With their long-standing presence in the Madison music scene, the boys of Post Social have established themselves as the face of do it yourself music venues.
DIY venues are small-scale settings where artists can take a full creative reign without the interference of larger corporations.
Vocalists and lead guitarists Shannon Connor and University of Wisconsin senior Mitch Dietz, as well as bass guitarist Sam Galligan and drummer Brendan Manley have conquered rising DIY music venues in Madison. From Art In on East Washington Avenue to Communication just off Winnebago Street, the foursome have established a repertoire with local, small-scale venues.
I met up with the group before their show in the parking lot of Communication, the venue wasn’t letting anyone in until they finished setting up an art exhibit. Allegedly, nothing out of the ordinary for one of the many DIY spots in the city.
Joined by special guest Isaac de Broux-Slone, who performed with Post Social during their set later that night, the six of us had a conversation about the future of the group. We also discussed where DIY venues fit within it all while being fervently chewed on by avid mosquitoes.
Sitting in the back of Dietz’s van, I asked what DIY venues meant to the group.
“My understanding of the music scene here is if you’re going to be a local act, you need a bread and butter venue. I would say The Frequency was definitely a bread and butter venue,” Dietz said. “We would hit them up and book the show whenever we wanted to. They didn’t care where you were from or how big you were. But now you have to do some stretching to find out.”
When it comes to bread and butter venues, artists know they can be trusted. These places allow groups like Post Social to play shows at any given time.
The group often performed at The Frequency prior to its closing. Now there aren’t many places left that are considered mid-level venues. Communication and Art In are considered the places to be if you’re not a touring band or on a label.
Although admitting the group isn’t very ambitious, Connor said he’s disturbed by the current corporate nature of the Madison music scene. Dietz agreed, citing the flaws larger names in the city create for lesser-known groups.
Multinational corporations like Live Nation, who purchased major interest of Frank Productions have been detrimental for small time bands. Live Nation Madison is now allowed to acquire booking rights for the High Noon Saloon, Majest Theatre, the Orpheum and the Sylvee, Madison’s newest performance spot.
Despite what seems like a takeover of Madison’s music scene, with bread and butter venues like Communication, Post Social can continue to explore the genres they play.
Their latest record, Major Congrats, bounces around alternative, indie and rock with a somewhat sarcastic title. A funny quip with no overt message, the record mainly portrays how the guys talk to each other. Though not sarcastic people, getting the joke of the album requires sharing a mindset.
The first couple minutes of the lead track “Outside Man” comes to your ears with nothing but madness. All of Post Social jamming as if they had already played a 20-song headliner was a satisfying feeling — once it was actually recorded. The group was recording the song live at the same time in the studio, so if one messed up, there had to be a new take. It was the first song the group recorded for the album, which came with added pressure.
“It’s an easy song to play, yet when you have to play for six minutes straight and do it five times, eventually you just stop giving that live energy,” Galligan said.
Although recording the first song may be the hardest, it took less than 10 attempts to get the recorded audio 100 percent right. Gilligan claimed he had no faults during the first few attempts, before eventually admitting fatigue and being the source of several mistakes.
The songwriting process is very collaborative with Post Social. All four at some point or another do most of the songwriting on a given track, though Connor and Dietz are responsible for most of the riffs.
“I start writing the riff or Mitch starts writing the riff, that generally will lead to ‘this is going to be my song,’” Connor said. “There are lots of times where Mitch or I will write lyrics to each others’ riffs and the songs grow that way.”
One song grew on their friend Morgan Winston, who directed and starred in Post Social’s one and only visual with “Better Off Dead.” The group agreed Winston was a great director who got the job done on time while having it turn out exactly as imagined.
During filming, what made everyone in the band uncomfortable was a scene where Connor, Dietz, Galligan and Manley all played their respective instruments in the face of Winston. The group stood mere inches away from Winston, staring through cigarette smoke. Inhaling the nicotine was something Dietz said he could’ve lived without.
The four Madison boys have produced an album every year before letting Casablanca breathe after its 2016 release. Dietz said Post Social’s priority is almost always recording and getting new music released — at least that’s how it’s been for a while.
With as large discography as they do, it’s surprising Post Social has a nonexistent touring schedule. The group is seeking to perform outside of the Isthmus, targeting moves after December when Dietz graduates from UW.
“Art In and Communication are going to be two really good bread and butter venues,” Dietz said. “They’re not corporate, not like another bar or business that can afford to do shows on a few weekdays. It’s a great venue and we really believe in what they’re doing.”