This Week in Milwaukee: June 8-14, 2017
Thursday, June 8
Florentine Opera at the Lake @ Colectivo Lakefront, 7 p.m.
There aren’t many art forms that seem less accessible to mass audiences than opera, which has a reputation for stodginess that dates back literally centuries. Each year, though, the Florentine Opera Company makes the case that opera isn’t just for the monocle-adorned elite with its free concert series as various Colectivo locations, including four at Colectivo’s Lakefront café. Expect to hear a variety of arias and ensemble pieces.
Friday, June 9
PrideFest @ Henry Maier Festival Park
From the incredible sense of community and colorful fashion to shiver-inducing live performances, there are many reasons to love PrideFest. For its 30th anniversary, this year’s celebration of LGBTQ Milwaukee will be bigger, louder and prouder than ever before. The bands Betty Who, 10,000 Maniacs and Har Mar Superstar are just a few of many acts lined up—though much of the action happens at the dance stage, where an array of DJs and drag performers keep the party going late into the night. The festival kicks off at 3 p.m. on Friday following a mile-long Pride Parade at 2 p.m. (Through Sunday, June 11.)
Motofest @ Road America
Once again, motorsports enthusiasts from around the country congregate in unassuming Plymouth, Wisc., for the American Historic Racing Motorcycle Association’s 14th annual installment of the Rockerbox Motofest. Aside from the highly anticipated ride-in motorcycle show, race circuits and countless vendors for all things motorcycling, the event will feature live music, zip-lining and disc golf. Bring camping supplies if you’re the kind of rider who would rather not spring for a hotel or Airbnb. (Through Sunday, June 11.)
Sunday, June 11
Southside Bicycle Day @ Clarke Square, noon-4 p.m.
It’s hard to imagine childhood without a bicycle. That’s why each year the local company Rebel Wipes sponsors Southside Bicycle Day. The event closes down a good chunk of streets between Layton Boulevard and Cesar Chavez Drive between National and Greenfield Avenues, giving cyclists a car-free route to ride. The main attraction, though, is the bike giveaway. The organization will be giving away a whopping 1,000 bicycles to kids.
Tuesday, June 13
R. Ring w/ Dorth Nakota @ Cactus Club, 9 p.m.
If Kelley Deal’s time with The Breeders (alongside her famous twin sister, Kim Deal of The Pixies) was her musical coming of age, her new stripped-down project R. Ring is her graduation. Deal formed R. Ring with Mike Montgomery of the post-rock band Ampline in 2011, and has since released only a small (but promising) trail of singles. More is on the way, though: This year, the duo will release their debut full-length album, Ignite The Rest. It’ll be Deal’s first major work since The Breeders released their final album, Mountain Battles, in 2008.
Portugal. The Man w/ Electric Guest @ The
Pabst Theater, 8 p.m.
Alternative rock band Portugal. The Man haven’t put out an album since 2013, but with the release date set for June 16 for their long-awaited new album, Woodstock, their fans won’t need to wait much longer; the interim is even shorter for those who catch the band at this stop of their latest tour, where the group will surely share some sneak peeks. The Alaskan quintet’s live performances can be pretty hit or miss, with what seems like mostly misses of late as their material has gradually trended more and more dreary. But, who knows? Maybe Woodstock’s impending release will give them enough fuel to blow up the stage again. That the album features production from the Beastie Boys’ Mike D and a guest spot from Pharcyde rapper Fat Lip bodes well for those hoping for more of a party this time around.
Jamestown Revival w/ Colter Wall @ Shank Hall, 8 p.m.
When the Texas duo Jamestown Revival play music, they do more than just fill your ears with heartfelt Americana: They transport you to a back porch gathering somewhere in the South at dusk, where a dry warmth brushes your skin as you laugh and throw back beers with friends. Their songs have a comforting, confessional quality to them that feel more like an intimate conversation between the band and their listeners than a one-way performance. Their 2016 release, The Education Of A Wandering Man, is filled with harmonic country-rock ideal for just such a get-together, or alternatively, a congenial night at Shank Hall.
Rhiannon Giddens @ Turner Hall Ballroom, 8 p.m.
Rhiannon Giddens has produced Grammy Award-winning music as the frontwoman of folk outfit the Carolina Chocolate Drops, yet she continues to reach new levels of nuance and self-awareness with her solo effort. The singer-songwriter certainly has the credentials to wow: She’s trained in opera and is skilled in a variety of instruments—fiddle and banjo among them. Giddens is currently touring in support of Freedom Highway, which explores themes of African American identity in both historical and contemporary contexts.
Wednesday, June 14
Chastity Belt w/ Sneaks @ Cactus Club, 9 p.m.
Chastity Belt are an all-women, feminist punk band from Washington. It’s easy, then, to simply label them riot grrrls, and they are in some ways reflective of that movement, but Chastity Belt are too multifaceted to be pigeonholed into one scene. The band’s first two albums were brazen, playful and untroubled, exploring topics like sex and drugs with shameless, youthful confidence. On their third album, I Used to Spend So Much Time Alone, however, growing older has ironically led the band to insecurities akin to a second puberty. The newfound vulnerability becomes them and should make their live performance that much more potent.
NEWaukee’s popular night markets are back for another year. Once a month through September, the organization closes off West Wisconsin Avenue between Second and Fourth Streets and fills every crevice with vendors, music, live art, crafts projects, family entertainment and food trucks. If you’ve ever wanted to see a really gigantic Summerfest poster, this is your chance. During the market, a 55-foot-tall image of a new poster for the festival’s 50th edition from BlackPaint Studios will be projected against a building. Signed prints of that poster will be available for purchase, along with a ton of other art.
River Rhythms: Willy Porter and Carmen Nickerson @ Pere Marquette Park, 6:30 p.m.
Another one of the summer’s big outdoor music series kicks off this week. The Westown Association kicks off a summer of Wednesday night concerts at the Pere Marquette Park pavilion with this show from one of the area’s most renowned songwriters, Willy Porter. He’ll perform with his go-to collaborator of late, Carmen Nickerson, a beguiling vocalist who has sung with him on NPR’s “A Prairie Home Companion” and who co-wrote their joint 2016 album, Bonfire to Ash.