words by Cal Roach
Forgive us if we’re a bit morose over at WMSE; a couple of our favorite DJs, Dori Zori and Era, hosted their final shows on 91.7 this week. While we support these ladies in whatever they do from here on, Monday and Thursday afternoons are never going to be the same. In a very short time, Era put a distinctive stamp on the Blues Drive, defining it in her own way and endearing herself to listeners across all genres in the process. And Dori…well, anyone who’s listened to the station over the past twenty-plus years has had his or her day brightened by that voice. Sad times, but don’t forget: the archives are there to preserve all those years of shows for anyone who wants to relive them. Now, on to business: a rundown of some of the great shows coming up in Milwaukee…
Good luck choosing what to do tonight (Friday). So many good shows; we’re sure we’ll miss something. For starters, you can’t go wrong with the Altos, who will be playing Cactus Club. Anyone who’s been paying attention to the local media will have heard the excited chatter around this band at some point. Few groups, local, or otherwise, strike such a perfect balance between delicate and loud, beautiful and scary, rock and…um. We’ll stop right there. No sense in trying to pin a genre on the twelve member collective. Just be sure to see ’em, live. They’ll be joined by Brooklyn duo Exitmusic, whose debut album Passage just came out on Secretly Canadian Records. You can expect echoey digital beats and haunting vocals and an unpredictably big sound from the husband and wife team.
This weekend is also the Riverwest 24 bike ride, and the neighborhood has plenty of great gigs to go along with it. Tonight you can stop by the Riverwest Public House for a performance by Crappy Dracula. These comedic punks seem to play this venue quite a bit; is it a coincidence that the short-lived House Of Frank-N-Stein is only a block away? We think not. Don’t expect fangs or capes or fake blood, but then again, don’t expect to not see any of those things, either. To add to the mystery, the venue’s website has this to say about the show: “Crappy Dracula opening for Sugges-Tron RW24 Mystery entertainment 10pm; Crappy Dracula closes it out 9pm.” We’re not sure what sense that makes, but it’s sure to be a fun time.
In case you’re starting to panic about the end of festival season, it turns out there’s one going on this weekend at the Art Bar. That’s right, it’s the second annual MishMash Music Fest, and tonight’s lineup is sure to be, as touted by its Facebook page (um, from last year), “super fun.” A couple of leading lights in Milwaukee’s burgeoning spazz-pop scene, The Fatty Acids and Animals In Human Attire, are both pretty much guaranteed to delight your ears and booty. Plus, AIHA’s Myles Coyne will be doing double duty, opening the show at three with his Rusty Nickel Band, followed by Fossils and Uncle Larry. It’s a good eight hours of free music, folks, as well as a great place to hang out and cheer on the cyclists.
One more show to mention in Bay View: Club Garibaldi will be hosting Scott Lucas & The Married Men. This is the solo project of one half of Chicago’s Local H squeezing in a tour before his slightly more famous band releases its new album in September. He just released his second album with the Married Men, Blood Half Moon, which is also their second album with “Moon” in the title. A far cry from grunge, you can expect this band to stretch out with moody jams heavy on the violin, but there are some terrific songs on the new album to jump off from. Find out more when Sonia interviews Lucas on WMSE’s Blues Drive today at 5:30 p.m. Also playing: Milwaukee’s Great Lake Drifters, who are hard at work on their debut album, but you can check out a preview of their twangy rock on their Bandcamp page.
Saturday night the MishMash Fest continues, this time headlined by the classic punk stylings of Slow Walker (check out their debut album, last year’s Good For Business) and…wait, we’re mentioning Crappy Dracula again?? We promise they’re not paying us to do this; we just like them and it’s no good glossing over any of these essential Riverwest events anyway. The show starts at 7:30 with All These Runners (sort of the oddball of the bill; more of a yearning pop sound) and then the indie rock stuff begins in earnest with Coo Woo, whose debut album, Love Exposure, is up for free download on Bandcamp.
For a semi-official afterparty in honor of the Riverwest 24, make your way to the Riverwest Public House, where The Celebrated Workingman will play its first Riverwest show in ages. The band put out a terrific album, Content Content, last year, but like most great bands, the live show is a whole ‘nother ballgame. Singer Mark Waldoch is one of the most captivating performers this city has ever produced, and chances are you’ll be able to hear his booming voice from blocks away. The bill also includes Chicago folk-rockers Shiloh, Corpus Callosum (more folk, less rock, out of San Francisco) and D.C. experimental pop outfit The Caribbean.
If you need to get out of Riverwest, or off dry land altogether, you’ve got that option Saturday night as well, as the Milwaukee Boat Line launches with yet another concert cruise. Seriously, this is one of the best times you can have in the summer in the Brew City, chilling out in Lake Michigan with a cold beverage while the band tries not to vomit or let any equipment fall overboard when a big wave rocks the boat. This weekend it’s Hugh Bob And The Hustle, who are putting the finishing touches on their debut album as we speak. If you hadn’t guessed from the band name, these guys are another promising addition to the city’s folk-rock scene that is pretty much bursting these days. If you’re lucky, maybe you’ll get a sea shanty of some sort as well.
Looking ahead to next Thursday, lots of folks are excited for Sharon Van Etten’s return to Milwaukee; she put on a memorable show at the Pabst Theater last year, and she’ll play Turner Hall Ballroom equipped with tunes from her excellent new album, Tramp, a lush, moving collection of folky pop songs. Co-headlining this show is Tennis, another husband/wife duo (but also featuring a third member on drums). The Denver indie-pop band has garnered plenty of accolades for its new album, Young & Old, as well as a reputation for great live shows. Also playing: Yellow Ostrich, based in New York these days but transplanted from Wisconsin, weirdo pop featuring intricate vocal harmonies that should be impressive if they can be pulled off live.