This Week in Milwaukee: July 27-Aug. 2, 2017
Big shows from The Killers, Ryan Adams and Social Distortion highlight this week’s concert calendar.
Friday, July 28
German Fest @ Summerfest Grounds
One of America’s largest celebrations of all things German, German Fest invites patrons to raise a stein and honor one of the cultures that helped define Milwaukee. The event celebrates German culture with an abundance of authentic and delicious food, including bratwurst, roast pig, goulash, rollbraten, schnitzel and more. The festival will also feature music and dance performances by The Alex Meixner Band, German brass band Alpensterne, local rock band Copper Box and others, as well as parades, fireworks, a Milwaukee-area battle of the mascots competition and a special opening ceremony salute to the U.S. military. (Through Sunday, July 30).
MishMash Fest @ Art Bar, 5 p.m.
Now entering its seventh year, MishMash Fest returns to Riverwest this weekend for one jam-packed day of entertainment in conjunction with the neighborhood’s iconic Riverwest 24 Bike Race. Once again, the festival will showcase an impressive array of local talent on two stages. This year’s lineup features Community Center with BrewCity Fire Brigade & Renegade Fire, Antler House, The Fog and Lova Nova on the Art Bar Stage and Reckless & Darlene with Liam Ford Band and Do Easy on the Dino’s Stage. There will also be food trucks and drink specials by Art Bar.
Social Distortion w/ Jade Jackson @ The Riverside Theater, 7 p.m.
Spawned from the ’80s Los Angeles hardcore scene, punk rockers Social Distortion came of age alongside bands like The Offspring, Bad Religion, Green Day and AFI. They’ve faced their fair share of hardships over the past three decades, including the heroin addiction of frontman Mike Ness, a revolving-door rotation of members and long hiatuses, and yet they endure. On their most recent album, 2011’s Hard Times and Nursery Rhymes, they used outlaw country to bring new balance and lightness to their classic heavy, punk rock sound. Opening for Social Distortion is country-rock artist Jade Jackson, who worked with Social Distortion’s Mike Ness as the producer of her debut album, Gilded, released in May.
Autograph w/ American Zeros @ Shank Hall, 8 p.m.
Best known for their hit single, 1984’s “Turn Up The Radio” (and maybe their iconic ’80s glam hairstyles, too), Autograph didn’t have a particularly long run. The rockers formed in ’83 and were already disbanded by ’89. Though they played with greats like Van Halen and Aerosmith, they couldn’t quite keep up with Los Angeles’ thriving pop-metal scene. 2014 brought their reunion, the original members (sans singer-guitarist Steve Plunkett) back together and touring. Their sets include classic fan favorites such as “Deep End,” “Blondes in Black Cars” and, of course, “Turn Up the Radio,” as well as their three new singles, “I Lost My Mind in America,” “You Are Us, We Are You” and “Every Generation.”
Saturday, July 29
TRUE Skool Block Party @ Marcus Center, noon
Since 2004, the Milwaukee nonprofit TRUE Skool has used hip-hop culture to educate and reach out to at-risk youth. This free party at the Marcus Center’s Peck Pavilion should give a sense of what the organization is all about. It’ll feature live hip-hop and art, a children’s craft area, a skate jam and the Circulate Creative Entrepreneur market, the latter featuring original art, fashion and skin and body products. For those 21 and up, there’s also a TRUE Skool boat cruise after the event at 7 p.m., which will feature a variety of food from local vendors and raffle prizes.
Ryan Adams @ The Riverside Theater, 8 p.m.
It should have been a cheap novelty. In 2015, Ryan Adams released the riskiest album of his career, 1989, a song-for-song cover of the most recent Taylor Swift album, featuring room-silencing renditions of pop-radio hits like “Shake It Off” and “Bad Blood.” It arrived at a particularly eclectic point in Adams’ career—a time when the singer-songwriter had been ping-ponging between electric and acoustic releases (and even releasing a few punk 7-inchers on the side). His latest album Prisoner, however, finds a kind of middle ground. Recorded after his divorce from Mandy Moore, it’s a warm, welcoming set of tunes about working through heartbreak.
Tuesday, August 1
Dawes @ The Pabst Theater, 8 p.m.
Formerly known as Simon Dawes, Dawes is a folk-rock band from Los Angeles. The group gained momentum right away with their formation in 2009, their laid back approach to indie rock a welcomed nod to folk-rock music of the ’60s and ’70s. Their debut album, North Hills, drew attention to the band for its “authentically vintage” sound, as Rolling Stone magazine called it; the band recorded it on analogue tape in a live setting. Dawes have released five albums to date, including last year’s We’re All Gonna Die, in which they showcase their new, starker sound with stripped-back guitar parts and added keyboards. The result still sounds vintage, but with added vibrancy and richness.
PUP w/ Meat Wave @ Turner Hall Ballroom, 8 p.m.
Toronto indie-punks PUP take their name from an acronym for “pathetic use of potential.” Despite this self-deprecation, the four-piece outfit have done quite well for themselves since forming in 2011. Their debut, self-titled album was an immediate success; CBC Radio 3, a Canadian radio network, named them “best live show” and “best new artist,” and it wasn’t long before success followed in the States. After releasing PUP to all of North America in 2014, they played on a mostly sold-out tour with Philadelphia emo band Modern Baseball. Their latest album, The Dream Is Over, was one of last year’s best rock albums, its bleak themes communicated through spinning hooks and shout-worthy lyrics.
Wednesday, Aug. 2
Foxygen @ Turner Hall Ballroom, 8 p.m.
Foxygen no longer seem dead set on sabotaging themselves; for a time, the band was as well known for their in-fighting, on-stage meltdowns and concert cancelations as they were their spirited indie rock. Just a couple years after their 2013 breakthrough album, We Are the 21st Century Ambassadors of Peace and Magic, and shortly after the release of 2014’s …And Star Power, the group announced they were breaking up. They didn’t, though. They returned for this year’s Hang, an audacious, symphonic rock album recorded with arranger Matthew E. White and a 40-piece orchestra. Nothing else released this year sounds remotely like it.
The Killers @ Eagles Ballroom, 8 p.m.
The Killers quickly established themselves as one of the biggest alternative acts in the country, thanks for to a pair of blockbuster albums—Hot Fuss and Sam’s Town—and singles like “Mr. Brightside” and “When You Were Young.” But, as the band’s popularity flattened at the end of the ’00s, singer Brandon Flowers made the leap to become a solo artist. Without downplaying his pop instincts, his 2010 solo debut, Flamingo, positioned him as a heartland rock singer-songwriter a la ’80s Bruce Springsteen. His 2015 follow-up, The Desired Effect, mines the same era of MTV but thinks bigger—drawing from the high-gloss production of Duran Duran, Madonna and Dire Straits. All signs suggest some of those ideas from his solo career may filter into his work with The Killers, too. Though we don’t entirely know what to expect from the band’s upcoming fifth album, Wonderful Wonderful, set for release this September, we do know it features a cameo from Dire Straits’ Mark Knopfler.