Outdoor “Riverwest Arby’s” Lot Brings Shows Back Social-Distance Style

We at Breaking & Entering miss shows – a lot. Like many music lovers, we aren’t comfortable with the idea of going to shows at venues again just yet. But the Riverwest DIY scene has come to the rescue.

Matt Glassel of Tsunami MKE (formerly Nausicaa) has facilitated performances from local artists at the empty lot on Center and Pierce St known colloquially as “Riverwest Arby’s.” Social distance protocol is in place; masks are required to attend while hand sanitizer is provided. Mingling with neighborhood folks is strongly encouraged, but responsibly.

Friday evening’s show featured honky-tonk heroes Hughes Family Band, hip hop poet DaveKevinAdam, and DJs Goodboi and Rottwylin as part of the Riverwest24 weekend.

“The name Riverwest Arby’s came about from a rumor that an Arby’s was going into this open lot,” Glassel explained. “It became known as that as a joke but then it just gained traction from there. It’s a catchy name…as soon as you hear that, everybody knows what you’re talking about.”

This was the second Riverwest Arby’s show; the first took place a few weeks ago and featured DaveKevinAdam and punk band Peroxide. Artists plug their equipment into an extension chord coming from the window of the neighboring house. A different Milwaukee community organization or initiative is selected for folks to make donations to; on Friday it was Leaders Igniting Transformation and Diverse & Resilient.

“My band Peroxide and I were just saying that in all this quarantine, what’s the most viable way to make a bad situation good? The idea was to do a show in this lot…we played (that first show) with Kevin, and it went so well that I knew there needed to be more of these, and here we are. We’re doing it again multiple times as long as the weather stays nice out and venues can’t house bands. There’s a lot of people out there that wanna be playing music because it’s a release for everyone. We’ve gotta deal with what we have. We wanna make sure the lineups are diverse and that we’re giving voices to people that deserve to be heard. I don’t have the actual lineups finished, but the dates are most likely gonna be the 8th and the 22nd.”

Glassel signs off by telling us what live music means to him.

“That’s a loaded question (laughs). It’s bittersweet because right as Tsunami was up and running, the quarantine hit, and I was only able to have one show right at the cusp. I miss it a lot. It was something that prior to at Nausicaa, it was my pride and joy for a year and a half. Not being able to continue it is unfortunate but you’ve gotta be smart about decisions with keeping yourself and your friends safe. I’m putting my efforts into other stuff I’m working on both musically and artistically, but in the meantime booking stuff at Riverwest Arby’s is filling the void.”

The show raised three-hundred and fifty dollars for LIT and D&R, to be split evenly.

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