Midwest Original Music Fest: A Three Day Celebration of Music in the Park


Written by Brett Kihlmire with Photos by Tom Callahan

For three days the Milwaukee suburb of Franklin was host to a festival that many call the last hurrah of summer. The Midwest Original Music Festival, better known as MOM Fest, brought together more than 50 musical acts from across the spectrum and rocked Croatian Park.

Always happy to support our local scene, our photographer Tom Callahan and I went out to MOM Fest on the second night to catch the last few hours of the show. What we found was more than a concert in the park; it was like a rock’n’roll commune. The entire grounds were taken over by food trucks, carnival games, and two stages at opposite ends, making for a lot of fun for the whole family. And though we caught the tail end of Living Several Deaths, there was no question about it, they rocked the house.

The first full set we were able to catch was the politically charged hard rock band from Milwaukee, American Zeros. Dressed in a mix of biker, punk and police clothing, the band was quick to draw in the crowd with their sound check and stage gear. Of the whole band, it was lead singer and rhythm guitarist Citizen X who stood out the most with a bulletproof vest and a black cadet hat. Of course, their look was nothing compared to the music they played. American Zeros rocked out a slew of hard hitting tracks from their recently released debut Red, White, Black, and Blue, including ‘Liar,’ ‘F(ull) M(etal) J(acket),’ ‘Johnny’ and the fan favorite, ‘Capital.’ And though the band didn’t play my personal favorite, ‘Evel,’ their set was simply awesome. The guys rocked hard and pulled no punches with their message and presence. I’m definitely looking forward to seeing these guys again.

Finishing off the night was the undisputed king of the Milwaukee metal scene, Conniption. Though I’ve seen these guys well over a dozen times in the past three years it’s impossible to be bored watching these guys tear it up onstage. Playing a slew of hits including ‘State of Sin,’ ‘Let the Wolf Out,’ and ‘Relentless Tides,’ the thrashers unleashed a pair of fresh, unreleased tunes. One was ballad that captivated the audience with the gorgeous melodies and emotion sent from the guitars of Bill House and Michael Brigham. The other tune, entitled ‘Sweet Revenge’ was the polar opposite. This one was an ass kicker through and through! Shredding lead guitars, blasting drums, and chugging riffs had the entire crowd banging their heads and cheering loudly as Michael Brigham delivered with his powerful voice marked by his classic rock meets thrash vocal style. All in all, Conniption is a band you absolutely have to see live. Their three full length albums kick serious ass, but their live show is second to none. Booking these guys as the Saturday night headliners was a wise choice, no doubt.

Though I was only able to make the second night, MOM Fest was a big hit for sure. The grounds were packed with music fans of all ages and the extensive, all-day lineup made for a great day. Not to mention, the food and beer prices were more than fair – I can’t argue with a five dollar craft beer and a wide range of food trucks offering up killer cuisine like barbecue ribs, hot wings, and burrito bowls, especially when the flavor is outstanding. There’s no doubt that I’ll be waiting eagerly for MOM Fest 2018, and if it happens, I’ll be there all three days. Hopefully next time I can make it for Circleswitch.


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