words by Cal Roach
Wow, another year of Summerfest is done. Hopefully y’all got to visit the Big Gig at some point and take in some fine music and pizza cones or lasagna sticks, or just avoided the crowds and listened to the WMSE crew get weird with live broadcasts from the grounds. Rest assured, there’s still at least one festival going on every weekend for the foreseeable future, and we’ll be mentioning at least one in this week’s rundown of stuff to do about town. Is the suspense killing you??? Read on.
In case you didn’t notice, Bastille Days started yesterday. That means don’t expect to navigate through downtown anywhere near Cathedral Square in a vehicle very easily. And also, fun times galore! There’s an appropriate focus on food and drink for this particular festival, and tonight is Mardi Gras Friday, which means happy hour specials, and, um, beads! But there’s also music to feast your ears on; multiple sets from local folkish-rockers Herman Astro today as well as a late performance by the ever-popular Squeezettes, two sets on Saturday by Sierra Leone’s Refugee All-Stars as well as one by our own Paul Cebar and his Tomorrow Sound, and don’t miss the Sam Llanas Band and The Whiskeybelles on Sunday. Of course, there’s way more stuff to do, see and hear; here’s the full lowdown.
You’ve probably been hearing quite a bit about local sister-pop duo Vic And Gab lately, and with good reason; we stink at predictions, but we can certainly say all the necessary elements are in place for their new Love Of Mine album to be the next breakout hit from our town. The alluring vocals, the simple but effective production, the high earworm factor in the songwriting, all point to a summer full of V+G. The album release party is tonight (Friday) at Cactus Club, and they’ll be joined by Fable & The World Flat, who also just put out a new album, The Great Attractor, that’s full of choice summery jams. One way or another, you will leave this show with a great pop song stuck in your head. Also playing: Mutts.
Speaking of breakout hits: You’re familiar with Field Report by now, right? All civic bias aside, that band’s self-titled debut was one of 2012’s best albums, but lucky for us locals, we get a rare chance to see anagrammatic frontman Chris Porterfield play solo tonight at Linneman’s. It’s his songs that have garnered the accolades, and we’re willing to bet you’ll hear not only the ones you know and love but maybe a taste of what’s to come for the next record, which of course we’re already anxious for. If that’s not enough to get you outta the house on a Friday night, we give up! Also playing: Kalispell.
Your third killer option for tonight is going down at the Miramar, where one of the Midwest’s most buzzed-about improvisational/prog rock bands, Ultraviolet Hippopotamus, will put on the dance party of the weekend. Forget about endless, aimless jams; think more along the lines of Zappa or King Crimson, purposeful and intense improv stemming from eclectic, complex tunes, except with UV Hippo the focus is less on the singular lead guitarist and more on the keyboardist. Umphrey’s McGee comparisons are probably inevitable, but UV Hippo probably wouldn’t mind, either. Also playing: local electronic/jamband stalwarts Undercover Organism.
Shank Hall will be hosting an event Saturday night to celebrate the unveiling of a project near and dear to our hearts as champions of the Milwaukee music scene: the book release party for The Cease Is Increase: An Oral History Of Milwaukee’s Punk And Alternative Rock Scene. We think the title pretty much speaks for itself; if you’re at all interested in Milwaukee music, past or present, you’ll need to get your hands on a copy of Steve Nodine‘s book. The party will feature live music too, of course! Love And Law, The Newly Damaged (featuring Nodine himself) and Bicentennial Rub will rock your faces off; there’ll be plenty of time for reading on Sunday.
Also filed under Things You’re Probably Already Aware Of: Sir Paul McCartney is playing at Miller Park on Tuesday. Normally we wouldn’t make a point of bringing up something that’s already been pretty well hyped, but we make an exception when it comes to this old Beatle because, well, there are few artists operating today or ever on a level with this guy. You’re maybe thinking, “How good of a show could he possibly put on at age 71?” All we can say is in the summer of 2011 he played an incredible, three-hour-plus show without so much as pausing for a drink of water. This is no mere mortal; McCartney is some kind of superhero, but he probably won’t be playing concerts forever, so if you really want to pass up your last chance to see a Beatle singing Beatles songs, and shockingly well for his age, you at least can’t say we didn’t warn ya.
However, if you’re going to be stubborn about this whole Beatle thing, we’re okay with it, as long as you instead make your way to Humboldt Park Tuesday evening to see Painted Caves at Chill On The Hill. One of Milwaukee’s most unique bands, Painted Caves play a beautiful blend of traditional Middle-eastern and modern folk styles, and the resulting music ranges from mellow and hypnotic to upbeat and highly danceable. Their 2013 self-titled debut is certainly one of Milwaukee’s most essential releases, like, ever; it’s the type of stuff that can appeal to anyone at any age, so definitely check it out if you haven’t yet. We can’t think of a more perfect sound for this weekly party.