RECAP: Social Cig’s “Cheesehead” Release Show

By Riley Marks

June 28th: Parker Schultz, frontman of hotter-by-the-day, locally loved band Social Cig texts me about his upcoming album release show at The Back Room at Colectivo. The text exchange ends with “grab tickets sooner than later we think it will sell out” 

August 17th: Social Cig’s album release show for their newest album Cheesehead sells out. With a lineup entirely composed of local musicians, it’s the first sold out show at the Backroom since March. The excitement builds as spare tickets are now a hot commodity.

August 20th: Social Cig, Bug Moment, Scam Likely, and DJ Megadon play The Back Room at Colectivo, a crowd of 300+ people.

At the close of a summer full of basement and club shows, Midwest tours and a sold out showing of a locally made feature length film, three bands and a DJ play a show which they unanimously agree was their best show yet. The Back Room being a venue that usually hosts nationally touring artists, the literal and figurative stage was set for these musicians to shine. The roomy space filled in quickly. Christiaan Cocroft aka DJ Megadon noted that “It got packed, not even 10, 15 minutes after doors.” His set opened the night up on a great note. With a disarmingly well put together mix of everything from local rap to the newest Beyonce, he got the people moving. 

It was Social Cig’s album release show so the spotlight can’t be stolen from them for too long, but the other musicians that played also had a huge role in making this show so special. Take Scam Likely, who’d only been a band for five months at the time. 

“It was the best night of my life” says their lead singer Charlee, without hesitation. Almost every song would begin with a stream of consciousness (most notably one where she told her mom how badly she wants to drop out of college) which creeped into a scream to be met by the band laying down a driving punk soundscape. Their stage presence was compelling to say the least—and the energy went both ways. When asked about the feedback from the crowd, drummer Cary Dean said that “From the drum chair [I could see that] these people are eating up like, everything Charlee is saying.” The set got everyone so amped that Charlee was able to crowd surf by the end of it.

Then came Bug Moment, whose recorded music which has a “Bedroom pop” sound according to lead singer Jasmine, has evolved over the last year and a half of performing live into a “borderline emo, shoegaze” kind of sound. Which is all the better to match their almost-brooding-but-not-lacking-energy vibe on stage. The energy was, in fact, far from lacking. Coming off the show, bassist Elias said “My neck was [..] stiff and sore for three days after, because of how much I was moving on stage.”

 They too caught a great feeling from the Cheesehead album release show. After 15 months of gigging, “Colectivo was the moment where we were like okay, everyone’s locked in.” Says Elias. Even the backstage provisions of beer and Ian’s Pizza were a sign that they were on the right track as a band. Guitarist Grey said “That’s some stuff I imagine they’d do for […] a touring band. I live a couple blocks away!” Their set also got rowdy enough for a stage dive, only this one was caught on camera in a photo that rivals the cover of Playboi Carti’s “Die Lit”. 

And then came the band of the hour—Social Cig, the brainchild of Milwaukee native Parker Schultz. Their set was multifaceted. They played a mix of the songs that launched their rise in Milwaukee’s scene as well as new tracks from the album which further develop the band’s DIY, self-titled “apple core” sound. A warm blend of surf and indie rock that goes hard at some times and takes it easy at others.

Highlights of the set being a uniform of sweater vests and two shoeys (beer chugged out of a shoe, no bullshit), their energy was both welcoming and electric. And in Milwaukee rock show fashion, the kick-ass energy went both ways. But more generally, Parker noticed that this summer, “there’s been a new energy in the city and the scene.” And this album release show proved to be no exception. 

Though the backroom show certainly “sparked some different kinds of conversations,” according to drummer Kai, they all feel that the first inflection point that got them on the path they now find themselves on was the addition of guitarist Jacob and bassist Austin. Since their joining the band, Social Cig has torn up the local club and bar tracks plus landed a gig opening for Australian touring indie band Wet Leg. But that said, their sold-out show has the group looking eagerly ahead to what’s coming. Kai states that questions like “where do we go from here, are we ready to take the next step, and what do we think that really looks like” are all on the table now. 

But don’t get the wrong idea, they’re still dreamers with good heads on their shoulders and an orientation towards collaboration over competition. As is everyone else who was on the lineup that night. Ducky’s statement, “It was fun doing it with Social Cig and Bug Moment cause, they’re the homies”, sums up the sentiment well. The strong sense of community is integral to the ecosystem that is this scene. From personal friends swarming around with cameras (check out Whatisavisual’s video of the show) to every performing musician being in the crowd at some point, the sense of locality alone made for a special atmosphere. Not to mention that The Back Room at Colectivo is a wider space and has a bigger stage than most other local venues. Past that, Aidan, drummer of Bug Moment, mentioned that “I don’t think a single thing went wrong”, a detail echoed by the other bands. The artists were well taken care of. What could have been better? The collective artistry of Milwaukee’s east side showed out at The Back Room at Colectivo on August 20th. And it sounds like the tide is only starting to rise. A great summer for local music culminated in a show that bordered on sublime. They’re all still actively performing—go catch one from any of these bands before they go global.

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