Negative/Positive Rocks Out at Riverwest Public House

Young indie rockers Negative/Positive played a killer set to an enthusiastic crowd at Riverwest Public House alongside Fox Face and Cherry Punch Friday night. It had been a belated EP release party for their January release “Kicking Me in Both My Shins at the Same Time,” which is accompanied by lead single “I Usually Take Death at Twice.”

Negative/Positive consists of vocalist/guitarist Ava Gessner, bassist Lola Flores, and drummer Ava Antonie. The girls are fifteen-sixteen years of age and have been playing together since elementary school.

“I didn’t think we’d stay together at first,” Antonie said. “I thought it was just a thing I’d go to maybe once every two years and I’d have fun and meet new people…but then as we kept doing the band I felt I had more confidence at first because I didn’t know we’d be playing in front of people and I thought it was just a “fun” thing. And it is a fun thing to do…but we released an album, we recorded, we played for these bigger things…so there’s definitely more pressure but we can still have fun with it.”

“At first I never thought we’d go this far,” Flores said. “We’ve been in magazines, we’re on a billboard…it’s cool.”

“When I joined of course there was that “oh my God, we’re gonna become world famous!” and that was the nine year old voice,” Gessner said. “We wrote a song called “Kiwi on My Shoe” that was about stepping on a kiwi…we had a very childlike view on it and now it’s cool to keep that energy but as a serious thing.”

When Negative/Positive began, they were only playing one song at a time for shows. They started playing through Girls Rock MKE, which eventually led them to more high-profile gigs at Milwaukee summer favorites such as Chill on the Hill, Riverwest FemFest, and Summer Soulstice in 2017.

“We played Chill on the Hill when we were really young and didn’t have a lot of songs, so we were basically the openers for the openers,” Gessner laughed.

“All of our song titles are just dumb things we say,” Antonie said. “We have a list of like a hundred weird song titles.”

“We aren’t a sub-par band because we’re younger,” Gessner added. “Sometimes that gets to our head cuz people will come up to us and be like “aw it’s so great that you’re children!” and it’s kind of hard to remember that everyone has their own different energy and performance.”

The girls will be attending Ronald Wilson Reagan College Preparatory High School this year. They speak on the difficulties balancing the band with everything else going on.

“I’m in three sports all year-round and I have summer running and wrestling,” Flores said. “It’s hard for me to find time sometimes.”

“If you can do all the things you love and still not water it down, I just try to push through,” Gessner said. “I do theatre stuff at school and I give that my all, and then I go home and give myself time so I can practice and give music my all…and then there’s homework.”

Negative/Positive has time in the studio booked in August for a new single. They play Tonic Tavern’s 10th anniversary on Sunday at 3pm.

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