This Week in Milwaukee: Sept. 8-14
Matthew Sweet w/ David Ryan Harris and Gabe Dixon @ Shank Hall, 8 p.m.
Big Star may have perfected power-pop in the ’70s, but the genre enjoyed a second renaissance in the ’90s thanks to bands like The Posies and Matthew Sweet, who updated those hooky riffs just enough to capture the angsty zeitgeist of the era’s alt-rock. Sweet’s 1991 album Girlfriend remains a masterpiece of the form, but many of the albums that have followed have been nearly as good. In between Under the Covers, a series of low-key covers albums he recorded with Bangles singer Susanna Hoff, Sweet shared some worthy new originals on his 2011 album Modern Art, and a new record, Tomorrow Forever, is slated for next year.
Friday, Sept. 9
Indian Summer @ Summerfest Grounds
The unofficial finale of Milwaukee’s summer festival season, each year Indian Summer celebrates the rich cultural heritage of Great Lakes Native American communities. Annual attractions include Native American arts and craft demonstrations, storytelling demonstrations, an array of dance performances, tribal farmers market and lacrosse games, all of which are best enjoyed while snacking on some traditional fry bread. Other popular food offerings include bison, walleye, wild rice and hominy soup. And for those who didn’t get their fill this summer, there will be a fireworks display Saturday night at 10 p.m. (Through Sept. 11.)
TosaFest @ Downtown Wauwatosa, 6 p.m.
Wauwatosa has changed considerably over the last couple of decades. It’s now a hub for some of Milwaukee’s trendiest shops and most popular restaurants. One thing that has remained constant over the years, though, is TosaFest, a two-day festival now in its 41st year. Attractions this year include an artist’s corner, children’s games, cupcake and chili contests, and three stages of music featuring performers like Groove Therapy, Altered 5 Blues Band, Greg Koch, Sam Llanas and Cowboy Mouth. Come hungry: There will be more than two dozen food vendors there. (Also Saturday, Sept. 10, 11 a.m.-11:30 p.m.)
Mavis Staples @ Potawatomi Hotel & Casino, 8 p.m.
Soul great Mavis Staples will always be best known for her work with The Staple Singers, a group that recorded a string of great records throughout the ’60s and ’70s and scored the hit “I’ll Take You There,” but her underappreciated late-period records are plenty remarkable in their own right. She reflected on the civil rights movement, a topic near to her heart, for 2007’s gospel-minded We’ll Never Turn Back, before teaming with Wilco’s Jeff Tweedy for 2010’s wonderfully stripped-down You Are Not Alone and 2013’s sequel, One True Vine. That album featured background vocals from Kelly Hogan and drums from Tweedy’s son, Spencer.
Fish Fry & A Flick: ‘Star Wars: The Force Awakens’ @ Discovery World, 5 p.m.
Director J.J. Abrams did the impossible with his long-anticipated Star Wars sequel: He made it feel less like a cynical ploy to resurrect a very lucrative franchise and created a work that left fans feeling genuinely, unabashedly thrilled about the series’ future. It helps that he recruited a top-notch cast that includes game newcomers like Adam Driver and Daisy Ridley, and returning alums Mark Hamill and Harrison Ford. Tonight the Discovery World screens The Force Awakens for free outdoors as the final installment in its 2016 Fish Fry & A Flick series. The movie starts at dusk.
@ The Riverside Theater, 8 p.m.
Did Trevor Noah ruin “The Daily Show?” That’s a loaded question. Taking over for Jon Stewart, the man who pioneered the brand of smart, loaded political fake news that now dominates late night comedy, was never going to be easy for anybody, and Noah is certainly a charismatic enough replacement—there are certainly much less pleasant comedians to spend a half an hour with. But even though “The Daily Show” has retained much of the same writing staff it had under Stewart’s reign, it’s somehow lost its bite. Each night it can be counted on to give, at best, the third or fourth funniest take on the latest political outrage, and the show has already lost much of its prestige. This standup performance will provide audiences a chance to see what Noah is capable of when he isn’t being directly compared to Stewart, and when he’s given the freedom to leave more of a personal stamp on his material.
Saturday, Sept. 10
WMSE Backyard BBQ @ Humboldt Park, noon
For the last six years WMSE’s annual Backyard BBQ music festival has taken place at Cathedral Square Park, in the station’s proverbial backyard just a block behind its studio. This year it’s shaking things up: The event will be held on Saturday, Sept. 10 in Bay View at the Humboldt Park band shell. The concept remains unchanged, though. Once again the event will feature food from local vendors and a mix of country, roots-rock, world music and soul, with performers including Sonny Knight and the Lakers, Balkun Brothers, Trapper Schoepp, Midwest Death Rattle and Doghouse Flowers. The event is free and runs from noon to 8 p.m.
Astronautalis w/ Oxymorons and WC Tank @ Cacuts Club, 9 p.m.
Minneapolis Astronautalis rhymes in a mellow, rhythmic flow that owes much to spoken-word poetry over laid-back beats that take cues from rootsy indie-rock. His ties aren’t limited to the regional hip-hop scene, either. His 2011’s This Is Our Science featured a wide array of guests that reflected his cross-genre interests, including Doomtree collective members P.O.S., Sims, Cecil Otter and Lazerbeak, and members of the rock bands Tegan and Sara, Riverboat Gamblers and Midlake. His latest record Cut the Body Loose, released this spring on the indie label SideOneDummy Records, reunited him with indie-rock producer John Congleton.
Sunday, Sept. 11
Eric Andre @ Turner Hall Ballroom, 8 p.m.
Though he’s had his share of more conventional television roles, most memorably on the ABC sitcom “Don’t Trust the B---- in Apartment 23” and more recently on FXX’s “Man Seeking Woman,” comedian Eric Andre is best known as the host of Adult Swim’s “Eric Andre Show,” a gonzo public access parody he co-hosts with fellow comedy hero Hannibal Buress. The show began as a barely publicized oddity, but its profile has grown each season, as Andre has roped in bigger and more prominent guests. But what does André have in store for this appearance at Turner Hall Ballroom? “Think GG Allin meets Gallagher,” the website promises. “Don’t forget your poncho.”
Tuesday, Sept. 13
Junior Boys @ Turner Hall Ballroom, 8 p.m.
Electronic music has grown considerably louder and rowdier over the last decade, as dubstep has made it a major draw on the festival circuit, but those trends have little to do with the music that Junior Boys make. The critically acclaimed Canadian electronic duo returned after a five-year break this year with a new album, Big Black Coat, and its sound is as beautiful, subtle and insular as ever. Once again the group uses the softer sounds of disco and house music to convey loneliness and emotional isolation, and creates deeply touching music that moves the crowd and the heart.
It’s been a half century since NRBQ formed in Louisville, Ky., and it almost boggles the mind to consider how much territory they’ve covered in that time. In addition to well over a dozen studio albums that blur the lines between rock, jazz, blues and pop, the group has bolstered their cult reputation with original music they recorded for “The Simpsons” and “Space Ghost Coast to Coast.” On this bill, they’re paired with a band with similar cult appeal: Los Straitjackets, an unmistakable surf-rock outfit that performs in Lucha Libre-style wrestling masks.