This Week in Milwaukee
Irish Fest, Bill Cosby and The Hold Steady
THURSDAY, AUG. 18
Irish Fest @ Henry Maier Festival Park
Milwaukee's popular Irish Fest features 16 stages of music and entertainment, with a full lineup of Celtic musicians both traditional and anything but, including the bands Gaelic Storm, Frogwater, The Henry Girls, The Clumsy Lovers and The Red Hot Chilli Pipers. There will be daily dance performances and cultural demonstrations, and heaps of corned beef and other pub-food staples.
Other attractions include whiskey tastings, a marketplace with more than 90 vendors and a Celtic canine exhibit, where you can pet some of Ireland's most popular breeds of dogs and chat with their breeders. (Through Sunday, Aug. 21.)
Hal Rammel: Comix & Cartoons @ Woodland Pattern Book Center, 6 p.m.
As the longtime host of WMSE's Sunday night experimental-music program “Alternating Currents,” and also the curator of Woodland Pattern's “Alternating Currents Live” music series, Hal Rammel is best known for his music acumen. But he's also a veteran illustrator. Through Sept. 25, Woodland Pattern displays an exhibition of his comics, some published, many never before seen, and many featuring Rammel's recurrent protagonist Aero, a plucky wanderer who drifts between the worlds of fantasy and art. Tonight's opening reception for the exhibit features solo guitar music from Collections of Colonies of Bees' Chris Rosenau.
FRIDAY, AUG. 19
Young Jeezy w/ Freddie Gibbs @ The Rave, 8 p.m.
Rapping, as always, like he's too damn busy hustling to pop a throat lozenge, Atlanta rapper Young Jeezy scored one of his biggest and best singles to date with last summer's thundering “Lose My Mind,” though the long-delayed album that song is to be featured on, Thug Motivation 103, is still without a hard release date more than a year later. The querulous rapper has stayed on the radar in the meantime with a slew of strong mixtapes. Gary, Ind., opener Freddie Gibbs, long one of underground rap's most respected lyricists and often-cited nextbig-things, has signed to Jeezy's CTE label, though given Jeezy's history of being unable to get even his own album released, that news is slightly bittersweet.
The Dark Knight @ Discovery World, 5 p.m.
The Goth kids who once wore combat boots and black T-shirts with pictures of Brandon Lee as The Crow on them are still dressing more or less the same as they did 15 years ago, except now they wear T-shirts with Heath Ledger's Joker on them. It's another sign that, for all its precedent-setting commercial success, at its heart the blockbuster The Dark Knight is really just an epic cult film, one rich with wonky comic book references and macabre images designed for fanboys. The movie screens at dusk tonight outside as part of Discovery World's “Fish Fry & A Flick” series, following a Bartolotta fish fry that begins at 5 p.m. There will also be a host of food trucks and specials on Point beer.
SATURDAY, AUG. 20
Kenny Wayne Shepherd @ Pabst Theater, 7:30 p.m.
After wowing blues fans, who are always on the hunt for young talent, in the '90s, guitar virtuoso Kenny Wayne Shepherd struggled to find his voice, turning briefly to nondescript blues-rock before reinventing himself as a true bluesman, a defender of a dying art. For his 2007 album, 10 Days Out: Blues From the Backroads, Shepherd hunted down and recorded with aging, unheralded blues greats. Shepherd's latest album, the Jerry Harrison-produced How I Go, returns the guitarist to greasy blues-rock territory.
SUNDAY, AUG. 21
Bill Cosby @ Riverside Theater, 6:30 p.m.
Over the last decade Bill Cosby has received less attention for his creative ventures than for his blunt views on morality and personal responsibility in the black community, which can perhaps come across as harsher than the former sitcom star intends. His critiques of rap culture in particular can sound like an attack on a younger, less privileged class than his own, but at the core of his arguments are the same values he espoused on “The Cosby Show”— namely the belief that parents have a responsibility to raise their children the right way. If the 74-year-old Cosby can sometimes appear doddering in his more serious television appearances, he uses that same quality for comic effect in his standup act, which is as goodnatured as ever, sidestepping hot-button issues in favor of fatherly ruminations on kids and matrimony.
Nashville Pussy w/ Dwarves @ Miramar Theatre, 8 p.m.
The hard-rock/pyschobilly group Nashville Pussy is every bit as vulgar as their moniker suggests, but their moniker is misleading in at least one respect: The band is from Atlanta, not Nashville. Fittingly, the group splits this bill with an act that's even more famously transgressive: Dwarves, the Chicago punk band once known for their brutal, sexually charged live shows. After faking the death of their guitarist in the mid-'90s, the group was dropped by Sub Pop Records, but they emerged with a tighter, more controlled sound. They haven't been completely tamed, though. Their latest record, The Dwarves Are Born Again, thrashes hard, and guitarist HeWhoCannotBeNamed sometimes still performs naked at their live shows.
Queensryche w/ The Voodoos @ The Rave, 8 p.m.
Queensryche was never the most popular of the 1980s hair-metal bands, but they emerged from the heyday of heavy metal with a prestige many of their contemporaries lost (or never had in the first place), thanks to their political, prog-metal ambitions. In 2006, they issued a mostly well-received follow-up to their 1988 masterwork, Operation: Mindcrime, that, if nothing else, reminded metal fans how powerful the first Mindcrime album was. In 2009, they released a new concept album, American Soldier, which the band wrote after interviewing veterans, but the real curveball came this summer, when the band's dance-inspired Dedicated to Chaos confounded even many of the group's oldest fans.
TUESDAY, AUG. 23
Blink-182 w/ My Chemical Romance and Manchester Orchestra @ Marcus Amphitheater, 7 p.m.
Pop-punk mainstays Blink-182 so strongly influenced much of the Warped Tour punk and emo of the last decade that when the band broke up in 2005, it seemed only a matter of time until they reunited to return to the music scene they helped shape. The 2008 plane crash that nearly killed drummer Travis Barker laid the groundwork for the trio's reconciliation and a big 2009 reunion tour, and in September the band will release their first album since 2003, Neighborhoods. Met with regular airplay on alternative radio, the album's first single, “Up All Night,” suggests a heavier, more serious approach from the band once known for scat humor and masturbation jokes. Blink-182 shares this tour with modern-day glam-rockers My Chemical Romance, who last year released the concept album Danger Days: The True Lives of the Fabulous Killjoys, which plays like a Queen-inspired sci-fi rock opera.
WEDNESDAY, AUG. 24
The Hold Steady w/ The Donkeys @ Turner Hall Ballroom, 7 p.m.
Celebrated by fans as literary rock 'n' roll saviors and derided by detractors as a glorified bar band, Brooklyn's The Hold Steady divides its time between rousing tales of spiritual redemption and the American dream and more commonplace accounts of passing out at concerts, stumbling around drunk or making out at a detox tent—stories that lyricist and frontman Craig Finn packs with allusions to the works of Jack Kerouac and fellow Minnesotan John Berryman. The group's typically divisive latest album, last year's Heaven Is Whenever, is Finn's rumination on aging.
The Hold Steady