words by Cal Roach
Hey Milwaukee, we know you probably feel like hiding in some air-conditioned room and closing the blinds, but come on; this heat wave is really not a big deal. Aren’t we getting a little desperate for drama if it breaks 90 degrees for like the second time all year and we’re freaking out? Call us when it breaks 100 and then we’ll start talking about heat waves, because like it or not, this is normal. Summerfest turned out to be the least oppressive version yet, weather-wise, so don’t be a party-pooper now; there’s lots to do in the coming week and we’re going to tell you about it.
Yep, it’s summer, and it’s a weekend, which in Milwaukee automatically means festival on the lakefront. The current inhabitant of the Summerfest grounds is Festa Italiana, one of the more beloved ethnic celebrations of the year. The obvious reason: the food! Who doesn’t like lasagna and connolis, after all? And of course, if you were bummed out by that invisible fireworks display that happened at Summerfest, there might be less fog this weekend; Festa is renowned for its yearly spectacle in the night sky. As far as the music goes, hopefully you like accordions! But there’s also a prime opportunity for wine-drunk singalongs if you’re a Billy Joel fan (and deep down, who isn’t?), because there’s a local Billy Joel tribute band called 52nd Street that will be (streetlife) serenading you as you spill tomato sauce all over your new white shirt, if you so choose. (Go here for all the details.)
Tonight (Friday) in the musty confines of Stonefly Brewing Company, it’s your chance to celebrate what we can already confidently proclaim as one of the best local releases of 2013. Okay, maybe All Tiny Creatures is technically a Madison band, but it certainly has Milwaukee ties, and besides, let’s not get caught up in some kind of civic rivalry, right? Dark Clock is a fantastic album, and we’re all one big happy Wisconsin family, right? This release party happens to be part of the long-running MELT series, and while it’s tough to categorize ATC as “electronic” music, it’s certainly plugged-in and very synthesizer-centric, so it certainly fits the bill for The Demix‘s experimental music idea. ATC has always been a solid live band too, so our excitement for what these new tracks might develop into live is palpable. Also playing: Touch People and Light Music.
Also in Riverwest, a show you could probably even catch before the ATC party: Old Earth will bring his unique brand of haunting electric folk to the cozy setting of Circle A. You may have caught Todd Umhoefer being interviewed on WMSE Tuesday regarding his Kickstarter campaign; as far as we’re concerned, anything that facilitates more Old Earth music is a worthy cause, so you can check out the details on that here, or ask him about it in person tonight. If you have somehow failed to check out his music already (how is that possible??), you must not be paying attention; a good place to start would be last year’s amazing A Low Place At The Old Place album, and from there, just keep digging, because pretty much all of his songs are that good. He’ll be joined by our own Chris Demay, celebrated singer/songwriter in his own right, for what is sure to be an incredible evening of music. 8 p.m. sharp!
We can’t quite figure out why the whole city of Milwaukee isn’t bonkers for Elusive Parallelograms by now. They keep cranking out quality tunes at a relentless pace, and it seems like they get better live with each show. If you don’t believe us, go to Bandcamp and listen to…well, pretty much anything on there! They’ve put out three excellent EPs over the past two years or so; start with the most recent, Fragments, and we’re guessing you’ll end up getting sucked in and start listening to the whole catalog. But anyway, they’ll be playing Saturday night at Frank’s Power Plant for a quasi-Milwaukee Psych Fest sequel, as they’ll be joined by the hosts of said festival, the ambient/psychedelic experimentalists of Moss Folk. But that’s not all! Act now and we’ll throw in sets by Perhaps and Dirty Dancing at no additional charge!
Saturday features yet another festival, but this one’s only for the one day: it’s the Milwaukee Firkin Craft Beer Festival! No, that f-word isn’t some kind of polite cuss word (although folks will surely get plenty of pun mileage out of the similarity there); it’s actually a unit of volume measurement–a fourth of a barrel–that nobody but beer-makers ever uses any more, and also refers to the small wooden casks themselves that you’ll see pumping out over 100 different craft beers in Cathedral Square Park throughout the day. It’s a beer-lover’s paradise, and it’ll even be augmented by live music courtesy of the Extra Crispy Brass Band. We all know about Miller and Pabst and even Sprecher and Lakefront, but this is your chance to broaden your horizons even further and get a taste of some lesser-known beers. Hey, this is the Brew City, after all. Find out all the details here.
Sub Pop has gone through its share of ups and downs since its inception in 1986 as a scrappy Seattle independent record label, but it’s certainly on the upswing these days. Still, it will probably always be best-known as the label that brought grunge to the world, and what’s wrong with that, right? Although not every Seattle alt-rock band was signed to the label; the Melvins came up right along with the Sub Pop scene and probably influenced every band on that label but remained hiply aloof to the whole grunge explosion, managing to outlast damn near every one of their peers. And believe it or not, they’re still making great music to this day, which is why you should definitely go see them on Sunday at Turner Hall Ballroom as part of their 30th anniversary tour extravaganza, because no matter if they play old stuff or new stuff or (most likely) a broad mixture of both, it will be an amazing show. They’re bringing along the one remaining straggler from the Sub Pop crew, Mudhoney, the other main ingredient to the famous Nirvana casserole that revolutionized rock radio in the early 90s. You have to see these two legendary bands at some point in your life if you want to call yourself a fan of rock and roll.
Apparently, there’s been this thing going on all summer called River Rhythms that we just found out about. We’re going to call it a fill-in for the lost glory days of RiverSplash, because it happens down at Pere Marquette Park under that little gazebo thing where we saw Buckethead play that one time. It’s a free concert and you can even bring your own alcoholic beverages, so that’s probably reason enough to head down there on a balmy Wednesday night, but this coming week is particularly exciting because The Fatty Acids are playing, and they are, as we’ve stated numerous times, one of Milwaukee’s must-see live acts. In case you live under a social-media rock, we should inform you that this week brought the announcement of a new single, new album and a record release party at the Pabst Theater in September, all of which you should be rabidly paying attention to. But if you want a sneak preview of new material (we’re guessing; don’t quote us on that!), or just a chance to see this band before it becomes The Next Big Thing (also mere conjecture, but why not?), you should go chill by the river next Wednesday.