words by Cal Roach
Admit it: You miss Summerfest, don’t you? That unhippest music festival of the summer really has its perks–chiefly, cheap day passes and proximity! Sure, this weekend is Festa Italiana, which is similarly cheap and nearby, but somehow the plethora of music isn’t quite as exciting (while the food and beverages are even more enticing, at least in theory). But like most of the lakefront ethnic festivals, Festa provides a real chance for cultural exploration along with the kitsch and cliché that comes with any such Americanized event. Plus, that familiar smell of alcohol-soanked asphalt will bring back nostalgic feelings from two weeks ago! Read on for more enjoyable options coming your way this week.
If you want to experience the feeling of community brewing–particularly of the hip-hop persuasion–there’s nowhere you want to be on Friday (today!) except the TRUE Skool Block Party & Boat Cruise. Dubbed “Recall The Kulture” (“Recall” obviously not in the political sense!), this is an all-day event celebrating the local scene with a collision of music, dance and art. The block party begins at noon at Wherehouse and features No Half Steppin Crew (Raze, Logic and AUTOmatic) as well as Rusty Ps. Then you’ve got the 7:00 hour to freshen up; the boat launches at 8 p.m., and WMSE’s own DJ Bizzon will be providing the audio accompaniment to your complimentary food and cash bar (also spinning: DJ Trini). These first two portions of the event will both feature New Orleans MC Dee-1 in addition to the great lineup of local talent, and to top it off, there’s an afterparty at Wherehouse until 2 a.m.! Hope you took the day off work!
Or, head over to Cactus Club, where Maps & Atlases will be appearing in support of their new Beware And Be Grateful album. (Local connection: Guitarist Erin Elders grew up in Pewaukee! You needed to know that.) The band plays a unique blend of folky, math-y post-rock with plenty of room to stretch out, and it might even make you dance. Ditto for Chicago cohorts A Lull, who just released a follow-up EP to the excellent 2011 debut Confetti; you will surely be able to get your hands on a vinyl copy of the awesomely-titled Meat Mountain at this show. Trust us, this band is amazing live. Also playing: Milwaukee’s own Canopies, and if you haven’t checked out their EP from last year, do so now!
Of course, you could also go for the sure thing and check out Collections Of Colonies Of Bees at Club Garibaldi, especially if you’ve never seen the band before. Few groups have changed their sound as radically over the years as these guys; we’ll be damned if you hear any bluegrass influence in the modern-day version of the group, which has moved over the past year or two from huddling over laptops and pedals to just rocking out with anthemic instrumental rock that almost screams “arena.” They may still be feeling out this new direction live but it’s fun to watch the continuing evolution in real time. Also playing: a couple of New York indie-pop bands touring on brand new records, In One Wind and Leverage Models.
If you like infectious, danceable post-punk, Mad Planet is the place to be Saturday night. That room should prove perfect for the eclectic, maddeningly (oops) catchy music of Milwaukee’s Worrier. It’s the kind of stuff you can chant along to pretty quickly, or let your brain follow the weird guitar noodles around and around until you go crosseyed. Joining Worrier will be At Latl, another local group who released a celebrated album of mousey indie rock, Safe, Sound And Temporary, back in 2010, got lots of good press and then vanished; here’s hoping this is an indication that the band is gearing up for a new release, or something. Also playing: Battlesnake, presumably not the Melbourne band with this name…
Also happening Saturday night: Sugar Maple hosts an evening of weird music (or, if you want a more palatable tag, “experimental”), as Chris Forsythe brings his wall of guitar textures to Milwaukee. Expect lots of acoustic and electric loops combined in a mesmerizing collage of sound. And if that sounds right up your alley, be sure to arrive on time (show starts at 9 p.m.) for Milwaukee’s own Black Eagle Child, another maestro of haunting rhythms and pedals and the occasional ebow, and if you’re lucky he’ll have some records and/or cassettes for sale at the show. Also playing: harmoniumist/electronicist Jaime Fennelly, aka Mind Over Mirrors.
If you’re up for some live music on Monday night, drop by Bremen Café for a quartet of singer/songwriters that are sure to go great with beer and shuffleboard. Topping the bill is Minneapolis folkster Brian Wheat, a guy who’s probably sick to death of Tesla jokes so we’ll skip it. Plus, if you live in Milwaukee but haven’t yet heard the city’s soul as captured by Jonathan Burks, you’re not getting the full experience. He put out two albums last year, and you can hear the rough mix of a new album, How I Roll, at his Bandcamp page (linked above). Also playing: Burks cohort Allen Cote (also a Heidi Spencer cohort, in case you were wondering) and Sarah Gilbert.
Of course, if that all sounds too mellow, you’ll get your chance for some brain-frying noise Wednesday night at Cactus Club, when Providence, RI’s Tinsel Teeth (the name makes your head hurt just thinking about it, doesn’t it?) storms into town. A lot of bands get categorized as noise; few live up to the literal definition of the word quite so perfectly. Of course, two of the best noisy bands in town will also be on the bill: straight up punk in under a minute per song doesn’t get much better than Holy Shit!, nor does blistering, paint-peeling, instantly-memorable noise rock get much better than IfIHadAHifi. Also playing: Doomsday Student.