words by Cal Roach
Despite this oddly cool August, it’s obvious from this weekend’s weather forecast that summer is not quite over with. Besides, the Summerfest grounds are still jumping with activity–never give up! Winter’s still a long way off! This weekend it’s Mexican Fiesta, which promises to be near the top of the list in terms of food when considering all of the ethnic lakefront festivals. Plus, for the first time this year, there will be a tequila tasting (presented, naturally, by The National Chamber of the Tequila Industry, which we totally did not just make up)! Hey, it’s only fair; they have whisky at Irish Fest, after all! Check out the musical lineup, from dance to mariachi to rock and roll, here. Then, read on for more suggestions on what to do with yourself over the next week or so…
Tonight (Friday) is another installment of Milwaukee institution Fish Fry & A Flick, and you ought to be able to reach some sort of consensus with the folks you keep trying to drag down to Discovery World this week, as they’re showing Pulp Fiction; how could anyone not like Pulp Fiction, right? Maybe you’ve been sucked into Kill Bill on cable TV recently (we know, it’s tough to turn it off); here’s your chance to catch Uma Thurman with black hair instead of blonde, and Samuel L. Jackson in a much larger role. Few films have ever combined hilarity and extreme violence with quite as much style as this one; plus, you can eat a fish fry and drink beer outdoors while you watch it! This prospect just keeps getting better and better, doesn’t it?
If you’re more interested in music, as luck would have it, there is live music to be had in Milwaukee tonight as well. Head down to Turner Hall Ballroom for a performance by the increasingly high-profile Murder By Death. Despite being named after an old Peter Sellers whodunit spoof, these guys take themselves pretty seriously, serving up twangy indie rock with a generous helping of acoustic folky stuff. Their forthcoming new album, Bitter Drink, Bitter Moon, wound up being one of the most successful Kickstarter campaigns ever, so they have that going for them. Joining MBD will be Ha Ha Tonka, another Americana group, but this one named after a state park in Camdenton, MO, as well as local heroes Trapper Schoepp & The Shades, who are pretty much named after the lead singer.
Venture to the south side, where the Seattle-ite and Sub Pop-ite hip hop duo of Stasia Irons and Catherine Harris-White, THEESatisfaction, will be bringing their sheer energy and slickly innovative take on the genre to the Cactus Club, melding plenty of funk and psychedelia into their collaboration. How do they describe themselves? Name-dropping everything and everyone from Elaine Brown, feminista sci-fi epics, Ursula Rucker, Sunday morning soul, Q-Tip and Black Jazz, and coming in with accolades from NPR and Pitchfork, it’s a sure shot that these two will not only be fresh but bring the chops to back it up. Also performing: EdenAbbey and DJ Tarik the Architect.
Also tonight at the Riverwest Public House, a somewhat more noisy prospect with The Dim Suns, veteran rockers who cut their teeth in influential local bands Compound Red and Sometime Sweet Susan. They may not have much of an online presence, but they’ve been playing out quite a bit over the past year; catch ‘em while you can! They’ll be joined by Like Like The The The Death, who, despite the unwieldy name, put out one of the city’s best albums so far this year, Ghosts Of Dead Bros, a noisy one but riddled with hooks. Also playing: The Revenge Society.
Finally, as we drift from low-key to the most extreme stuff possible, you’d be hard pressed to come up with a more brutal bill of local artists (aside from the notable absence of Northless) than the one going down at Quarters tonight. Back from the grave, it’s Morta Skuld, the band that sorta put Milwaukee on the death metal map back in the 90s, playing its first show in…geez, a long damn time? On the hardcore end of the spectrum, you’ve got Protestant and Burning Sons, both playing old-school style with Protestant leaning decidedly more towards the metal side. For your retro-thrash fix, it’s Architects Of The Aftermath, always a good time, and then the lone out-of-town band, Minneapolis’s The Terrordactyls, worth checking out just for that awesome band name.
Speaking of extreme, don’t forget about Milwaukee Noise Fest at the Borg Ward. Although we did a more hefty feature on the three-day, annual fest last week, it must be said that it is only Day Two and plenty of performers left: Reptile Worship, Thomas Wincek, Lucky Bone and Mildew are just a handful of what’s yet to come.
Saturday would be a good night to make your way over to Brady Street; the Up & Under Pub is a snug little hangout, and on this night you can catch the sweet sounds of The Sugar Stems! In case you didn’t notice, we just did a clever little play on the title of their awesome full length from a couple years ago, and they’ve got a couple of new singles up on their Bandcamp page too, but seriously, the best way to experience this band is live, and this should be the perfect intimate setting for the raucous retro-pop-punk band. They’ll be joined by Pilot Airer, another retro-y rock and roll band with a name that’s fun to pronounce.
Cactus Club will host a night of exceedingly eclectic rock and roll Saturday night, as Milwaukee newcomers Calliope bring the kitchen sink to the stage. If you equate “prog” with complexity, or with the merging of lots of different styles into one band, you could call this band prog, but we prefer jazz/funk/rockabilly/synth pop, because now everybody’s happy. Perhaps not quite as scattered but equally tough to pin down, Sonic J bring a beastly, heavy aesthetic with plenty of weirdness so things don’t get too serious. Or serious at all. Also playing: The Dirty Feathers, who, if the song title “If Your Love Is A Drug (Then I’m Feeling Sick)” is any indication, should be awesome (it’s a pretty sweet song, too).