In Milwaukee, the end of summer is a bittersweet thing. The weather cools, the festivals shut down, and the Brewers start to blow it. But the end of the season also marks the beginning of the city’s typically strong fall concert schedule. September 2014 is no different, with dozens of top-shelf shows, big-ticket events, and the occasional lucha libre wrestling blowout. (Be sure to peruse Milwaukee Record’s handy events calendar for even more fun this month.)

Friday, September 5
Sylvan Esso at Pabst Theater (with DJ set at Cactus Club)
Durham-by-way-of-Milwaukee electro-pop duo Sylvan Esso have been having what music industry insiders call “a really, really, really big year.” Amelia Meath and former Milwaukeean Nick Sanborn struck critical gold with their debut record, leading to high-profile gigs and a recent performance on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon. Tonight’s show was originally scheduled for the Cactus Club, though a drastic surge in national popularity called for a drastically bigger venue. But those fans pining for more intimate confines need not worry: Sylvan Esso will stop by the Cactus for a DJ set following their Pabst show.

Friday, September 5
Mondo Lucha at Turner Hall
Since 2008, Mondo Lucha has whipped Milwaukee’s wrestling nerds (and closet wrestling nerds) into the turnbuckles with over-the-top, high-flying, masked lucha libre wrestling spectacles. Mondo Lucha 2014 will include everything fans have come to know and love: top-shelf athleticism, live music (this year from Body Futures), burlesque dancers, folding chairs, and that one wrestler in a goat mask. If you’re the kind of person who pines for the days when the WWE was the WWF, look no further for your masked, retro wrestling kick (to the face).

Saturday, September 6
WMSE’s 5th Annual Backyard BBQ at Cathedral Square
Milwaukee is lucky enough to have two independent radio stations to its name, WMSE and 88Nine, with both dedicated to in-studio performances and other live events. One of the best of those live events is WMSE’s annual Backyard BBQ, which brings food, beer, and music to the suddenly Jazz In The Park-less Cathedral Square. This year features music from Los Straitjackets, Split Lip Rayfield, Indigenous, and The Mike Benign Compulsion.

Saturday, September 6
The Midwest Beat at Riverwest Public House
Marking the release of the band’s Free Of Being, Midwest Beat will play the first Milwaukee release gig of its multi-release-related outings at the Public House. Beyond the timeless, all-around wonderful alt-country output the honoree will be producing, pop punkers Tenement, Head On Electric, and Get Drunk DJs will be along for the show. You’ll be living the high life, should you be wise enough to attend.

Tuesday, September 9
The Black Keys at BMO Harris Bradley Center
Love ’em or hate ’em, The Black Keys are arguably one of the biggest acts going these days, and a rare rock presence in a pop-saturated music world. It’s easy to get caught up in the snippy controversy that constantly seems to dog the two-man band (paging Jack White), but the Keys’ music remains big, bold, and stadium-ready. Kentucky’s Cage The Elephant opens the show.

Friday, September 12
Hotdog And Hamburgers Comedy Tour Fundraiser at Riverwest Public House
Comedian Steve Breese is booking great shows all around town, and Sammy Arechar could be the funniest person in Milwaukee not named Bob Uecker. Together, they’re going to take the show on the road with their Hotdog And Hamburgers comedy tour, in which they (along with Mr. JJ and Nick Hart) will perform 11 shows (after barbequing outside the venues) in five states between October 16 and 26. However, they aren’t getting to Denver and back without some money for gas, tolls, and condiments. As a means of raising some funds for the unorthodox tour, Breese, Arechar, and guest Greg Bach will perform a free show at Riverwest Public House, complete with pre-show grilling. Donations are appreciated for both the show and the food. If you can’t make it, you can donate to their IndieGoGo campaign.

Saturday, September 13
Bay View Bash
Bay View Bash is a bittersweet affair. The bitterness is brought by the stinging realization that festival season is over and yet another awful winter is on the way. We’re all going to die and there’s nothing anybody can do about it, OHMYGOD! The sweetness comes with the fun festival finale that’s taken root in the heart of Kinnickinnic Avenue. By this point in the summer, you’ve likely seen many of the acts taking the three stages (highlights include Zero Boys, We Are Hex, Drunk Drivers, Platinum Boys, Midnight Reruns, Tigernite, Like Like The The The Death, and Heavy Hand). But have you seen them while eating an elephant ear?

Saturday, September 13
Global Union at Humboldt Park
For the past nine years, Alverno Presents’ Global Union festival has set up shop in Bay View’s Humboldt Park and thrown Milwaukee a diverse and dance-happy (and free!) goodbye party to summer. Far from Enya and those “Jazz Loon” CDs they used to sell at Natural Wonders in the mall, the annual world music fest is vital, crowd-pleasing, and bursting with life. Sierra Leone’s Refugee All Stars, Calypso Rose with Kobo Town, Abigail Washburn’s Wu-Force, and Argentine’s La Yegros are scheduled to perform at this year’s installment. Wu-Force, in particular, with a sound somewhere between Bjork and The Flaming Lips, should be terrific.

Wednesday, September 17
Spoon at Riverside Theater
Ever since 1996, Austin-based band Spoon has released a new album of smart, angular indie rock nearly every other year, each one seemingly better than the last. (The 2005-10 run of Gimme FictionGa Ga Ga Ga Ga, and Transference was especially impressive.) But the group took some time off following Transference, with frontman Britt Daniel releasing an album with Divine Fits, and other members pursuing their own interests. Happily, the longest break in Spoon’s 20-year career came to an end this August with the release of its eighth studio album, They Want My Soul. With instant classics like “Rent I Pay” and “Do You,” the band still retains the airtight rhythms and fuzzed-out edges it’s long been known for.

Wednesday, September 17
Bob Mould at Pabst Theater
Over the course of 30-plus years, Bob Mould has become a triple threat. His work with Hüsker Dü defined the hardcore movement of the ’80s; his pop-minded Sugar provided an alternate soundtrack to the ’90s; and his ongoing solo work has painted a picture of an artist unafraid to embrace his past one minute, and throw it away the next. That last stage has been especially relevant in recent years, as Mould has experienced something of resurgence in his solo career. In fact, while touring behind the 20th anniversary of Sugar’s Copper Blue in 2012, Mould’s then-new songs from his solo album Silver Age were nearly as jaw-dropping as his old material. The new Beauty & Ruin continues his impressive solo streak, with a blistering, guitar-heavy, Sugar-like album of loss, pain, acceptance, and triumph. In other words, classic Bob Mould.

Thursday, September 18
Iron & Wine at Pabst Theater
Believe it or not, Iron & Wine’s biggest release, Our Endless Numbered Days, turned 10 this year. Regardless of the milestone to Sam Beam’s true coming out party, the singer-songwriter proves his days as a relevant, skilled musician are far from numbered. Beam and band will make a second pass around the country in support of last year’s gorgeous full-length Ghost On Ghost. Jesca Hoop will open.

Saturday, September 20
Canopies at Mad Planet
We don’t hear from the Canopies camp too often, but when the reclusive and calculated Milwaukee synth-pop project breaks its silence, it’s always worth listening to. Canopies’ self-titled debut required just five songs to take the town by surprise in 2011. Three years later, the outfit managed just two new songs on a lathe-cut record limited to just 25 copies. The show schedule, too, has slowed significantly. Until now, that is. The latest installment in Honeycomb Productions’ bi-monthly “Honeycomb Presents” series—which Milwaukee Record sponsors—will feature opening support from GGOOLLDD and the sexualized party-pop persona that is Rio Turbo. Wax Addicts will DJ before the show and between sets.

Sunday, September 21
The War On Drugs at Pabst Theater
Philadelphia band The War On Drugs has been a critical darling since 2011, when its Slave Ambient album landed on oodles of year-end best-of lists. This year’s terrific Lost In The Dream is receiving even more accolades. Beautifully hazy and downtempo, the record reflects frontman Adam Granduciel’s recent bout with depression, but injects just enough life and vitality throughout to make things ultimately hopeful. Plus, some of the songs kind of sound like Don Henley’s “Boys Of Summer.” Upping the ante will be an opening set from Chicago’s Califone, who are riding high on last year’s excellent Stitches.

Thursday, September 25
6th Annual Milwaukee Film Festival
Is there anything better than the annual Milwaukee Film Festival? No. Like past fests, the sixth annual installment—which runs September 25 through October 9—is sure to be a highlight of the year, with oodles of incredible films, tons of great events, and more live music than you can shake a clapboard at. Need proof? Check out the musical docs and performances, the Milwaukee-centric Cream City Cinema lineup, and the Milwaukee Record-sponsored Cinema Hooligante program.

Thursday, September 25
Freeman at Turner Hall
Following an infamous meltdown during a 2012 show in Vancouver, Aaron Freeman’s future looked bleak. Freeman—a.k.a. Gene Ween of the beloved cult act Ween—had seemingly finally let drugs and alcohol get the best of him, and the longtime addict soon announced the dissolution of his longtime band. But Freeman got sober in the wake of Ween’s breakup, and released a low-key album of Rod McKuen covers that seemed to point to better days ahead. Now, with a self-titled record of original songs from his new band—the appropriately named FREEMAN—on Partisan Records, Freeman is taking to the road clean, sober, and reenergized

Thursday, September 25
Tim And Eric & Dr. Steve Brule at Pabst Theater
There are certain shows that need some setup, some background information for fans re-familiarizing themselves with an artist’s body of work, or some context for non-fans who may not know what they’re missing. Then there are shows that need no introduction. Tim & Eric and Dr. Steve Brule is one of those show. If you’re a rabid fan of Tim Heidecker and Eric Wareheim and their oft-imitated-but-never-duplicated strain of anti-comedy, then you’ll be at this show. (Hell, you might be waiting in line already.) If not, you’ll be at home, eating prizza. So yeah, Heidecker, Warheim, and Brule—a.k.a. John C. Reilly, who visited Milwaukee last summer when his bluegrass band played the Miller Caves—are bringing their show to the Pabst. It’ll be willfully weird. It’ll be wonderfully unpredictable. It’ll be as sweet as SWEETBERRYWINE. Be there, dingus.

Friday, September 26
Lorde at BMO Harris Pavilion
You know you’ve arrived when, at 17, you’re telling the world press that you “don’t want to be a role model.” That’s just where New Zealand pop sensation Lorde has found herself in 2014, less than two years after posting her music to Soundcloud as a free download. Now a bona fide superstar thanks to last year’s Pure Heroine and the unstoppable singles “Royals” and “Team,” Lorde may be subject to the disposable glare and gossip of the media, but her hypnotic and cooly detached music signals that the 17-year-old is here to stay. Canadian indie duo Majical Cloudz open the show.

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