This Week in Milwaukee: Aug. 24-30, 2017
As summer enters its final stretch, Milwaukee keeps the outdoor festivals coming fast and furious.
Friday, August 25
Mexican Fiesta 2017 @ Summerfest Grounds, 12 p.m.
Like we need an excuse to drink margaritas and listen to live music. This weekend, the Wisconsin Hispanic Scholarship Foundation invites you to be part of the culture-filled, community oriented tradition that is Milwaukee’s annual Mexican Fiesta. The event hosts more than 85,000 attendees each year, offering Mexican and Latin American cuisine, a cultural pavilion with various exhibitions and artisan crafts, the Hotwheelz Car and Motorcycle Show on Saturday and the Fiesta Run & Walk on Sunday. Other entertainment will include live dance and musical performances featuring mariachi, salsa and bachata, among other styles. (Through Sunday, Aug. 27.)
Triple Eye Industries Fest II @ Cactus Club & Club Garibaldi, 4 p.m.
Milwaukee’s noise rock record label Triple Eye Industries celebrates its third birthday with a talent-packed music festival this Friday and Saturday. The event will host over 20 bands on two stages over the course of four shows. Friday’s lineup is local-heavy and includes Milwaukee acts Static Eyes, Soup Moat and Guerilla Ghost among others, while Saturday’s lineup has more regional acts such as War Brides and Sweet Cobra, both of which are from Chicago, and Minneapolis punk band Buildings. Both venues will have a commemorative compilation available for purchase featuring songs from bands performing at the festival. (Also Saturday, Aug. 26.)
Serbian Days Festival @ St. Sava Serbian Orthodox Cathedral, 5 p.m.
One of the city’s oldest ethnic festivals, Milwaukee’s Serbian Days Festival returns this weekend for its 62nd year. The three-day festival is a great family event, with live Serbian and American bands to dance and sing along to, carnival rides, games, cultural exhibits, crafts, church tours and a raffle. Between activities attendees can nosh on homemade food including barbeque lamb, pork and chicken, burek (savory pastries), sarma (stuffed cabbage rolls) and cevapcici (skinless sausage). Head over to Serb Hall for after-parties Friday and Saturday to jam to more Serbian music until 2 a.m. (Through Sunday, Aug. 27.)
Over The Rhine @ The Back Room at Colectivo, 7 p.m.
The husband-and-wife-fronted folk band Over The Rhine sometimes feel like an audio incarnation of the book series Chicken Soup for the Soul. Whether they’re singing about learning to laugh through tears and love without fear on “Born” or leaving mistakes in the past on “Meet Me at the Edge of the World,” there’s an undeniable calming effect to the gentle insightfulness of their music, which they describe as “post-nuclear, pseudo-alternative, folk-tinged art-pop.” Despite their small-town namesake (Over-the-Rhine is a neighborhood in their hometown of Cincinnati), the band have left impressions around the world in their decades-spanning career, even playing with greats like Bob Dylan, John Prine and My Morning Jacket.
Trailer Park Boys @ The Riverside Theater, 8 p.m.
When comedians Robb Wells, John Paul Tremblay and Mike Smith created their white-trash characters Ricky, Julian and Bubbles for the Canadian mockumentary series Trailer Park Boys, they probably realize how much longevity their act has had. The Trailer Park Boys have now been doing their thing for 11 TV seasons (with a 12th season for Netflix on the way), three movies (including 2014’s Don’t Legalize It) and a couple of specials. There’s no set formula for the group’s live appearances, but in the past they’ve featured puppet shows, musical numbers and comedy sketches.
Saturday, Aug. 26
Milwaukee Fringe Festival @ Marcus Center for the Performing Arts, 12 p.m.
The history of the original Fringe Festival goes back to 1947 when eight theater companies, after being passed up for inclusion in the Edinburgh International Festival, decided to perform anyway on the literal fringe of the larger festival. Since then, artistically inclined cities have thrown Fringe Festivals as a way to showcase local talent. Milwaukee threw its first fringe festival last year and will reprise the event this weekend with its second city-wide celebration of art, music and dance. This year will feature more than 25 performances by amateur and professional artists in poetry, music composition, theater, jazz and hip-hop dancing, classical and contemporary ballet, comedy, puppetry and more. (Also Sunday, Aug. 27.)
Darsombra w/ The Old Northwest @ Circle-A Café, 8 p.m.
The Baltimore psych-rock project Darsombra puts nearly as much emphasis on visuals as they do their actual music, often performing against a projection of unusual visuals and swirled colors that complement their droning space rock. They’re touring behind their latest album Polyvision, which they released on Translation Loss Records (and on cassette through the label Sonic Meditations). They’ll play an early show at Circle A Café with openers The Old Northwest, followed by a 10 p.m. DJ set from Paul Host.
Sunday, Aug. 27
Playboi Carti w/ Young Nudy and Pierre Bourne @ The Rave, 8 p.m.
Playboi Carti last played Milwaukee just this spring, warming up the Eagles Ballroom for Gucci Mane. That was a fateful day for the 20-year-old Atlanta rapper: It was the same day his self-titled debut mixtape dropped. A twitchy little thing, it showcased Carti’s minimalist approach to rapping (he doesn’t have “verses” in the traditional sense) and his gift for weird, sticky beats that worm their way into your head whether you’d like them to or not. It also contains one of this summer’s most memorable rap hits, “Magnolia,” a song that’s spawned countless freestyles and viral videos.
Indigo Girls w/ Becky Warren @ The Pabst Theater, 8 p.m.
Amy Ray and Emily Saliers have come a long way since the Indigo Girls’ 1987 debut Strange Fire broke into the world of mainstream pop with its hit “Closer to Fine.” The Indigo Girls have remained one of the most popular folk-rock duos over the last three decades, releasing 15 studio albums including 2015’s One Lost Day, one of their biggest, most expansive records yet. Like many of their recent records, it fleshed out the duo’s emotional folk music with lush, orchestral accompaniments, as the band explored familiar themes of nostalgia and coming of age.
Tuesday, August 29
Donald Fagen and the Nightflyers @ The Riverside Theater, 8 p.m.
Usually when just one member of an band comes to town, it’s cause for less celebration than when their main band performs. But in the case of Donald Fagen, the Steely Dan singer and keyboardist who has come to Milwaukee quite a bit with that band over the last decade, it’ll be a refreshing change of pace—a chance to hear some of the worthwhile solo material that Fagen doesn’t get a chance to perform when on tour with Steely Dan. The name of Fagen’s backing band suggests the setlist will include quite a bit of material from Fagen’s 1982 solo debut, The Nightfly, though it’s a safe bet that some material from Fagen’s rich, jazzy 2012 album, Sunken Condos, will be covered, too.
Warpaint w/ Rose of the West @ Turner Hall Ballroom, 8 p.m.
Returning to Milwaukee for the first time since opening for Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds in 2014, Los Angeles-based band Warpaint are back with another album under their belt and an overdue headlining show. The band may move in indie-rock circles, but R&B and hip-hop loom large over their dreamy, dubby sound. Inspired by artists as diverse as Kendrick Lamar, Outkast and Janet Jackson, their most recent album Heads Up is yet another enthralling exploration of sound and genre, filled with sugary, aerial vocals and rhythmic tension.
Wednesday, Aug. 30
Lil Yachty @ The Rave, 8 p.m.
Like so many of rap’s newer crossover stars, Lil Yachty blurs the lines between rapping and singing. The 20-year-old Atlanta native sings in a leisurely, agreeably melodic croon, and since his breakout single “1 Night” creeped its way onto rap radio last spring, he’s been everywhere, guesting on songs by Post Malone, D.R.A.M., Offset and Bankroll Mafia, and appearing with Young Thug on Chance The Rapper’s “Mixtape.” As with so many young rappers with the “Lil” prefix in their name, Yachty isn’t for everybody, but he knows his audience. “We are the youth!” he yelled on the opener of his mixtape, Summer Songs 2. His commercial debut, Teenage Emotions, didn’t quite make good on the promise of Yachty’s rock-star persona, but can’t be faulted for lack of spirit.