words by Cal Roach
Hey Milwaukee, the weekend may not be the most stacked one of the summer, but luckily for you, you can spread your shows out over the whole week–except, as if there were a festival, you’ve got some tough choices to make between guaranteed awesome shows, particularly on Sunday and Thursday. We wish we could make these decisions for you…wait, no we don’t! The best we can do is make you aware of your choices, so hopefully that’s good enough! Read on, and choose wisely…
Aw crap, there’s no ethnic festival going on down by the lakefront this weekend?? The Henry Meier Festival Grounds people must be getting extra-extra prepared for Irish Fest next weekend! But never fear–there IS still a festival going on nearby, and it’s the Waukesha BluesFest, going on tonight (Friday) and tomorrow at Naga-Waukee Park. This year will feature the soulful stylings of the James Hunter Six (tonight’s headliner), the gritty blues rock of Moreland & Arbuckle (Saturday) and a nice array of local blues-based artists as well. It looks to be a gorgeous weekend so get outside and enjoy some live music!
One of the most underrated bands of the past decade or so has to be Louisville’s Young Widows. The kings of dynamic post-hardcore have put on a killer show every time they’ve visited Milwaukee, and now they’ve spawned a side project called Old Baby (get it?) who will be playing Cactus Club on Saturday night. You can check out the band’s brand new album, Love Hangover, at Bandcamp; expect lots of meaty guitar riffs but a slightly less abrasive, more meditative sound than frontman Evan Patterson‘s main band. Also, plan on getting to Cactus early if you want to catch the elusive Fahri, Milwaukee’s enigmatic indie-rock recluse band. What’s that? You haven’t heard the band’s amazing 2012 release Final Disconnect Notice?? Well then, click that link asap, n00b! Also playing: Catherine Irwin, Dirty Dancing.
On the mathy-hardcore front, one of the most exciting emerging bands in town is YLLA. The group played a standout set at Breadfest at the end of June, and its debut EP, Backseas, is a relentless slab of fast, heavy and catchy, sort of like if Fugazi added some slightly metallic riffage, more all-out noise jams, and sang less often and less caustically–does any of this make sense? If that sounds like it’d be up your alley, get down to the Riverwest Public House Saturday night, and like we always tell you: Don’t forget your earplugs! We’re talking seriously loud music here. Also playing: Gauss, Trades (We’ll leave it up to you to Google them if you like; we struck out.)
Sunday night is your next chance to see Milwaukee’s great psych-rock hope, and in the guaranteed choice-sounding confines of Linneman’s to boot. Yep, it’s Catacombz, and everything you’ve heard about them being one of the most intense live bands in the city is true. Part of the appeal is their eclecticism; they’ll grab your attention whether you’re into kraut rock or jam bands or indie or just like to dance, and you never know what sort of sonic contours the live show will take on. Unpredictability is the hallmark of most great live music experiences, and that’s a quality that Catacombz definitely embody; check out their Bandcamp page for a taste of their latest album, Mother Tongue 2, although it’s hardly representative of the full spectrum of styles this band plays. Also playing: Unmanned Ship, Toupee and (Orb) (note: no, not THE Orb!)
For an even less predictable Sunday night of music, head over to Sugar Maple, where drummer extraordinaire Jon Mueller will dazzle the senses with a full-on assault of pure improvisation. If you’ve caught any of his performances with the experimental Death Blues project (among his many other former and current bands), you know that his approach to rhythm is wildly unique and uncommonly powerful. This show will be a collaboration with avant-garde composer Duane Pitre, renowned for his multi-instrumental, cross-disciplinary prowess in essentially uncategorizable music. We’d be lying if we said we know what this will turn out like; we just know it will be crazy and worth checking out just to see what will happen.
Next Thursday, it’s another record release party, and one you will not want to miss. It’s only a 7″ but if that’s the way The Delphines want to keep plugging along, we’re fine with it; so far, everything the band has released has been totally bitchin.’ Not only that, but their moody, echo-drenched post-punk amounts to a stellar live show, as evidenced recently by their Locust Street Fest set, one of the highlights of the day. You also get a performance by Worrier, another phenomenal live act with a slightly more upbeat style but no less intense. This is what we call a can’t-miss local bill, folks; get down to Riverwest Public House at all costs. Also playing: Dogs In Ecstasy.
…oh crap, Milwaukee. Why do these great performers have to gang up on us like this? You can’t exactly zip back and forth between RWPH and Mad Planet like it’s a festival, but maybe if you ride your bike you could reasonably split your time up. Why? Because possibly the best rapper on the planet, Open Mike Eagle, will be at Mad Planet on Thursday, and you don’t want to miss him. He was just at the Borg Ward in June and it was awesome, but he deserves a bigger stage than that–er, make that A stage, period! For proof, check out his killer new EP, Sir Rockabye, on Bandcamp (particularly the second track, “Middling”), and you won’t want to arrive late for this show either because the local talent (Dana Coppa–apparently he dropped the “feel” from his name–and SPEAKEasy, plus Sean Smart and Moses) is top-notch, and the headliner is Homeboy Sandman, who’s been generating considerable buzz lately, touring with Brother Ali and whatnot. Also performing: Random (aka Mega Ran) and DJ Mammyth.