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This Week in Milwaukee: July 20-26, 2017

Jul. 18, 2017
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Photo Credit: Jimmy Fontaine

Thursday, July 20

Guthrie Brown w/ Future Thieves and Clear Pioneer @ Shank Hall, 8 p.m.

Nashville singer-songwriter Guthrie Brown has opened for artists such as Jonny Lang, Willie Nelson, The Lumineers, The Thermals and Robert Randolph. Though he’s only 18, Brown’s music is suggestive of an old soul. His debut EP, 2016’s Natural, is the type of nuanced alternative rock that takes some artists a lifetime to cultivate. Brown will share this show with fellow Nashville band Future Thieves, who are set to release their follow up to their 2015 album Horizon Line this fall.

Friday, July 21
Festa Italiana @ Summerfest Grounds

Festa Italiana returns to Milwaukee this year for its 40th anniversary. The first of all the city’s ethnic festivals, Festa Italiana originated to reunite an Italian community separated by urban development projects. Now the largest Italian festival in the country, it unites many communities in the celebration of Italian culture. This year will feature performances by rock bands The BoDeans and Gin Blossoms, opera trio The Sicilian Tenors, the UW Marching Band and “America’s Got Talent” season 11 finalist Sal “The Voice” Valentinetti, as well as nightly parades, fireworks and the annual “Italian Idol” singing competition. (Through Sunday, July 23.)

Violent Femmes and Echo and the Bunnymen w/ Ava Mendoza, 7:30 p.m.
The term “Milwaukee’s own” has been affixed to countless local bands, but rarely is it used with more pride than when it’s in reference to the Violent Femmes, the most successful, important rock band the city has ever spawned. Few albums have managed to evoke feelings of teenage angst and sexual frustration better than the group’s near-perfect 1983 self-titled debut, a classic that only grows more iconic with each decade. They nodded to that album’s simple, perky sound on their latest release, last year’s We Can Do Anything, a fun if low-stakes exercise in their signature folk-punk that original members Gordon Gano and Brian Ritchie recorded with Dresdon Dolls drummer Brian Viglione. The band will co-headline this show with post-punk greats Echo and the Bunnymen.

JD Eicher w/ Mike Mains & Matt Brown @ Shank Hall, 8 p.m.

Previously performing as JD Eicher and the Goodnights, singer-songwriter JD Eicher released his fourth album, The Middle Distance, in 2016 under a new, shortened name (though the Goodnights are still present in the album’s full sound). The change marks a musical shift for Eicher, whose latest album is more personal than ever before. He’s taken the “longer, scenic route,” as he puts it, to get to this point of truth and understanding in his career, but he’s glad he did. The Middle Distance, diary-like in its lyrics, expresses a self-awareness that isn’t found by taking shortcuts.

Super Serious Poetry Reading @ Voyageur Book Shop, 7 p.m.
As part of its ongoing efforts to debunk the perception of poetry as an inherent buzzkill, Milwaukee’s Vegetarian Alcoholic Press hosts this reading featuring two of its authors, along with Indiana poet Steve Henn, a retired drummer who published his latest book, Indiana Noble Sad Man of the Year, in 2016. Representing Vegetarian Alcoholic will be Oshkosh’s Troy Shoultz, author of Biographies of Runaway Dogs, and Milwaukee’s Annie Grizzle, who recently published the collection Return to the Gathering Place of the Waters.

Saturday, July 22
Milwaukee Firkin Beer Fest @ Cathedral Square Park, 4 p.m.

More than 150 ales and ciders will be available for tasting at Milwaukee Firkin Beer Fest, including more than 40 firkins, i.e. small barrels of cask-conditioned ale. These are more special than other beers because they’re completely unprocessed aside from natural yeast fermentation. After sampling the firkins, attendees can vote for their favorite and help determine which will receive the “Big Firkin Award.” Event-goers can also enjoy live music from the polka-pop group The Squeezettes, food from three beer-compatible food vendors (think pretzels and deep-fried cheese curds) and a free commemorative pint glass just for attending.

All Time Low w/ SWMRS, Waterparks and The Wrecks @ The Rave, 7 p.m.
Who said emo is something you outgrow? All Time Low first received national attention in 2003, when its members were still in high school, but adulthood hasn’t stopped the quartet from continuing to wallow in teen-like angst—albeit to a new background of R&B sounds. Their seventh studio album, The Last Young Renegade, came out earlier this year to favorable reviews, including one from Rolling Stone which, noting the band’s newfound pop influence, commended them for broadening their sound “without jeopardizing what has made them so appealing to young listeners for more than a decade.”

Sunday, July 23
Armenian Fest @ St. John the Baptist Armenian Orthodox Church, 11 a.m.
What began as a family picnic in the ’30s has grown into one of the Midwest’s largest celebrations of Armenian culture. Each year, Milwaukee’s free Armenian Fest at St. John the Baptist Armenian Orthodox Church (7825 W. Layton Ave.) provides a glimpse into the traditions of one of the world’s oldest surviving civilizations, celebrating the American Armenian heritage with a vast sampling of Near Eastern music and Armenian culinary traditions. Snack on homemade shish-kabob, grape leaves, baklava and other Mediterranean favorites between visits to the culture booth, which will sell a variety of Armenian artifacts. Chicago’s Hamazkayin Sardarabad Dance Ensemble will perform around 3 p.m.

Lydia Lunch Retrovirus w/ Aluminum Knot Eye and Suffer Head @ Cactus Club, 9 p.m.

Musician, poet, writer and actor Lydia Lunch is an icon of the late-’70s New York no wave scene, in which artists rebelled against predictable punk rock in favor of experimental noise rock. Lunch’s use of dissonance and atonality pushed sonic boundaries, while her socially and sexually deviant subject matter pushed cultural boundaries. She tours now with a backing trio, Retrovirus, which features former Sonic Youth and Pussy Galore member Bob Bert on drums, performing an assortment of songs spanning her career from her knockout solo works on Queen of Siam to covers like Alice Cooper’s “Black Juju.”


Walter Trout @ Shank Hall, 8 p.m.

Blues musician Walter Trout has some real endurance. After nearly 50 years of playing music—releasing more than two dozen solo albums and playing with the likes of John Lee Hooker, Joe Tex and Big Mama Thornton, among others—it seemed likely that Trout’s career, and possibly life, would end in 2013 when he was diagnosed with cirrhosis of the liver. He spent the following year laying low, re-learning how to speak, walk and play music. This led to the intense, cathartic album Battle Scars in 2015 and, more recently, to his collaborative new album, We’re All In This Together. The album features Joe Bonamassa, John Mayall, Randy Bachman and Kenny Wayne Shepherd and showcases Trout’s palpable new zest for life.

Monday, July 24

Margaret Glaspy w/ Liza Anne @ The Back Room at Colectivo, 8 p.m.

Margaret Glaspy sets herself apart from other indie singer-songwriters with her genre-defying approach to creating music. On her debut 2016 album Emotions and Math, Glaspy’s vulnerable lyrics were complemented by her strong vocals, with each component threaded together over a patchwork of folk, blues, rock and pop influences. Publications that took notice of Glaspy included the New York Times, NPR Music and Billboard, which all included Emotions And Math on their “Best of 2016” year-end lists. Glaspy is joined on tour by folk singer-songwriter Liza Anne.

Tuesday, July 25
Tim and Eric: 10 Year Anniversary Awesome Tour Live @ The Pabst Theater, 8 p.m.
Though Tim Heidecker and Eric Wareheim aren’t cartoons, for several years they were fixtures of the Cartoon Network, filling late-night airtime with their surreal sketch comedy show, “Tim and Eric Awesome Show, Great Job!” With the poorly lit sets and sad production values of late-night public access shows, the duo (and their bounty of celebrity guests) acted out prolonged, deliberately uncomfortable skits about social outcasts and grotesque entertainers. They celebrate the 10-year anniversary of the show with this tour.


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