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Byline: Gemma Tarlach
MILWAUKEE _ This is not your high school battle of the bands.
The international Emergenza Festival, making its Milwaukee debut Thursday, is a multimillion-dollar affair, giving more than 6,000 bands on two continents the chance for high-profile gigs and some lovely door prizes. In its second year stateside, Emergenza is expanding the number of U.S. cities included in its beat-driven battle royale.
Coming to Milwaukee, a festival organizer says, was a no-brainer.
"I was impressed by how original the bands (in Milwaukee) are. Someone like me sees 600 bands a year, and a lot of them are very much the same, not much substance," said Walter Combi, Emergenza's Chicago-based U.S. artistic director and tour manager.
"It's the musicians' attitudes in Milwaukee _ they want to entertain the crowd," Combi added, citing bands as diverse as country-punkers American Death and the Beatles-Metallica live mash-up of Beatallica as evidence of a thriving local scene.
Combi, a native Australian, moved to Chicago in 2003 to prepare for Emergenza's U.S. debut. He's overseeing the festival's continued expansion into the U.S., including its first round of competition in Milwaukee, beginning Thursday at Vnuk's Lounge, …