Home Music The Hamburgers prepare for a long-awaited reunion at Mile of Music

The Hamburgers prepare for a long-awaited reunion at Mile of Music

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The Hamburgers as a band ended up sharing some of the same attributes as the high-energy songs they burned through at any given gig. 

The Appleton-based punk outfit played hard, played fast — and they were done before you knew it. 

On Saturday, the band and its fans will relive it for 50 minutes during a reunion show at Mile of Music. It’ll be their first performance together in nine years. It’s been 14 years since members went their separate ways. 

Guitarist Walt Lontkowski — better known as Walt Hamburger — has had some anxiety about the show. There’s plenty of excitement, but there’s too much they can’t know until the crowd assembles and they strike the first chord.

“We pre-date Facebook,” he said. “Who knows if anyone who went to those shows will know or care?”

They’ll play Saturday at 6:25 p.m. at the Alley Project aside the History Museum at the Castle. 

Drummer Mike Sirola recently moved back to Appleton after spending a decade as a Georgia resident. Bassist Ben Kastner moved to Chicago. 

RELATED ARTICLE: The Mile is a marathon for singer-songwriter Walt Hamburger

Tim Schweiger and Jared Schmidt round out the band. They’d been approached by other festivals for a reunion, but the logistics didn’t work. 

With Sirola back, Mile of Music and Appleton seemed to be the right place to make it happen.

The Hamburgers started in early 2004 and went full speed out of the gate. They recorded two records and played any venue that would give them a stage. Walt recalled playing three shows in one day. They were done by the end of the summer of 2005.

As for the reunion, the first step was a big one for Sirola.

Punk demands a certain stamina and it took the first rehearsal to know whether he had it.

“I’m old and fat now,” he said, “The prototypical middle aged man playing in a punk band. I was legitimately afraid I was going to have a stroke or a heart attack. It didn’t happen.”

Lontkowski found it a cathartic experience.

“It was shockingly good,” he said. “We didn’t know if we’d remember the words, but I think we played better than we played back then. It’s like riding a bike, I guess.” 

They’ll bring the fun, high energy sound they became known for, but the show will have some tweaks from those of years back.

They didn’t work from setlists back then. That’ll change and filling it took some effort, Lontkowski said.

“Fifty minutes is a long time for a punk show,” he said.

Sirola couldn’t complain about the venue — it’s within walking distance of his new home.

At some level, they’ve had to play it by ear.

The recent severe storms wiped out one of their rehearsals. The Hamburgers won’t have their first full band rehearsal until the night before the show.

Lontkowski said one of the bright points of his grueling solo schedule during the festival is that it’ll keep him from overthinking it.

“I don’t know what it’s going to be like,” he said. “We sincerely enjoyed playing together then. We sincerely enjoyed playing together (at rehearsal.)”

Rehearsal offered reason for optimism.

“It didn’t suck and our main goal is not to suck,” he said.

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