words by Cal Roach
It’s exactly five months since St. Patrick’s Day, and you know what that means: Irish Fest! The most popular of Milwaukee’s ethnic festivals started yesterday, and now you’ve got all weekend to get down to the lakefront and eat potatoes and listen to tin whistles and fiddles and bodhráns and uilleann pipes…you get the picture. Plus, this year the festival’s spotlight is on bluegrass, which, as everyone knows, owes a large debt of inspiration to Irish folk music. Even if you don’t dig the traditional Celtic jigs ‘n’ reels, you’d be well advised to check out The Punch Brothers tonight (Friday) or Del McCoury on Saturday for some virtuosic bluegrass action. AND, read on for a bunch of other great suggestions for what to do with your weekend and ensuing week!
In the total opposite direction of bluegrass, you could venture down to The Rave for a night of rip-snorting death metal. Somehow, Cannibal Corpse is still making great albums long past the career mark where most metal bands have resorted to self-cannibalization (whoops); 24 years is a long time to stick to one fairly traditional sound, but the new Torture album ranks among the best metal releases of the year so far. As you might expect, there are at least eight other bands on this bill, so if you really want to get your money’s worth, you’ll get down there and start paying way too much for beer at 2 p.m. You can’t go wrong with technical prog merchants Between The Buried And Me or perennial blackened-death outfit Goatwhore for frantic headbanging fun.
Also playing tonight, at Turner Hall Ballroom: The Brian Jonestown Massacre. Some folks might remember this band playing this very venue back in 2009, and attendees being shocked (whether pleased or not) by the performance, which was–you might want to sit down for this–three whole hours long. Unheard of, right? Well, no guarantees that tonight’s set will be such a marathon, but the retro/psych/folk rockers are notoriously volatile onstage, and besides, a lot of their music is really doggone cool, like Velvet Underground with middle-eastern flourishes lots of other weirdness. Plus, Oskar Blues (makers of the ever-popular Dale’s Pale Ale) will be providing a special beer tasting before the show, to, y’know, get you in the mood.
Up for some punk rock on a Saturday morning? Who isn’t?!? Nothing goes better with shopping for locally-grown vegetables–as if you needed another reason to head over to the East Side Green Market. The Beans & Barley parking lot will be rocking to the not-necessarily-soothing sounds of Uh-Oh starting around 10 a.m. We’re talking no frills, no gimmicks, timeless scuzzy rock and roll; all you need are song titles like “I Can Function” and “Underneath The Stupid Sun” and you probably get the picture. Peruse all kinds of Milwaukee-made wares, grab a breakfast burrito and start a mosh pit (note: WMSE does not actually encourage starting mosh pit in this instance)!
Remember when Milwaukee was known as a mecca for metal, before the once-glorious Metalfest was driven unceremoniously into the ground? It sort of feels like old times this weekend, as another of the best in the business, Gojira, comes to The Rave on Sunday. The band’s new album, L’Enfant Sauvage, is a near-perfect blast of progressive death metal, rife with brutality and technical brilliance and memorable melodies all at once. With the lines between the various metal sub-genres blurring more and more as time goes on, it’s getting easier for curious fledgling headbangers to find inroads, and you could scarcely come up with a better introduction to extreme music than this virtuosic French band. Also playing: Car Bomb, Everything Must Die
There’s another loud and furious show going on Sunday night at Frank’s Power Plant: local noisepop freaks IfIHadAHifi will get your blood pumping and your neurons firing–you have our word on that. What better way to prepare for another humdrum work week? They’ll be joined by Chicago’s equally noisy psychedelic punks RUNNING, no drugs required! Keeping it trippy as well: Moss Folk, quickly gaining a reputation as one of the city’s must-see live bands, as well as Technicolor Teeth, whose Teenage Pagans is one of the best local releases of 2012 so far. This is a powerhouse lineup, folks; we know you have to get up early on Monday, but seriously.
Sadly, Chill On The Hill season is almost over, but not quite! A lot of the artists who play this picturesque little event are decidedly mellow (hence the “Chill” portion of the name?), but you’ve got an opportunity to get a little amped up this Tuesday as The Barrettes make an appearance on their home turf. This ain’t your ordinary punk band; as evidenced by their 2009 album Whole Lotta Melodica, they’ve got some very weird, prog-ish tendencies, even if you discount the fact that (duh) the melodica is one of the most prominent instruments in the band. Trust us, these gals constitute a very entertaining live act. Also playing: Venus In Furs.
It may seem like festival season is pretty much over with, but fear not: one of the city’s best is just starting next Thursday. It’s Milwaukee Noise Fest, happening at The Borg Ward, and like we always say, bring your earplugs!! Anything goes where this event is concerned, which is appropriate for a guy like Jon Mueller, one of Milwaukee’s most innovative and unpredictable musicians. What he’ll bring to the table for this show is anybody’s guess, but it’ll probably be loud. Another Collections Of Colonies Of Bees alumnus, Jim Schoenecker, will be performing Thursday as well, along with no less than eight other experimental artists. This type of gathering happens only once a year, so if you like to experience the cutting edge of what music can be, you’ll be there. For a full listing of performers, go here; the event runs through Sunday. Tune into WMSE at 7 p.m. this Sunday, August 19th for an interview with event organizer, Peter J Woods.