This Week in Milwaukee: Aug. 3-9, 2017
Riverwest celebrates with one of Milwaukee’s most underrated street festivals, while the Wisconsin State Fair kicks off.
Thursday, Aug. 3
Wisconsin State Fair @ Wisconsin State Fair Grounds
Every year, vendors at the Wisconsin State Fair outdo themselves, delivering some of the weirdest, most decadent and over-the-top festival food imaginable. Among the highlights of this year’s heavily deep-fried new offerings are dessert nachos (with salted caramel and chocolate gelato as the sauce); deep-fried grilled cheese bites; spaghetti and meatball mozzarella sticks, and, from Saz’s, a deep-friend banana burrito with peanut butter and bacon jam. Music performers at this year’s fair, meanwhile, include John Mellencamp, The Beach Boys, Patti LaBelle, Big Bad Voodoo Daddy, GGOOLLDD, Here Come The Mummies and an I Love the ’90s tour with Vanilla Ice, Kid ’n Play, Ton Loc and Young MC. The fair runs through Sunday, Aug. 13.
Friday, August 4
Chris Isaak @ Potawatomi Hotel & Casino, 8 p.m.
With just six more episodes of David Lynch’s Twin Peaks revival left, it’s still unclear whether we’ll ever find out what happened to Chester Desmond, the mysteriously vanished FBI agent played by Chris Isaak in Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me. Thankfully, unlike his character, Isaak himself never disappeared from the public eye. Since scoring his signature hit “Wicked Game,” a song that introduced the world to his impassioned falsetto and gained popularity in part due to its Lynch-directed video, Isaak has continued releasing albums that spotlight his signature mix of rockabilly guitar and lovelorn voice. His latest album, 2015’s First Comes The Night, makes the vintage influences that have always run through his music even more explicit. (Also Saturday, Aug. 5).
Amplified Ales @ MobCraft Brewery, 3-9 p.m.
For this clever Milwaukee Craft Brewery Week event, Mobcraft will host a series of music and beer pairings: A band will perform while a brewery serves a specialty brew. Along with MobCraft, participating breweries include Enlightened, Sprecher, Biloba and Third Space. Highlights of the music lineup include Sweet Sheiks, 4th Street Elevator and The Hungry Williams, a new New Orleans-style jump blues band featuring members of Uptown Savages, Semi-Twang, Blue in the Face and The Subcontinentals (they’ll perform at 7:15 p.m., with the suggested pairing of Third Space’s American pale ale, Happy Place). Food truck Hidden Kitchen MKE will also be on site.
Worriers w/ Typesetter and The Gnar Wave Rangers @ Cactus Club, 9 p.m.
Worriers’ Lauren Denitzio uses the band’s pop-punk as a platform to comment on the flaws of societal norms and institutions, exploring how concepts like gender, queer politics and institutionalized hierarchies shape the way people experience the world. There’s a nervous urgency in the music’s racing guitars, but Denitzio’s vocals charge ahead with steady strength even when the songs touch on tumultuous topics. The band recently released an impassioned single called “Future Me” ahead of their upcoming album, due later this year.
Mt. Joy w/ Trevor Sensor @ The Back Room at Colectivo, 8 p.m.
The indie-folk group Mt. Joy hails from Los Angeles, where they’re currently recording their debut album. The five-piece band only recently decided to pursue music full time and have spent the past year putting out singles inspired by musicians who use art to make a statement, such as Bob Dylan, Paul Simon and The Grateful Dead. Mt. Joy’s fiery song “Sheep” plays on the current political climate surrounding Donald Trump’s presidency, commenting directly on the need for collective action. Though they haven’t quite finished their full-length album, they’re playing all the songs from it on tour this summer.
John Nemeth w/ Delta Routine @ Shank Hall, 8 p.m.
Following his critically acclaimed May release, Feelin’ Freaky, John Nemeth is bringing his dynamic take on the blues on the road for this cross-country tour. The blues, soul and R&B artist has put out nine albums to date, establishing himself as a powerhouse leader in the genre. With Feelin’ Freaky, Nemeth incorporates a daring mix of hip-hop and rock influences into his arrangements. His willingness to test genre boundaries has done him well so far, as he’s nominated for a 2017 Blues Music Award in the category of B.B. King Entertainer of the Year.
Saturday, Aug. 5
Center Street Daze @ Center Street, noon
The Locust Street Festival may be Riverwest’s signature summer event, but Center Street Daze arguably does an even better job capturing the quirky, communal spirit that makes the neighborhood a sure treasure. The festival celebrates its 20th year this weekend with a full day of music at venues including The Uptowner, Jazz Gallery, Company Brewing, Quarters Rock ’n’ Roll Palace, Club Timbuktu and Riverwest Radio—and a ton of quirky tournaments and competitions, which in recent years have included push cart races, street pool tournaments, dodgeball and pinball. There will also be a classic car show.
Vanishing Kids w/ Moon Rats and Galactic Hatchet @ Boone & Crockett, 8 p.m.
Zola Jesus may be the most notable goth act ever to spring from Madison, Wis., but, years before she was self-recording dramatic demos, another local band ruled that scene: Vanishing Kids, a shoegazey, goth-pop group that recorded their 2005 album, The Selfish Mirror, with industrial legend Martin Atkins (of Public Image Ltd, Nine Inch Nails, Killing Joke and so many others). The band’s sound has evolved over the last decade, growing considerably heavier as it’s taken on a doomier, psychedelic edge. They’re planning to release a new album next year called Heavy Dreamer.
Monday, August 7
Psychic Temple @ Cactus Club, 9 p.m.
Psychic Temple’s Chris Schlarb has left his mark on many projects, working with Sufjan Stevens, Nels Cline (of Wilco) and Dave Longstreth (of The Dirty Projectors) among many others. The musician, writer and producer revels in free-form, avant-garde compositions, but Psychic Temple is probably his most accessible project. Going from a solo undertaking to a full band in order to realize his vision, Chris Schlarb’s Psychic Temple songs are a mashup of pop, country and jazz. The group’s third and latest album, IV, came out earlier this summer and is their most pop-forward yet.
Wednesday, August 9
Rancid and Dropkick Murphys @ BMO Harris Pavilion, 6:30 p.m.
Coming to prominence from under the wing of the record label Epitaph, the same label that nurtured other punk bands like The Offspring and Green Day around the same time, Rancid quickly amassed a huge following in the ’90s from their frequent airtime on MTV and rock radio. They’ve maintained this following for the last quarter-century—continuing to put out music as blistering and energetic as ever. The Bay Area group put out a new album called Trouble Maker this year to appreciative reviews from music blogs like Pitchfork, Rolling Stone and Consequence of Sound, the latter of which said it might be their catchiest album ever. They’ll split this bill with the Dropkick Murphys, the Celtic punk band whose roaring 2005 song, “I’m Shipping Up to Boston,” has become a staple of sports arenas everywhere.
The Black Lillies @ Turner Hall Ballroom, 8 p.m.
Since forming in 2009, The Black Lillies have worked their way to the forefront of Americana acts. Their music ranges in genre from folk and blues to jazz, though it’s always tinged with underlying country roots. The group went through a lineup shift in ’15, losing two members, but also welcoming new talent in their place, including Bill Reynolds from Band of Horses on bass.