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Bully’s big sound, even bigger emotions coming to X-Ray Arcade

A woman in a white tank top and blue jeans looks at the camera with her elbow resting on her knee and her hand holding her head.
Bully / Facebook

Bully’s Alicia Bognanno seems to dig Milwaukee in an equal-opportunity way. She’s brought her grunge-punk-rock project to the city plenty of times in the past, hitting Anodyne, Cactus Club, the Cooperage, the Back Room and even Radio Milwaukee HQ (please enjoy the very retro Studio Milwaukee Session experience via the player above).

When Bully returns to town Sept. 16, Bognanno will be able to cross another venue off the list: X-Ray Arcade.

The show presented by Cactus Club is an all-ages affair that’ll feature plenty from Bully’s new album, Lucky for You, out June 2. It’s been three years since we last got an LP from Bognanno, a gap that lines up with her decision to get sober. But she says the new record pulls inspiration from a far more emotionally raw place: the death of her dog, Mezzi.

“Mezzi was my best friend. “She made me feel safe and empowered,” Bognanno explained. “She showed me that I was worth loving and never judged me or viewed me as a let down. I always felt accepted, understood and so much less alone. Mezzi was living, breathing proof that I was worthy of being loved.”

Bognanno has given us two singles to chew on so far: “Days Move Slow,” written shortly after Mezzi’s death, and “Lose You,” a team-up with Soccer Mommy that we’ve been playing on 88Nine. The two tracks show off the big sound that’s become Bully’s hallmark, injecting energy into the delicate subjects of grief and loss. According to Bognanno, there’s more of that to come on the wider album.

“With every record, I feel more and more secure in terms of doing what I want,” she said. “For this one, I wanted to be as creative as possible with these songs.”

Get a close-up of Bully’s creativity at the X-Ray Arcade show presented by Cactus Club on Saturday, Sept. 16. Tickets are $20 and on sale now.