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Rockin’ Reunion: Decadent Cabaret keeps 41st annual music festival alive despite Metro fire

Andrew Patrie

BACK TOGETHER IN THE NAME OF ROCK. Eau Claire band Touch Is Automatic recently reunited after 22 years, and they’ll be performing once again (and releasing a new album!) at Decadent Cabaret 41 March 5-7.
BACK TOGETHER IN THE NAME OF ROCK. Eau Claire band Touch Is Automatic recently reunited after 22 years, and they’ll be performing once again (and releasing a new album!) at Decadent Cabaret 41 March 5-7.

It has been three years since Decadent Cabaret, about to celebrate its 41st incarnation, shifted locales from the House of Rock to The Metro. And while the event was always something of a nomadic beast (the Stones Throw, the VFW, even the Unitarian Church on Farwell Street have all hosted in the past), 422 Water St. felt like home. I asked longtime event curator Brent K. how it was going and if he felt any homesickness. “The Metro has been working out great,” he said. “This year we’re doing two stages, which is something I’ve wanted to do since we moved here.” 

“Decadent Cabaret is always a blast. We are really happy to be playing it again after all these years with our friends, the original lineups of Voodoo Love Mint and Venison. It was not to be missed.” – Greg Robertson, Touch Is Automatic

However, late on the night of Feb. 10 – less than a month away from Decadent 41 (scheduled for March 5-7) – a fire ignited in The Metro’s kitchen. While it was eventually contained, the show had to go on someplace else. The beast was back on the move, now relocating to The Labor Temple at 2233 Birch St in Eau Claire. When I spoke with Brent K. the day after the fire, he was taking it all in stride: “We’re not going to let a fire stop something that has gone on this long.” Once again I was reminded of Decadent’s resiliency: You can’t keep a good act (or 45) down.

 One act, in particular, hasn’t played a show in these parts (or anywhere else) for 22 years: Touch Is Automatic. A staple of the ’90s Eau Claire music scene, along with Voodoo Love Mint, Three Liter Hit, and Venison/Drunk Drivers, I was gobsmacked when I learned of their reunion. I reached out to bassist Greg Robertson for the details. “The first time we’ve all been in the same room together [since spring of 1998] was this past January,” he said. 

Photo: Lee Butterworth
Photo: Lee Butterworth

I asked Robertson what it was like playing together after all this time, if it took a while for the “muscle memory” to kick back in for himself, vocalist Dojo Holliday, guitarist Matt Hart, and drummer Brandon Johnson. “It feels like picking up right where our last show left off,” he replied before adding, “Though I will say, during rehearsals, there was a lot of discussion as to why we never wrote any slow songs.” 

As for why the decision was made to reunite now, Robertson said, “(When we broke up), we had just finished recording what would have been our third album and we never had a chance to mix and release it.” 

“Those tapes were found this past fall,” he continued. “We sent them to be restored and then to a studio to be mixed, and it was around this time the planners for Decadent Cabaret reached out to us to see if there was any chance a show could happen, so everything fell into place.” 

I asked Robertson what it means to play Eau Claire, specifically Decadent Cabaret, again. “Decadent Cabaret is always a blast,” he said. “We are really happy to be playing it again after all these years with our friends, the original lineups of Voodoo Love Mint and Venison. It was not to be missed.” 


Decadent Cabaret 41 is happening March 5-7 at its new location, Brickhouse Pub & Grub at The Labor Temple, 2233 Birch St, Eau Claire. Tickets are $12. Physical copies of Touch is Automatic’s third album, I’ll Sell the Broken Glass, You Sell the Nails, will be on sale at the show. It will also be available on iTunes and all of the streaming sites.