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Studio Milwaukee Session: Speedy Ortiz

Jen Ellis

The range of music that has rolled through our performance space for Studio Milwaukee Sessions this summer has been an unbridled joy to experience. Rap-infused jazz from Kassa Overall, Kiltro’s supersized Latin folk-rock, the discodelic sparkle of Say She She — it’s been a couple months with variety to spare and quality across the board.

But, hand to heart, I’m a “guitars and drums and damn the earplugs” guy who has been spoiled rotten by the room-filling rock from the last few weeks: Claud followed by Wednesday followed by today’s visit from Speedy Ortiz.

In town for a nighttime show at X-Ray Arcade, the Philly four-piece’s sound check seeped into our second-floor office space with the promise of a high-energy/decibel noontime set for the Radio Milwaukee members in the room and everyone tuning to 88Nine. The performance delivered, with four tracks from their just-released album, Rabbit, Rabbit, punctuated by Sadie Dupuis’ stage presence.

The band’s lead vocalist, guitarist and lyricist bobbed and weaved her way through each song, but the thing that caught my attention was her use of the guitar pedalboard. It seemed like she revisited the setup every couple seconds to ensure it delivered the proper effect while still keeping her vocals on point.

For the mid-set interview, 88Nine’s Marcus Doucette invited the band to provide a little context for what we just heard from the new album, including how they opted for a title that leans on a centuries-old superstition meant to bring you good luck on the first of every month.

“I’ve said it since I was a little kid,” Dupuis explained. “I grew up with and still have OCD. I had a whole bunch of weird rituals and superstitions as a child. Thankfully, I’ve outgrown a lot of that part of OCD, but I do still say, ‘rabbit, rabbit.’ And, as some of this record broaches childhood trauma and coping mechanisms learned as a kid … it felt like a cool, synchronous thing to pick an embodiment of that kind of coping mechanism that’s such a fun phrase and seems a little magical.”

Dupuis, bassist Audrey Zee Whitesides, guitarist Andy Moholt and drummer Joey Doubek all took a turn revealing little stories behind Rabbit, Rabbit, including the particularly impactful (and occasionally painful) desert locales you can literally hear on the LP.

Speedy Ortiz will bring those sounds to X-Ray Arcade tonight with support from Poolblood and Milwaukee’s own Scam Likely. For your pre-show entertainment, use the player at the top of the page to hear the full interview and three of the four songs they played for the lunchtime room of Radio Milwaukee members.

If you want to ditch the FOMO and catch the full sets of every Studio Milwaukee Session, become a member today or wait for our upcoming Fall Drive, when you’ll be able to get an extended preview of what our members get to experience at our sessions. We have five lined up for the first week of our drive, Oct. 2-6, and they’re all open to the public. Check out the schedule on our Community Calendar, and make plans to join us.

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Set list

  1. “Ghostwriter”
  2. “Plus One”
  3. “Scabs”
  4. “Cry Cry Cry” (non-broadcast performance)