words by Cal Roach
Hey kids, it’s Wisconsin State Fair time! The event might not get a ton of love in the local press, but of course there’s always some good stuff there, even besides the deep-fried curios. Sure, it’s mostly oldies like Herman’s Hermits and ex-members of The Monkees, but you might as well scratch these old geezers off your bucket list if you’ve got nothing better to do on a Wednesday night! However, there’s a TON of other great stuff to do in Milwaukee this weekend and in the ensuing week, so here we go…
More romance on the high seas…er, lake, this weekend (Friday, i.e. tonight), as Milwaukee Boat Line takes you on another trip out of this world…er, city. We don’t have any idea how twelve musicians are going to set up on the Vista King, but at least the noise of the neighborhood will fade away as the boat drifts out into Lake Michigan, and if people are talking they won’t easily be able to hide from your evil-eye. Oh, did we mention it’s the Altos who are playing this cruise? Or did you guess that already?
If you’re more of a landlubber, Linneman’s might be more up your alley. The ol’ Riverwest Inn will host Call Me Lightning for a night of blistering rock and roll–perhaps not for you, but we guarantee blisters on the hands of the musicians, ‘cause few bands pummel the crap out of their instruments like these guys (not to mention the amazing songs they write). The show will also feature local pop-punk revivalists The Sugar Stems, whose awesome debut album (The Sweet Sounds Of…) sounds even better live (and click their name to check out a couple of singles they’ve released this year). Also playing: River City Tanlines and Whatever Brains. Tune in at 2 p.m. CST today as Andy interviews Alicja Trout from the RCT’s about their tour and stop in Milwaukee.
Friday night also marks the beginning of NoCoast MohawkFest, three days of balls-to-the-wall punk rock happening at Quarters Rock And Roll Palace this weekend. Doors open at 7 p.m. tonight and seven bands will march on and off the stage, headlined by Milwaukee’s own Get Rad ‘round about 1 a.m. Rage hard, but sleep in on Saturday; the action starts at 3:25 with Fibs at Marian Center and features Buzz’s Garage staples Krum Bums and legends of the Wisconsin scene Brass Tacks headlining. On Sunday, the event moves to the Miramar Theater and goes from 3:50 until midnight-ish, when barnstorming MKE hardcore heroes Burning Sons will wrap things up. We dare you to test your mettle by hitting all three days!
Okay, we understand that awesome music isn’t everybody’s thing; or sometimes you just don’t feel like it, and you’d rather get a good laugh instead. Fear not! The Milwaukee Comedy Festival has got you covered. The event starts tonight and runs through August 11 at the new Next Act Theatre building, and it claims to be “Wisconsin’s largest comedy event” so basically you’re bound to find something to enjoy here. There’s improv, there’s standup, there’s sketch comedy, plus workshops and even food! Perhaps…pie tins filled with whipped cream, for instance? The website for the event has pictures of people on stages making funny faces and laughing, so really, that’s all the evidence you need, right? (Check here for a full schedule.)
Finally, the moment Milwaukee’s spazz-pop contingency has been waiting for: Sat. Nite Duets, The Fatty Acids, Faux Fir and Icarus Himself all together on one bill! That’s right, some of the city’s leading lights in terms of catchy, eclectic, kinetic pop music combine for a can’t-miss bill. Even if nobody else is looking, this is a seriously exciting time for Milwaukee music lovers, especially in terms of quirky indie rock that will get you dancing. If that’s your thing, then you have no choice but to be at Linneman’s on Saturday night. Even if you don’t really know if it’s your thing or not, there’ll be no better opportunity to find out.
Sunday night is your chance to see two of the most buzzed-about artists in the indie/rock/Americana world at the Pabst Theater, as The Tallest Man On Earth and Strand Of Oaks come to town. Kristian Matsson stands about…well, we’re not sure exactly how tall he is, but let’s just say his stage name is a bit of hyperbole. But he is certainly getting plenty of accolades for the album he just released in June, There’s No Leaving Now, so we highly recommend going to see what the fuss is about. Ditto for Strand Of Oaks; the critics raved about 2010’s Pope Killdragon and they’re raving again about the brand new Dark Shores. This seems like one of those shows that you’re going to be hearing about from your hipster friends if you don’t go, so avoid that headache and just go.
Speaking of shows you regretted missing, that reminds us of the last time Russian Circles came to town and sold out Cactus Club and blew everybody’s minds with their instrumental metal/post rock hybrid. The Chicago band was in a bit of a lull until last year’s awesome Empros album, with which they recaptured the glory of their first record while adding a hefty dose of modern super-heavy riffage. You can listen to it loud, but that still won’t quite compare to the onslaught of this band’s live show (note: we keep telling you, BRING EARPLUGS). The band returns to Cactus on Monday night, along with Chelsea Wolfe and Marriages.