Borg seeks bang with your bucks

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Pop-infused heavy metal band Torche rocks the Borg. Photo courtesy of Peter J. Woods.

There are three things needed to put on a great concert: talented musicians, a welcoming venue and a receptive crowd. The Borg Ward, 823 W. National Ave., has all three, but it is missing something crucial – a working PA system.

Members of the Borg seek to rectify that discrepancy with a benefit show this Friday and Saturday dedicated to amping up their sound quality.

The Borg Ward is a collective of artists and musicians that has been active in Milwaukee’s music and art scene for about three years. The versatile space hosts concerts and art galleries, provides a practice space for musicians, houses studio space for artists and, for some, even serves as a home.

The Borg has a reputation for being open to a diverse spectrum of art and music, featuring anything from noise to indie to hardcore genres – sometimes all in one night.

According to Peter J. Woods, a member of the collective, the Walker’s Point venue is a completely do-it-yourself, not-for-profit organization run by the people who use it. There are no booking agents, and the Borg’s focus is on having music and art exist together in one space.

“It’s not about profits,” Woods said. “It’s about really creating something.”

Woods is setting up the benefit and is also the bassist for Coelacanth, a two-piece band performing at Friday’s show. While a lot of touring acts come through the Borg, he said, this weekend’s two-day event is made up entirely of local artists donating their time.

Friday’s show will feature indie and rock-based bands, while Saturday night will be more focused on metal and hardcore groups.

“That (Saturday) is going to be the super loud show,” Woods said. “A lot of my favorite bands in town are going to be playing this.”

Stephen Bradford, a senior in the College of Nursing, plays regularly at the Borg with his sludge/hardcore band Slob Donovan and will be playing the Saturday show. He was interested in music when he came to Marquette but didn’t know very much about the city’s scene.

“I feel blessed that I found the Borg — or that the Borg found me,” Bradford said.

Bradford said he likes the Borg because it is extremely inclusive with the kind of music it supports, and because it is so close to Marquette’s campus.

“I think it’s a great place to get a taste of what the Milwaukee music community has to offer because a lot of people play there,” Bradford said. “It’s a good place to start, anyway.”

Erik Stenglein, guitarist and vocalist for sludge metal band Northless, will also be playing the Saturday show. He said the Borg has lacked a consistent and suitable PA system for too long, frequently borrowing inadequate gear in a pinch.

“Sometimes you can’t hear the vocals of the bands when they’re playing,” Stenglein said in an e-mail, “which is a problem if you like hearing vocals as a listener, and also a problem if you’re in a band that’s playing the Borg and you can’t hear your own vocals much, if at all, while you’re playing.”

Stenglein said the proceeds from this weekend’s shows are intended to enable the venue to overcome those problems by purchasing a reliable PA system that can handle the loud and heavy music frequently performed there.

“Vocals will be heard. Drums will be mic’ed …  Attendees will be obliterated by a louder and fuller overall mix,” Stenglein said in an e-mail.

In addition to the nine bands performing, there will be limited edition Borg Ward shirts for sale and a raffle with all proceeds going toward the new PA. Prizes include Alterra coffee and a coveted Borg Ward quilt and pillow made by Woods’ mother.

The Borg Ward benefit show is this Friday and Saturday night at 7 p.m. Tickets are $7 each night at the door or $10 for both nights, and all proceeds go toward a new PA for the Borg.

Peter J. Woods plays bass in his instrumental duo Coelacanth at the Borg Ward. Photo courtesy of Peter J. Woods.

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