Since 2013, Milwaukee musician Andrew Shelp has given the city a loud, fuzzed-out, and reverb-drenched gift every spring: Milwaukee Psych Fest. The multi-day shindig has become a welcome staple on the city’s concert calendar, one featuring psychedelic, drone, and shoegaze-leaning bands from Milwaukee, the United States, and the world. This year, from May 6-8, Psych Fest will once again pack the Cactus Club (both inside and out) for its fourth annual blowout. New this year is the aforementioned outdoor stage, which will be located in the driveway/load-in alley on the club’s north side. A full festival pass is $40, and includes a limited edition CD comp of this year’s lineup.

But let’s talk about those psychedelic, drone, and shoegaze-leaning bands, because there are only so many times the words “psychedelic,” “drone,” and “shoegaze-leaning” can be used to describe bands in the psychedelic genre. To get around this problem, we reached out to Shelp and asked him to give us four descriptive words for each of the 24 bands playing this year’s Milwaukee Psych Fest. And while even Shelp couldn’t completely avoid terms like “reverb-drenched” and, well, “psychedelic,” we think his expertise should give show-goers a better, more verbose idea of what to expect this weekend.

Friday, May 6 (10 p.m.; $10)

Plastic Crimewave Syndicate — heady heavy space punks
Moss Folk — experimental krautrock drone raga
Vocokesh — legendary space rock experimenters

Saturday, May 7 (outdoor stage) (1 p.m.; $10, or $20 for all-day Saturday pass)

Lake Of Fire — summer of love lovers
Chives — indy spazzy noise punks
Slow Walker — local grungey hard rocking
Young Revelators — hazey blues rock riffs
Black Thumb — reverb drenched acid pop
The 45’s (members of Chief) — ambient rock explorative meanderings

Saturday, May 7 (indoor stage) (6 p.m.; $15, or $20 for all-day Saturday pass)

Ryley Walker — virtuostic guitar psych folk
Klaus Johann Grobe — Swiss dance floor hypnotists
Sugar Candy Mountain — blissful west coast pyschsters
Murals — SO STOKED FOR THEM
Levitation Room — psychedelic garage rock rippers
Painted Caves — Arabic surf fuzz popsters
Calliope — organ heavy reverb rockers

Sunday, May 8 (3 p.m.; $10)

Nest Egg — AMAZING krautrock from Asheville
Flavor Crystals — high decibel transcedental shoegaze
F/I — experimental noise rock pioneers
Cult Of Lip — upbeat fun killer punk-gaze
Tapebenders — incredible under appreciated songwriters
Idpyramid — kosmische synth heavy bliss
Piles — local fuzzy heavy hitters
Blue Unit — beautiful dreamy Cure worshippers

About The Author

Matt Wild
Co-Founder and Editor

In his spare time, Matt Wild enjoys collecting 8-bit Nintendo games (emulation is for creeps) and fondly remembering the time Milwaukee weatherman Vince Condella caused a stir at his Catholic grade school by showing up with an earring. He lives on Milwaukee's East Side.