words by Cal Roach
Well Milwaukee, it’s been a weird summer, full of weirdly pleasant, not-sweltering weather, but it is indeed drawing to a close, so you might as well take your last chance to hang out at the Summerfest grounds: it’s Indian Summer Festival, a celebration of Native American culture, happening today (Friday) through Sunday. The theme this year centers around the Great Lakes, and the festival will be welcoming back award-winning new age/worldbeat group Brulé for performances on Friday and Saturday nights, and of course, many other acts and attractions. Click here for the full schedule, and keep reading for more fun stuff to do over the coming several days.
Tonight is the night you’ve been waiting for, folks. It’s arguably the most highly anticipated local music event of the year. The Fatty Acids are finally ready to unleash their new album, Boléro, upon the world! (It’s already streaming here if you’re the impatient type.) So come out to the Pabst Theater for the release party why don’t ya? These guys are like a sonic celebration on a normal day; imagine how giddy they’ll sound at a party in their own honor! And that’s not all; they’re bringing along two of their BFF party bands, Faux Fir (who’ll be releasing a brand new cassette at this show as well) and Sat. Nite Duets, both of whom are tough acts to follow. We highly recommend you come out and watch these three bands try to outdo each other on a proper stage to start your weekend.
Or, maybe by this evening you’ll find yourself in more of a dark, shoegazey/post-punk mood–hey, it happens! Sometimes upbeat poppy music won’t cure what ails ya. So head over to Cactus Club, where Disappears will bring their noisy but still danceable musical barrage to town. Their new Era album is a collection of haunting, bitter songs that gets better with each listen; it’s sort of like if Liars had lost all sense of playfulness and maybe laid off just a touch on the overbearing percussion. Whatever you call it, it sounds like it would make for an irresistibly hypnotic live show. Also playing: Weekend (that’s the Brooklyn post-punk band, NOT the Canadian pop artist known as The Weeknd!), Circles
There’s also musical event going on this weekend called the Yellow Phone Music Conference. We’re not sure it can really be called a festival, and we’re not making any claims about the actual point of the conference itself (you can click on the link above and make up your own mind), but we’d be remiss if we didn’t tell you that there are some great local artists performing around town at venues we don’t usually get to recommend as a part of this event. Friday night at the Milwaukee Ale House is your next chance to see Vic And Gab, our town’s latest pop act to make waves in the national media (and with good reason). Saturday, you won’t want to miss a rare appearance by The Championship, the band that keeps putting out excellent records (last year’s High Feather, for example) but not playing many shows to support them. The Irish Pub is the place to be for this one. Also Saturday, head to Spin Milwaukee (yes, the ping-pong place) for a performance by local pop duo Kiings, who keep releasing cool tracks and are sure to blow our minds with a full album one of these days soon.
There’s yet another festival this weekend, you guys. This one’s just a one-dayer, though, going on Saturday in sunny (we hope!) Riverwest: Center Street Daze! We’ll give you one guess as to where it’s taking place. There will be music stages by The Uptowner (featuring Undercover Organism, Thriftones and others), Impala Lounge (featuring Fahri, Uptown Savages, Scrimshaw and more) and, supposedly, Timbuktu and Quarters, although no lineup has been announced for those ones. There’s fun for the whole family at this laid-back affair, though; start with the Human Powered Art Cart Race at 11 a.m., enter the Uptowner’s 8-ball pool tournament or the dodgeball competition, ogle at a bunch of classic cars, and of course there will be tons of great food and drink options all along the five-block length of the street. This one’s always a good time.
Right under our noses, Milwaukee’s Slow Walker released a new album, Fruit$ Of Labor, on Bandcamp a few days ago. It’s another onslaught of balls-to-the-wall rock and roll, ragged and garagey and definitely on the punk side but more on the old-old-school MC5/Stooges tip. It’s not exactly unique but in a year dominated by hip hop and synthpop and other forms of electronic music that don’t feature much guitar, this record (along with, come to think of it, quite a few local records) sounds pretty fresh compared to the blurry cross-genre-ization of the national and international music situations. The band will undoubtedly be playing lots of material from the new album Saturday night at Cactus Club, and they’ll be joined by the crazy psych/noise combo Sonic J, ex-Milwaukeeans who relocated to Minneapolis last year, and they’ll be bringing along Ex Nuns, with local rockers Ramma Lamma filling out the bill.
Sunday night brings one of the few tribute bands you’ll ever read about on this blog to town: Zappa Plays Zappa. A part of the reason we like to tout this project is that it often attracts members of Frank Zappa‘s actual touring bands to play his music on the tour, which lends it an authenticity beyond the usual kids-mimicking-their-heroes stuff. This may not be the case with this current tour, but there’s no denying the incredible talent of Frank’s son, Dweezil, in keeping his dad’s music alive via electric guitar. The current tour features a full performance of Frank’s classic live album with The Mothers, Roxy & Elsewhere, and judging by the praise lavished upon the current touring lineup, you’ll be blown away by how well this band pulls off complex arrangements like “Echidna’s Arf” and the epic “Be-Bop Tango.” For Zappa fans who missed out on seeing the master live, this is really the closest you can get.