words by Cal Roach
It must be almost time for Summerfest, ‘cause here in Milwaukee we’re in that post-Memorial Day, pre-Summerfest lull when there aren’t any big touring acts coming to town and a lot of local bands are gearing up for The Big Gig as well. That’s no excuse not to get out and enjoy yourself, though! Read on for a few suggestions for the upcoming week.
You may have heard the term Present Music around town and wondered what exactly it refers to; is it a band? Is it a production? Is it a genre? We’re pretty sure the ambiguity is on purpose, but it sure is a catchy name, isn’t it? Present music is a “new music” ensemble, another confusing term that’s used to denote contemporary classical music, but before we offend someone on the basis of terminology we are going to stop right there. The group’s current project is called, simply, Love, because Present Music likes to use the broadest terms possible to name everything. Joking! Click that “Love” link for samples and a description of what to expect Friday night at Turner Hall Ballroom, and then get out there and experience it for yourself so you can take your turn at trying to explain it.
Does sci-fi keep you young, or does it prevent you from growing up? Is there a difference, really? However you look at it, it seems to have worked wonders for the cast of the original Star Trek TV series; William Shatner and Leonard Nimoy are both in their 80s and still perfecting their acting chops, and this weekend, 75-year-old George Takei brings the Sci-Fi Spectacular to Uihlein Hall (We’re hoping he’s still making time to keep his Facebook page up to date!). This event consists of the MSO Pops performing pieces of music from Trek as well as Star Wars, 2001: A Space Odyssey and other well-known classics from the genre, all narrated by Takei. The show runs Friday through Sunday, so you’ve got three chances to get your geek on.
If you still need definitive proof that summer is here in Milwaukee, look no further than the Beans & Barley parking lot Saturday from 10-2. That’s right; it’s the first day of the East Side Green Market, your chance to load up on locally-grown-and-made goodies every Saturday until the middle of October. Plus, there will be music! Yes, on the Dewan Dental Music Stage, bands will set up and play a brief set around noonish, and this week’s pick is local retro-rock spazz band Kane Place Record Club, sure to inspire you to buy a couple of tomatoes. No, no, not to throw! Click here and scroll down a bit for the full lineup of bands and a partial list of vendors for the summer.
Saturday night you can check out The Figgs, a spry garage-y rock band that for whatever reason has a sizable following in Wisconsin even though they’re from Saratoga Springs, NY. The energetic live band is perhaps best known for having worked with Graham Parker and also Tommy Stinson at various points during its 25 years in the biz, and those landmarks are good indicators of the group’s punchy, amiable sound. You can also catch a couple of local twangy-pop groups opening for the Figgs at Linneman’s: Sleepwalkers and Tim Schweiger And The Middlemen.
Also in Riverwest on Saturday, Quarters will host yet another loud, sweaty rock and roll show, headlined by the menacing (that’s tongue in cheek, but seriously, bring earplugs) Drugs Dragons, the closest thing Milwaukee’s got to trippy horror punk, and always a good time live. They’ll be joined by psychedelic New York noise-punks K-Holes and Chicago’s Outer Minds.
Another sign of summer: the return of Chill On The Hill! Okay, this one started a bit earlier than most things you associate with summer in Wisconsin (i.e., warm weather), but the thing is in full swing now. Every summer, the Bay View Neighborhood Association rounds up great local talent to play Tuesday nights in Humboldt Park. The headliners for this week are perfect in case you didn’t get your fill of polka at Polish Fest over the weekend: it’s The Squeezettes! The name pretty much fills you in on what to expect, right? (hint: ACCORDIONS) Opening up the evening will be Sophia’s Heart Chorus, so you can feel good about going down to support a good cause and polka your butt off.