Machine’s ‘Killing in the Name of.’

In the end, Halloween was well spent at the Whammy Bar. It may not be as spacious as The Rave or the Metal Grill but it threw one hell of a Halloween party. Here’s to hoping for more great rock and metal shows in the near future.

Mötley Brüe – Milwaukee’s Only Mötley Crüe Tribute

Though often confused for one another, there is truly a difference between a cover band and a tribute band. A cover band simply plays the hits, while a tribute band mimics the band of their choosing to perfection. Motley Brue of Milwaukee, Wisconsin is the definition of tribute band.

Established in 2012 as an ‘80’s hard rock cover band by Milwaukee hard rock mainstay Matt Danbeck (Mr. Deagun Jones) and his longtime friend, Pete Braun, Motley Brue quickly rounded out its lineup with Andy Martin (Conniption) and Eddie Martinez (Category X). Within a short time of formation, the band decided that the cover band route was already done to death in the Milwaukee scene, but didn’t quite know what to play.

“We were kicking around some ideas and I figured if you’re going to play a bunch of cover songs you should play the most kick ass band out there,” says Braun in respect to his favorite band of the 1980’s, Mötley Crüe​

Not long after decided to play exclusively Mötley Crüe tunes, the band decided to take the tribute one step further by emulating everything that was the Crue on stage. Three years later the band is still rocking out the legendary tunes made famous decades ago. Some may wonder why a band of talented musicians would want to spend their free time playing someone else’s songs, so Braun puts it simply.

“We all have been doing these original projects, but in the last couple of years we realized that if you really want to get out there and make some reliable money, you got to play covers. That’s just the Milwaukee scene. We all love original music, but if you want reliable money, you have to play what the people want and the people want covers.”

Of course, it’s not all about money, either. Mötley Brüe is mostly about having fun and taking a break from their original projects. Once again, Braun has a simple answer why the cover scene is more profitable than the original scene.

“It works. Over the three years we’ve been together, every time we think about altering the formula, it all falls apart. We just stick to what we’ve got,” remarks Braun. “We’ve gotten a strong reaction from day one. All four of us love the Crüe and we’ve discovered that there are a lot of others who love it, too. It’s good quality American music.”

Of course, it’s not just the recognizable music that makes Mötley Brüe a local sensation, but the way they present it. Though only Braun dresses up the 1980’s regalia, wig and bandana included, the key to the band’s success is their dedication to studying the music and stage presence of the Crüe and replicating it. This is especially evident in the vocal delivery and overall passion seen in front man, Eddie Martinez.

“Eddie is the crucial piece. Eddie is one of the few guys in Milwaukee that can do it like Vince Neil,” says Braun, while Martin adds, “His range, his tone, it’s his natural voice. He’s not trying to mimic anyone, it’s his voice. ”

Rest assured, Martinez isn’t the only asset the band has, for despite what some might think, Mötley Crüe’s music is not as easy as it may seem.

“They’re wildly successful for a reason. Their songs are simple but they’re not easy. You listen to it and it sounds like it would be easy, but it’s not. It’s straight up rock’n’roll, but there are those little nuances. That little offbeat about how the kick follows the snare. There’s that little tiny difference that makes the song,” says Martin.

And it’s their mastering of these little nuances and odd notes that separates Motley Brue from the pack. Having seen the Brüe on two occasions, one thing is for certain that this band hits everything that is Mötley Crüe on the nose. Of course, not all aspects of the Crüe can be replicated this day and age, especially by men with families and responsibilities.

“That’s the biggest difference between us and the Crüe. The Crüe, in their heyday let all go for broke. None of us are willingly to go that extreme. I mean, we’ll go up there and rock out, but we still have our dignity,” says Braun. “Mötley Crüe is legendary for their antics. You know, backstage, groupies, titties everywhere. Truthfully, we’ve seen a little bit. We have some stories to tell, but most of the time it’s pretty straight forward,” says Braun.

“I like to rock out, but I have a regular job and a relationship focus. Just because I’m playing Mötley Crüe songs doesn’t mean I can act like Tommy Lee,” adds Martin, though he likely wouldn’t mind being the legendary rocker.

“All of that stuff is a little over the line for us. We pay tribute. We love those guys, we love their music, and we do everything we can do to study it and portray it the best we can,” remarks Braun.

Clearly their act is working, for although they get a strong reception in their hometown, it’s elsewhere in Wisconsin where the band finds its biggest crowds, which on average surpasses one hundred people. Strangely enough, most of their fans are women.

“This is the first band I’ve been in where our following is more so female. I’m used to the sausage fest, so I really enjoy that,” Braun says with a laugh.

No matter dominant demographic of their fan base, one thing is for certain with the Mötley Crüe – they’re keeping the legend of the Crüe alive and having a hell of a time while they’re at it.

Now that you’ve read the article, it’s time to witness the Brüe firsthand. The following video is a full set of the Mötley Brüe playing the Rebel Rock Stage at Milwaukee’s famed Summerfest in 2015, courtesy of Eddie Martinez.