This Week in Milwaukee: Sept. 14-20, 2017
On the docket this week: A couple of big comedians, a ton of indie-rock, a tattoo convention and one enormous Bay View street party.
Thursday, Sept. 14
X w/ Skating Polly @ Turner Hall Ballroom, 8 p.m.
New York may have been the hub of the American punk scene in the genre’s early years, but X proved that Los Angeles had something to bring to the table, too. The group toasted the city on their iconic 1980 album Los Angeles, and after all these decades, it still remains near and dear to their hearts. Last year, singer-songwriter John Doe released a book about the music scene that spawned them called Under The Big Black Sun: A Personal History of L.A. Punk.
Friday, Sept. 15
Rainer Maria w/ Olivia Neutron-John @ The Back Room at Colectivo, 8 p.m.
One of the most notable emo bands ever to spring from Wisconsin, the Madison-born trio Rainer Maria made an immediate impression with their emotionally volatile, lyrically precise take on the genre. Like nearly all acts from their scene around the turn of the century, they’ve since reunited, but unlike most of those acts, they actually have a genuinely worthwhile new album to show for it. Rather than trying to relive past glories, this year’s S/T (not “self-titled,” just S/T) is the work of a harder, heavier incarnation of the band. It’s one of the year’s most satisfying rock records.
John Mulaney @ The Riverside Theater, 7 and 9:30 p.m.
As a writer on “Saturday Night Live,” John Mulaney quickly established himself as one of the show’s most valuable behind-the-scenes players, co-creating Bill Hader’s “Weekend Update” nightlife correspondent, Stefon. Since then, Mulaney has emerged from the writers’ room to claim the spotlight for himself with some well-regarded stand-up specials. Even the disastrous, short-lived Fox sitcom “Mulaney”—a loose “Seinfeld” rip that starred Mulaney as a lightly fictionalized version of himself—did little to hurt his standing in the comedy world.
Greta Van Fleet w/ Welles @ The Rave, 8 p.m.
What a difference a great frontman can make. With his kinetic moves and magnificent wail, Joshua Kiszka has helped make his Michigan-born band Greta Van Fleet one of the most buzzed-about young bands in hard rock. Joined in the band by his brother Samuel on bass and keyboards and his brother Jacob on guitar, as well as drummer Daniel Wagner, he rips through four wild songs on their group’s new EP, Black Smoke Rising, released this spring. The hype around the band has been so great that they’ve sold out every show on their latest tour—including this one at the Rave.
Hari Kondabolu @ The Underground Collaborative, 7:30 and 9:30 p.m.
Plenty of comics draw inspiration from current events, but politics loom especially large over the work of standup Hari Kondabolu. A former intern for Hillary Clinton during her days in the senate, Kondabolu rose to prominence with his politically charged routines. Titled for the year it’s predicted that white Americans will be a statistical minority in the United States, his debut album, Waiting for 2042, touched on subjects all too familiar in progressive circles, such as friends threatening to move to Canada if they don’t get their political way and the unrealistic expectations that surrounded Barack Obama.
Grand Opening Weekend @ The Crimson Club
West Allis has quite a few bars, but not many that meet the conventional definition of “upscale.” Officially opening this weekend at 7211 W. Greenfield Ave., The Crimson Club hopes to change that, with its modern décor and its emphasis on dance music and craft cocktails. West Allis Mayor Dan Devine will host a ribbon-cutting ceremony for the venue at 3 p.m. on Friday, which will be followed by food and drink specials starting at 6 p.m. that night. Then on Saturday, the venue will throw an official party beginning at 8 p.m., complete with a red carpet and a champagne toast.
Tattoo Arts Convention @ Wisconsin Center, 2 p.m.
More than 300 tattoo artists will swing through Milwaukee this weekend as part of the traveling Tattoo Arts Convention, now appearing for its eighth year in Wisconsin. Among the artists tattooing throughout the weekend will be veterans of the Spike TV series “Ink Master,” as well as the shows “Best Ink,” “Tattoo Nightmares” and “Black Ink Crew.” There will also be more than 25 categories of tattoo contests, displays of tattoo collectibles and memorabilia and performances from burlesque artists and carnival sideshow acts. (Also 11 a.m., Sept. 16 and 17.)
Saturday, Sept. 16
Bay View Bash @ Kinnickinnic Avenue
It’s a testament to Bay View residents’ enthusiasm for their neighborhood that each year so many of them get together as volunteers to put on the Bay View Bash, a sprawling street festival that runs a good stretch of Kinnickinnic Avenue. Attractions at the festival’s five stages this year include strong man competition, belly dancing, the Milwaukee Flyers tumbling team and music from acts that include NO/NO, Metal Men, Chief, Abbey Jeanne, Twin Brother, Paladino and Slow Walker. With more than 140 vendors lined up, this is a great chance to familiarize yourself with the neighborhood’s many local businesses.
Monday, Sept. 18
The Flaming Lips w/ Mac DeMarco @ The Rave, 7 p.m.
After the fluke success of their 1994 single “She Don’t Use Jelly,” The Flaming Lips emerged as one of the few bands of the alternative-rock era to reinvent themselves for indie-rock audiences by using their major-label budget to create lavish and uplifting experimental rock albums, like 1999’s The Soft Bulletin and 2002’s Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots and earning a reputation for their celebratory, prop-heavy live shows. Even as that band has explored darker, more psychedelic territory on their most recent albums, they’ve retained their trademark sense of mischief. They’ll share this show with a younger peer with his own distinctive sense of humor: Canadian oddball rocker Mac DeMarco, who released his third album, This Old Dog, this spring.
Human Heat w/ Norwegian Arms @ Company Brewing, 9 p.m.
As the songwriter behind the Brooklyn indie-rock band Yellow Ostrich, Alex Schaaf specialized in blistering guitars, odd noises and twisty tunes. It was busy, dynamic music. With his latest project, Human Heat, Schaaf goes for something much more even-tempered. Mixed and mastered by Bon Iver producer Zach Hanson at Justin Vernon’s April Base studio in Northern Wisconsin, Human Heat’s just-released debut full-length All Is Too Much offers a warm canvas of synthesizers and smooth, R&B-inspired rhythms, with shades of Dirty Projectors and James Blake. It’s far removed from the quirk-rock of Yellow Ostrich, but Schaaf wears this sophisticated sound well.
Tuesday, Sept. 19
Oh Sees w/ The Hussy and Solid Freex @ Turner Hall Ballroom, 8 p.m.
Aside from band leader John Dwyer, the only constant across Thee Oh Sees’ dozens of releases has been change. Over the years, the comically prolific band has evolved from an experimental folk act into an inventive psych-rock act and, on recent albums, a stoner-rock powerhouse. Even the band’s name has changed. This year, Dwyer announced not one but two band name changes: They became simply Oh Sees for their most recent album, Orc, released just this summer; but not weeks later they rebranded themselves OCS in anticipation of yet another new album, Memory of a Cut Off Head, due in November, which returns Dwyer and company to the intimate folk of their very earliest releases. Which version of the band will show up for this show? We can honestly say we have no idea.