This year, I made a point to address my grossly overdue attendance. The Festival is a major contributor to Milwaukee as a community – it pulls humans from all over the world to sit before a screen and experience something totally original. And how lucky are we to have a catalyst like that based in the belly of our city? I recently sat myself in the semi-comfortable red seats of the Oriental Theater and became a part of the energy and community of the Festival.
I didn’t sit, though. “Stop Making Sense,” a concert film with the Talking Heads, was in the main theater at the Oriental at 11 p.m. last Saturday. I had zero expectations and now realize that was probably the best way to approach it.
I’ve spat curses at the lake wind in February while walking outside, wrapped in a burrito of scarves. I’ve had Kopp’s custard and cried tears of joy. I’ve lived on the East Side for nearly four years, but I’ve never been to the Milwaukee Film Festival – until now.
Suddenly, the four of us were hopping and flailing and clapping
The film opened with vocalist David Byrne doing an acoustic version of “Psycho Killer.” Minutes in, I noticed the eager sprouting of dancing fans within feet of the main stage and the rows of seats. The energy of the Talking Heads burst from the screen and flooded the aisles, saturating everyone there.
As the concert went on, more and more people took their friends and their half-full beers to the aisles. “Burning Down the House” burnt down the theater and I saw some chick sprint to the front completely alone and whip her body into an un-patterned, unplanned frenzy of dance moves.
Before the film, my friend and I had befriended two other guys that were in line. Suddenly, the four of us were hopping and flailing and clapping through the rows of seats and around the theater. “Once In A Lifetime” blasted from the speakers and Byrne swayed onto the stage in his iconic huge suit. The energy of the concert blended everyone together, birthing a massive congo line that plowed through crowds and circled the seats. Popcorn peppered the ground and stuck to my shoes. I even punched one of the several beach balls that floated around the theater.
We left buzzing. My hair looked like I had just microwaved it on high for two and a half minutes. The atmosphere in the theater was something unreal – like I had just left a sock hop with a hundred of my closest friends. That’s the kind of power the Festival brings to Milwaukee: total strangers, shoulder to shoulder, jumping to the tunes of the Talking Heads.
It was a total party, man. You should have been there.