words by Cal Roach
2011 is almost over, but odds are some of the best Milwaukee musical performances of the year haven’t even happened yet. Get ready for one last blowout of a weekend before things quiet down for the holidays and such.
That’s right: another festival! It’s one of those multi-venue doohickeys our city is fond of, but the whole shebang is conveniently located within a single neighborhood. Yep, it’s Riverwest Fest II! We hope you don’t have to work late, because the event begins at 3 p.m. today (Friday) at Jackpot Gallery and goes until bar time, then starts right back up tomorrow at three. We’re talking Fatty Acids, Group Of The Altos, Fresh Cut Collective, Sugar Stems, Absolutely, Brief Candles, and that’s just a handful of names from the nearly fifty artists over two days and eight venues. Check out the full schedule here. You will be sorry if you miss this.
If it feels more like a Bay View night to you, Cactus Club will play host to local post-punk outfit Worrier for a sort of noisy, experimental dance party night. It’s a great local bill all around, also featuring Sleepcomesdown (who are currently at work finishing up a new album); superb indie/noisepop stalwarts Disguised As Birds, who have released two excellent EPs over the past couple of years; and Oshkosh’s Haunted Heads.
Also playing Saturday night, in Riverwest but not officially part of the fest: The Trusty Knife will cram itself into Circle A Café for a heated set of frantic, eclectic rock and roll. The band hasn’t been particularly prolific lately, but word on the street is that new material is in the works, so if you’d like to be the lucky guinea pig, hit up “that one Riverwest music club” on Chambers & Weil at 8 p.m. sharp.
Otherwise, if you’re more in the mood for storytelling than music, you can’t go wrong with the Ex Fabula Holiday Spectacular, starting at 7:30 on Saturday night at Turner Hall Ballroom. The theme of the night will be “Family Ties,” so expect lots of anecdotes about Kirk Cameron (har har!). Nothing provokes hilariously awkward family moments like the holidays, and they’re so much less likely to make you cringe when they’re in the rear-view mirror, so whether you have a story you’d like to tell or you just want to listen voyeuristically, this is gonna be a fun night.
What’s that? You didn’t get enough awesome local music yet this weekend? Hey, it’s a short week; nobody expects you to be bright-eyed and bushy-tailed on Monday anyway, so head over to Tonic Tavern Sunday evening for a very special evening of holiday cheer–and the proceeds will fund WMSE’s Kickstarter Program! The list of performers includes members of Testa Rosa, Conrad Plymouth, Juniper Tar, Wildbirds and many more. The fun starts at 8 p.m. You can see the full lineup and all the info you’ll need right here.
Hip hop fans are in for a treat on Tuesday night for WMSE’s Local/Live segment. Logic & Raze, who just released their debut album, …STILL Untitled, last month, will be performing on the air at 8 p.m. The duo have been making some waves around town, getting some local airplay and drumming up a sizeable buzz with their club-ready party anthems. This’ll be a fun half hour of music.
Punk rock fans have something to celebrate with the reunion of emo pioneers Braid, who will play Turner Hall Ballroom on Thursday, December 22nd. After a good fifteen years or so of inactivity, the band played some shows in ’04, went into hibernation again, and is now back in action. Also playing: veteran pop-punkers The Smoking Popes, who’ve been gigging around the Midwest and beyond since the early 90’s. This is the rare example of a band that broke up over a religious conversion but came back a few years later and continued to come up with great new material. Tune into Melissa’s show at 2 p.m. on Wednesday to hear an interview with Damon Atkinson, Braid’s drummer since 1997.