This Week in Milwaukee: August 21-27
Friday, Aug. 22
Mexican Fiesta @ Summerfest Grounds
What began as a Walker’s Point street festival in 1973 eventually expanded into Mexican Fiesta, a three-day celebration of Mexican culture at the Summerfest grounds. The Fiesta features regional cuisine from a variety of local sources; vendors; exhibits involving music, history and heritage; a full lineup of Mexican music in all of its forms; and dance performances. This year’s event also features Lucha Libre wrestling shows, a soccer tournament, a genealogy exhibit and midway rides. Religion plays a unique role at the event. There will be nightly confessions from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m., and Sunday’s festival begins with a huge procession and Mass at the Marcus Amphitheater at 10:15 a.m. (Through Sunday, Aug. 24.)
Saturday, Aug. 23
Rusty Ps w/ Dana Coppa and SpeakEasy and KingHellBastard @ Mad Planet, 9 p.m.
For years The Rusty Ps were one of Milwaukee’s best-known hip-hop acts, thanks to collaborations with members of The Pharcyde and Atmosphere that found an audience far outside of the state. The group, now reduced to the core duo of rappers Count Classic and Phantom Channel, isn’t as active as it once was, but they’ve continued recording, releasing funky new singles here and there, saving up enough new material for their seventh and latest album, Pull The Trigger, which they’ll celebrate the release of tonight. For their set they’ll be backed by the live band Evan Christian and the Stinkies, and joined on the bill by the rap duo Dana Coppa and SpeakEasy and the reunited hip-hop group KingHellBastard.
Artbeat in the Heat @ The Hide House, noon-10 p.m.
Located at 2625 S. Greeley St., Bay View’s Hide House is one of the city’s great art hubs, housing studios, galleries and practice spaces for dozens of Milwaukee artists and musicians. Each year the building hosts a free, daylong outdoor arts festival, Artbeat in the Heat, which this year will feature the usual art displays, a kid’s art booth, a skateboard area sponsored by Sky High, a live mural painting open to everybody (paint and brushes will be provided) and, of course, a ton of great live music. This year’s band lineup includes Kane Place Record Club, Fresh Cut Collective, Annie B and the Complication, Max & The Invaders, The Quiet Time, Family Power Music, Mia & the Bear and B. J. Fisher.
Jimmy Buffett @ Alpine Valley, 8 p.m.
Don’t let his carefree demeanor and casual Hawaiian shirts fool you: Jimmy Buffett is quite the savvy businessman. When he’s not singing novelty hits about the beach-bum lifestyle, he’s inking million-dollar deals to briefly rename the Miami Dolphins’ home field Land Shark Stadium (named after his beach-themed beverage) and pulling in a combined total of $100 million each year between touring and various business ventures, restaurants and royalties. And while most songwriters of his era have become nostalgia acts, Buffett remains a bona fide cultural phenomenon and one of the biggest touring draws in the world. His 2009 studio album Buffett Hotel was a typically laid-back affair, which he recorded after late-night surfing sessions, and last year’s Songs from St. Somewhere coasted on a similarly chill vibe.
Milwaukee Carnival @ Horny Goat Brew Pub, 3 p.m.
A long-forgotten Milwaukee festival, the Milwaukee Carnival was originally conceived as a celebration of the city’s 50th anniversary. The celebration has been revived and updated for the modern era at Horny Goat Brew Pub and features classic carnival games such as balloon darts, a bouncy house for adults and entertainment by Milwaukee-based sideshow act group Dead Man’s Carnival. The pop-rap group Far East Movement, of “Like a G6” fame, will be headlining the Carnival, along with Milwaukee musicians Klassik and GGOOLLDD. The one-day festival also includes a competition pitting Milwaukee bars against each other in drinking-themed games such as keg bowling and a flip cup relay race.
Sunday, Aug. 24
Grouplove w/ Portugal. The Man @ The Rave, 7:30 p.m.
Alaskan psychedelic rockers Portugal. The Man and the Los Angeles indie band Grouplove share a stage at the Rave Sunday night as part of the Honda Civic Tour. Grouplove brings upbeat songs anchored by lively keyboards and synths and marked by the male/female dynamic of singers Christian Zucconi and Hannah Hooper, while Portugal. The Man delivers a more classic brand of rock ’n’ roll with hints of Pink Floyd and sing-along choruses that often break into soaring falsetto. Portugal. The Man’s latest album Evil Friends is a collaboration with ever-in-demand producer Danger Mouse that draws inspiration from Dark Side of the Moon, while Grouplove released their peppy sophomore album Spreading Rumours last year.
Chris Isaak @ Potawatomi Hotel and Casino, 8 p.m.
Singer Chris Isaak is best known for the 1989 song “Wicked Game,” a testament to the destructive powers of love delivered in an impassioned falsetto that gained popularity after it was featured in David Lynch’s 1990 film Wild at Heart. Between the occasional acting gig (including an appearance in Silence of the Lambs and a starring role in his own Showtime series), Isaak has continued releasing albums that spotlight his signature mix of rockabilly guitar and sweet falsetto. His last, Beyond the Sun, is a compilation of cover songs from country and rockabilly artists such as Johnny Cash and Elvis Presley.
STRFKR @ The Rave, 7:30 p.m.
Apparently, when you name your band Starfucker, you’re asking for some headaches. As a result, the Portland, Ore., electro-rock band has flirted with name changes in recent years, first rechristening themselves Pyramid, and then Pyramiddd, before finally returning to their original Starfucker (which they sometimes spell out as the more-publishable STRFKR). Their music is never as harsh or subversive as their band name, though. In fact, their 2011 record Reptilians was an accessible collection of bright, danceable pop in the spirit of Passion Pit, and last year’s Miracle Mile was even more upbeat and dance-friendly.
Tuesday, Aug. 26
Desert Noises @ Marcus Center for the Performing Arts Peck Pavilion, 7:30 p.m.
Desert Noises hail from the Utah and, true to their name, their echoing and crashing major label debut 27 Ways sounds as though it would be right at home in the vastness of the desert. Playing with folk influences while remaining grounded in rock, the band is reminiscent of a crisper and more energetic Band of Horses mixed with Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers. Their folk side comes out in the slide guitar and harmonized vocals of “Oak Tree,” while single “Follow You Out” builds from quiet fingerpicking to a crashing chorus backed by plaintive vocals and a steady bassline.
Wednesday, Aug. 27
River Rhythms w/ Altered Five @ Pere Marquette Park, 6:30 p.m.
Milwaukee’s Altered Five evolved from being mostly a cover band to crafting their own songs with their 2012 release Gotta Earn It. The earthy gusto the group brought to covers of the Rolling Stones and Prince is carried over to originals such as the jazzy and playful “Mona Lisa,” and the heartfelt ballad “Three Wishes.” The group also won Blues Artist of the Year honors at the 2014 Wisconsin Area Music Awards.
Wednesdays at the Shell w/ De La Buena @ Washington Park, 6:30 p.m.
Milwaukee’s 10-piece Latin jazz ensemble De La Buena rolls elements of salsa, samba, jazz, bossa nova and more into a cohesive and instantly enjoyable musical style that uses Latin sounds as a launching pad to explore dozens of different ideas. Based around traditional salsa and African percussion, the group relies on a backbone of conga and drums to create a solid foundation for piano, multiple guitars and a showy brass section. That festive sound has made the group mainstays of just about every outdoor music series in the city, so they should feel right at home at the Washington Park band shell tonight when they play the venue’s Wednesdays at the Shell event this evening.