New East Side DIY Venue Debuts, Action Jelly and So Zuppy Perform

So Zuppy.

A new basement venue on Milwaukee’s East Side hosted their first show Wednesday evening, having Action Jelly and So Zuppy being the home-turf acts. New Chicago emo project Thank you, I’m sorry and Minneapolis “chill bop” band Getting By also played, the former of which playing only her second show ever.

While the venue’s official name is not set in stone, it is currently known as “The House in the Middle.” The address is not currently being disclosed.

“I put this show together and I was a bit scared,” Action Jelly drummer Josh Ehlke said. “I’ve been very anxious today and seeing people come out is very relieving.”

Action Jelly is the brainchild of Ray Allen, who sings and plays guitar. After putting out two songs with Ehlke in 2016, bassist Cassidy DW came on board. Their most recent project, “Wipe Yr Tears,” dropped two January’s ago and is on Bandcamp.

“It’s been a project I’ve had for quite a few years,” Allen said. “On and off I was battling through depression and it wasn’t a priority for awhile. I met Josh outside a show and said we should jam sometime.”

Ehlke added that they were outside Cocoon Room, which is also where he and Ray met Cassidy.

“Statures was playing and Cassidy was playing drums. We were talking and then Cassidy came out and I said “nice set dude!”, and then right after Ray and I released the two songs (Cassidy) was like “dude I really dig the Action Jelly stuff.” And then a year later Cassidy’s in the band.”

“When releasing (Wipe Yr Tears) I was thinking about abandoning the comfort in sadness, because we all fall into social groups that bond over being sad all the time,” Allen said. “I’ve found myself around those people for awhile, and that’s what the project was for me.”

Allen is pleased Milwaukee is taking its talent more seriously.

“We’ve always had talented people in the city but there’s more efforts to help people succeed. It seems bars actually pay people now.”

Action Jelly played all new songs that are part of their upcoming record.

So Zuppy is the project of Micah Foust, who describes it as “music from a forgotten dream.” His sound can be thought of as lo-fi bedroom pop that plays with unusual time signatures and upbeat samples. His most recent EP “Shadow” came out last year; it is a departure from his full-length 2017 album “dream.avooo,” featuring more polished production and rumbling melodies.

“Shadow represents how we hide through social media and crop the shadows out of our lives and we present this sparkly image to the world. We envy other people for having such a crystal clear image of themselves, and those songs are birthed with that in mind. The album cover goes along with that too, it’s a guy that looks like he’s walking but then he sees his shadow and he’s actually holding a gun.”

Foust says he doesn’t take inspiration so much from other artists, but from life experiences.

“Through childhood you kind of learn things to cope and survive but I feel I’m in a state where I’m trying to unlearn those behaviors. I’ve been writing about hometown blues.”

The project’s name originates from a series of dreams Foust had.

“I used to go by a different stage name and I got tired of it. I was trying to come up with a different name and I had a couple dreams; one was where I was walking through this empty carnival area and there was a bunch of papers blowing in the wind and I was trying to chase and catch them but I couldn’t. By the end of the dream I had picked one up and it said “So,” and then I woke up. A little while later I had a dream of this little creature I was calling a “Zuppy;” it had the body of a horse but the head of a dog and it was bright blue, and it was running around this house and it had a really good spirit….so I wrote it down not really thinking it would come to anything but when I was coming up with the name I found it and decided on it.”

Foust said he has illustrated this “Zuppy.” He is currently working on a new record and plays Nausicaa MKE with There Are No Thieves In This Town and Apollo Vermouth April 5th.

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