LIZ VAN PAY

the ramblings of a music journalist and nearly-published author.

Posts Tagged ‘wisconsin

This is our team.

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Since Sunday, I have been piecing together just what to say to explain what happened to Green Bay that night.
If you don’t know me, you should know this: I was born and raised on the west side of Green Bay, Wisconsin. I grew up fifteen blocks from Lambeau Field, went to gymnastics class with Reggie White’s children. The Packers were a giant part of my childhood, and as an adult, nothing has changed. The weekend after the NFC Championship game, I got a G tattooed on me.

When the Packers won Super Bowl 31 in 1997, I was in fifth grade. ESPN came to my elementary school. I remember standing on the side of the street and Gilbert Brown slapping my hand when the buses came by with the welcome home parade. Those memories will never leave me, much like the new memories made on Sunday, February 6th.

The Green Bay Packers are not just a football team. Sure, we’re the smallest market in the NFL, but the love for our team is unlike anything I’ve ever seen, or felt, in my entire life. The city is full of shareholders who either bought stock after the last Super Bowl win or when it was first offered for sale. We financed the renovations to Lambeau Field with our sales tax. Did people complain? Yes, but not as much as you’d think. The Packers are the heart and soul of Green Bay, and their fans tie not only the city, but the team together.

The Packers didn’t just win the Super Bowl on Sunday. Green Bay, Wisconsin won the Super Bowl, and goddamn did we celebrate.

The game was easy going in the first half and nail biting in the second. I remember sitting at the party making people hold my hand because I was so nervous. Watching the clock tick down those last five minutes, I was speechless. I couldn’t form words. When the clock went from 30 seconds down, the feeling was indescribable. We ran around, hugged each other, and then took to the streets.

We ran downtown as fast as was humanly possible, even though it was freezing and the fireworks weren’t for another hour – I wasn’t even wearing a jacket. We ran downtown to be part of it. Cars were driving up and down the streets, horns honking, people screaming, everyone running around. When we got to the corner of Walnut and Washington, there were police cars in a road block, a van from the WIXX radio station playing Weezy’s version of “Green and Yellow” on a loop, and the street was full. Reps from the Press-Gazette were selling copies of the ‘WORLD CHAMPS’ special edition. I remember taking a swig of beer from an old friend I hadn’t seen in forever, hugging and high fiving everyone, and dancing in a slew of cop cars. I remember smashing bottles on the bridge. I remember how elated everyone was. We’re all family, and it was proven on that night. Green Bay exploded, and the feeling is incredibly difficult to explain.

We have always been known as Titletown, and today, we brought that trophy home for the first time in 14 years. The words are hard to find, but there are two words I can think of to try: hell yes.

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Written by Liz Van Pay

February 8, 2011 at 11:26 pm

Archives: Fall Out Boy show review.

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photo by liz van pay

From the diehard fans littering The Rave’s parking lot and sidewalks before the doors opened to the lucky ones who found themselves crushed against the barriers of the stage in the Eagles Ballroom, Fall Out Boy’s ‘Believers Never Die, Part Deux’ tour brought equal parts energy and entertainment to the stage, from the beginning chords to the final shrill screams of the fans who couldn’t get enough.

Hey Monday, Metro Station, All Time Low and Cobra Starship served as the sold out show’s openers, and complemented each other as the perfect segue into the headline act. Hey Monday’s energetic brand of female-fronted pop punk warmed up an already excited crowd for not only the remaining bands, but for their headline show back at the Rave on June 24th.  Lead singer Cassadee Pope ran and jumped around the stage as if she was on a pogo stick, and truly drew the crowd in and served as the perfect beginning to a show whose openers made the show’s headliners look like amateurs. From Metro Station’s original “Shake It” to All Time Low’s cover of Blink-182’s “Dammit”, each and every one of the show’s openers had something to say, and each and every ear in the room heard them on Saturday, May 16th, 2009. Cobra Starship front man Gabe Saporta took a few minutes during a lull in the band’s set to “thank each and every person in the room for allowing him to make music and have fun with his friends”, and “show that if you want to do what you love, there will always be people to support you”, prior to launching into the song “Kiss My Sass” – an inspirational anecdote from the seemingly fun-seeking band who was responsible for the theme song from the 2006 film Snakes on a Plane.

Since Fall Out Boy’s last trip to Milwaukee brought them to the U.S. Cellular Arena, it’s quite obvious that the Chicago native quartet have ‘made it’. From the large video screens prefacing their 90-minute set with footage of riots and the band all dressed as politicians, it was clear that a typically fun loving pop-punk band had something to say, and they dressed the part from the word ‘go’. Their set began with “Disloyal Order of Water Buffaloes”, and continued through songs from their newest release, 2008’s Folie A Deux, through their catalog and including singles “Dance, Dance” and “Sugar We’re Going Down”. By the end of the set, the band had foregone their staunch suits and donned more comfortable stage clothing, but had seemingly forgotten the high-energy shows that many fans are used to seeing, to the dismay of some as the band stood in their spaces, not running around as their openers had. Hey Monday’s Cassadee Pope came out to lend some assistance toward the end of the set, and the band also pumped it up with its’ cover of Michael Jackson’s “Beat It”, which served as a saving grace and truly ended the set on a positive note, with the show’s patrons screaming the lyrics of each and every song back at them ten times louder than the one before it.

Written by Liz Van Pay

August 3, 2010 at 4:26 pm

One of my favorite haunts: Blackbird Bar, Milwaukee.

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A couple of weeks ago, I wrote a piece for Milwaukee Magazine’s Bar Time Contest, on one of my favorite spots in Milwaukee, Bay View’s Blackbird Bar. While the piece has not yet been posted on the website (and I’m not certain that it will be at all – selection can be a bitch), I felt it was worth posting right here on the ol’ blog. If I am selected for contention I will let everyone know – just because every vote counts! Let me know how you feel, and if you’ve patronized Blackbird, if you think I’m at least a little bit correct.

Small bars are a dime a dozen in Milwaukee, and most are downright forgettable. The scene plays out as it has so many times before: you walk in, grab a beer, and walk out – maybe you have a decent conversation with a stranger to pass time after a long work day or in an attempt to extend last night’s bender. At Bay View’s Blackbird Bar, leaving without a memorable experience and a smile on your face is not an option. Situated at 3007 South Kinnickinnic Avenue, it can be difficult to find unless you’re looking for it (as it can be best described as a storefront space), but once you do, you will have found your new favorite watering hole.

Laid out in an open style with classic Milwaukee kitsch throughout, Blackbird is a non-discriminating hometown bar that makes you feel like part of the family just for walking in the door. With most drink specials under $5, these good times won’t break your bank, either. Happy Hour runs from 4-8 PM every day and offer $2 taps of Schlitz and Riverwest Stein, $3 microtaps and 2-4-1 well drinks. Find yourself going out for a drink a bit later in the day? Nightly specials are for you, beginning at 9 PM and changing on a regular basis. With twenty bucks in your pocket, you can get a great buzz going in a fun atmosphere with wonderful people from all walks of life. Any night of the week, you are assured great conversation. Sports fan? You can always just enjoy a beer while watching a Brewers game on one of two flat-screen televisions in the front bar area.

Speaking of the kitsch – there are large, intricate paintings of various blackbirds on the gold walls in the cozy back booth area. In the front bar, bright blue walls are complimented by gold lion statues circling the two large booths across from the long, padded (dare I say comfortable) bar. It seems like a small place from the outside, but spacious once you walk in the door. Depending on the nature of your visit – coming in to catch a post-work beer or with a group to celebrate a birthday or other event – there is ample and appropriate seating for either. Trying to pinpoint a genre for Blackbird is impossible, as there are always new faces and new goings-on that ensure boredom will never be a concern.

Looking for fun on a Thursday night? Every night from 7-9 PM, Blackbird hosts ‘Team Trivia’, a popular event in Bay View with prizes and snacks for attendees. Monday nights have been coined ‘Metal Mondays’ from 7-9, featuring – you guessed it – metal music and even more drink specials.

Open since 2008 and replacing the building’s former occupant The Groove, Blackbird has created its’ niche as more than just a bar. It is the perfect marriage of bar and coffee shop, of great people and even better times. With more than just beer, Blackbird offers many different veins of amusement. Televisions (of course), board games, always-changing pinball machines and the always-popular photo booth are just a few items that ensure your great times at Blackbird are all but guaranteed with just one stop.

Written by Liz Van Pay

August 2, 2010 at 8:37 pm