This Week in Milwaukee: Sept. 7–Sept. 13, 2017
Conor Oberst, Jay Som and ZZ Top prepare for big shows, while Rock the Green showcases its biggest lineup yet.
Thursday, Sept. 7
Today Is The Day w/ Northless, Prezir, Satan’s Dealer & Lost Tribes Of The Moon @ Cactus Club, 9 p.m.
“Peculiar,” “extreme,” “misfits”—these are words critics frequently use to describe the band Today Is The Day. “Influential” is another one. Built around the musical prowess of founder and frontman Steve Austin, these Nashville-based noise rockers are credited as one of the first bands to merge noise rock with heavy metal. They paved new ground with their first few albums in the early ’90s, but their career pinnacle was 1997’s Temple Of The Morning Star, which they’re celebrating now on the album’s 20th anniversary tour. Local heavyweights Northless, Prezir, Satan’s Dealer and Lost Tribes Of The Moon will open for the band’s Milwaukee date.
Friday, Sept. 8
Indian Summer @ Summerfest Grounds
Each year Indian Summer wraps up Milwaukee’s summer run of outdoor ethnic festivals by celebrating the rich cultural heritage of Great Lakes Native American communities. Along with a the daily pow-wows, attractions include Native American arts and craft demonstrations, storytelling demonstrations, an array of dance performances, tribal farmers market and lacrosse games, all of which are best enjoyed while snacking on some fry bread or other traditional foods like bison, walleye, wild rice and hominy soup. And for those who didn’t get their fill this summer, there will be a fireworks display Saturday night at 10 p.m. (Through Sunday, Sept. 10.)
Oktoberfest @ Bavarian Bierhouse
Each fall thousands of patrons raise a stein and sing “Ein Prosit” at the oldest authentic Bavarian Oktoberfest in the Midwest. Since the Bavarian Bierhouse took over this Heidelberg Park tradition last year, the beer selection has changed a bit, but the spirit remains the same: There’s singing, dancing and traditional German foods like rollbraten, strudel and spanferkel (freshly spit-roast pig). The event runs Friday and Saturday this weekend through Oct. 7.
Conor Oberst w/ Phoebe Bridgers @ The Pabst Theater, 8 p.m.
Conor Oberst has had a rough run of it recently. The former emo posterchild has spoken openly about his personal struggles, and about bottoming out after a since-rescinded allegation of rape turned his life upside down. For a time, he became toxic even in some of his most devoted fan circles. It didn’t help anything that his output around the time wasn’t exactly his best. 2014’s folky Upside Down Mountain was pleasant but undistinguished, while 2016’s entirely solo Ruminations lacked the energy and conviction of his best recordings with Bright Eyes. What a difference a little collaboration can make. In an unusual move this spring, Oberst released an album of vibrant, full-band versions of Ruminations’ songs called Salutations, which offers a reminder of what a sharp musician he can be when he’s on his game. Hopefully a little bit of that spirit carries through at this show, where he’ll perform with a full band.
Tribute to Eddie Taylor w/ Eddie Taylor Jr., Jim Liban, Joel Paterson & The Jim Liban All-Stars @ American Serb Hall, 7 p.m.
What better way to celebrate the late great Eddie Taylor than with a night of blues led by his son? Blues Hall of Fame member Eddie Taylor was a prominent architect of Chicago blues in the ’50s and ’60s, the guitar powerhouse behind artists like Jimmy Reed (who learned how to play guitar from Taylor when they were children), John Lee Hooker and Big Walter Horton among other contemporaries in the scene. He was also a talented singer, releasing a handful of solo albums, including 1972’s I Feel So Bad and 1980’s My Heart Is Bleeding. His legacy lives on through his children, all musicians, including Eddie Taylor Jr., who like his father, specializes in Chicago blues.
Shiner w/ Conan Neutron & The Secret Friends @ Shank Hall, 8 p.m.
Shiner may be the only band that can claim to have shared a stage with groups like Sunny Day Real Estate and The Jesus Lizard before they even released their first studio single. The post-hardcore band got their start in Kansas City, Mo., in 1992, finding quick success and broad exposure with their first album, 1996’s Splay, and releasing three more LPs before splitting up in 2003. They’ve since reformed, playing short runs of reunion dates for fans who never got to see them the first time around or had yet to discover them in the first place.
Saturday, Sept. 9
the Green Sustainability Festival @ Reed Street Yards, 2 p.m.
Promising a more environmentally friendly kind of music festival, Rock the Green returns for another year of music, community and (hopefully) sun. The stacked music lineup will feature national acts Ben Harper & The Innocent Criminals, Barns Courtney, Mondo Cozmo, Baoi, as well as locals Reyna, Girls Rock MKE, Evan Christian and more. The festival’s green components will include locally sourced, organic food, complimentary refillable water cans, various forms of alternative energy and waste reclamation stations, all of which contribute to the event’s near-zero waste mission.
Wednesday, Sept. 13
Jay Som w/ Stef Chura and Soccer Mommy @ The Back Room at Colectivo, 8 p.m.
You’d be hard pressed to find a much more likable 2017 indie-rock album than Everybody Works, the sophomore full-length from songwriter Melina Duterte’s band Jay Som. A mix of plaintive pop, fizzy guitar rock and smooth Carly Rae Jepsen-style R&B tunes, the record puts the focus on Duterte’s genial personality and free-flowing hooks—it’s the kind of record you want to play twice in a row. Following her memorable show at the Cactus Club in March, her band returns for this show at the Back Room, with a pair of similarly personable indie acts opening: Stef Chura, a Detroit songwriter with a striking voice, and Soccer Mommy, a songwriter who has released a string of achy bedroom recordings on Bandcamp.
ZZ Top @ The Riverside Theater, 8 p.m.
In a career stretching more than 40 years, the bearded blues-rock trio ZZ Top have made serious noise. Hailing from Houston, Texas, the group formed from the cores of rival bands The Moving Sidewalks and American Blues in 1970, putting out two albums before gaining national attention with their third, 1973’s Tres Hombres. After a steady output of music in the years following, 2004 saw their induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Even as they’ve updated their sonic approach from album to album, they’ve continued to stay true to the deep blues roots and innuendo-based lyrical humor that made them so distinct.
Tony MacAlpine w/ Felix Martin and SACRED @ Cactus Club, 8 p.m.
Here’s a bill for guitar lovers. Tony MacAlpine has built a mystique in guitar circles for his shredding solo albums and his work in rock bands like Planet X, Ring of Fire and PSMS. Venezuelan guitarist Felix Martin, meanwhile, mixes progressive rock and Latin music, while playing 14- and 16-string guitars that he built himself. Opening the bill is the searing Milwaukee hard-rock band SACRED, featuring members of Everybody, Chandelier, Tweed Funk and The Prince Experience.