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Milwaukee Concert Pick: Speedy Ortiz at X-Ray

A woman holds four toy rabbits and looks at the camera with a wry expression while two men and another woman stand alongside her.
Speedy Ortiz / Facebook

Milwaukee’s concert scene has a lot going on, so we look at the shows coming up to find the ones you’ll look back on and be glad you went. Then we add them to our weekly Milwaukee Concert Picks.

Philly-based indie rock quartet Speedy Ortiz took five years to put together their latest, Rabbit, Rabbit, and it was totally worth the wait. With introspectively fierce lyricism and a grunge-y punk flair, Speedy Ortiz has racked up the accolades since the album’s release at the beginning of the month while also making a high-profile visit to NPR’s lauded Tiny Desk.

On Rabbit, Rabbit, guitarist and singer Sadie Dupuis dug headlong into buried, lifelong trauma, looking to at least lessen its effects on her adult life, even if she can’t completely extricate herself from its long grasp. Its slow creep had her processing things through songwriting, channeling emotional fury constructively.

Holding an MFA in poetry and serving occasionally as a creative-writing teacher, Dupuis recently shared the backstory on “Scabs” (the insanely catchy Speedy Ortiz song 88Nine has been rocking all summer). It was born out of observing a single element of a vast pandemic cultural shift that had Dupuis questioning the state of humanity.

Dupuis told Stereogum, “I wrote this song in the post office. I have a voice memo of me humming it in the post office. I can’t believe I did that. But it was about seeing other customers at my post office, which serves a huge portion of West Philly, just berating a postal worker. It was [around] the same week as some budgetary cuts and just employment changes. I went home and wrote a song rather than reprimand someone publicly.”

Taking that immediate emotion and turning it into a furiously churning retort may not have a direct impact at first glance, but the song’s message definitely has a ripple effect and is a satisfying reminder that, at the end of the day, kindness always wins — and that if you don’t mind your manners, maybe you’ll end up at the end of Dupuis’ pen as a villain worth screaming about.

Bring your best behavior to see Speedy Ortiz in person at X-Ray Arcade this Thursday, Sept. 21, with Poolblood and Scam Likely opening a show that kicks off at 7 p.m. Speedy Ortiz also has a Studio Milwaukee Session at noon the same day, and you can join us in person if you’re a Radio Milwaukee member. The set will also go out live on 88Nine over the air and via our mobile app.

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88Nine Music Director / On-Air Talent | Radio Milwaukee