Though it feels like summer just started, we’ve now entered the last full month of the season. Summer isn’t going out with a whimper, though. Quite the opposite. After more than a year without any significant live and in-person entertainment, concerts, comedy shows, and festivals are officially back in full force this month. Since this looks to be an active August of entertainment, Milwaukee Record has found 15 especially worthwhile things you should do this month. Check our Calendar section for more recommended events.
Thursday, August 5 — Sunday, August 15
Wisconsin State Fair @ Wisconsin State Fair Park
Come hell or high water, the Wisconsin State Fair is determined to deliver all the fun, food, and edge-of-your-seat pig racing that you know and love, and that you missed in 2020. As for musical entertainment, the Main Stage headliner feels as comfortable and familiar as an old pair of pre-pandemic jeans: Billy Idol, Foreigner, Boyz II Men, The Beach Boys, and more. Click HERE for the whole thing. Oh, and click HERE for the local-tastic lineup for the Lakefront Brewery/WMSE stage.
Thursday, August 5 — Saturday, August 7
Eddie Pepitone @ The Laughing Tap
Grizzled and grumpy stand-up comic/actor/documentary subject Eddie Pepitone makes his Milwaukee return with three nights (and four total performances) at The Laughing Tap. Joining the “Bitter Buddha” during this weekend in Walker’s Point is feature comic JT Habersaat. Don’t miss this opportunity to see a low-key comedy legend in a cozy club setting.
Friday, August 6
Ratboys + Telethon @ Cactus Club
Even though Ratboys only managed a few shows in support of last year’s wonderful Printer’s Devil before touring halted, the Chicago indie-folk outfit saw the album earn oodles of positive press, and awareness of the hardworking band that’s been around since 2011 increased in the process. Happy Birthday, Ratboy—the excellent 10th anniversary surprise album the band released April 1, 2021—found Ratboys treating listeners to new versions of college-era demos and songs from their original EP. It’s safe to say Ratboys are bordering on breakout, so you won’t want to miss this 18+ outing with them and an opening set by the incomparable Milwaukee pop-punkers in Telethon.
Fox Face (record release) @ X-Ray Arcade
Milwaukee’s excellent Fox Face released their second full-length album, End Of Man, way back in January. Now, roughly seven months later, they’re finally celebrating with a live, real-deal record release show. End Of Man is a blistering assault of pissed-off, socially conscious rock and roll, complete with a classic cover (“There’ll Be Some Changes Made”) originally arranged and performed for our Public Domain video series.
Saturday, August 7
Devils Teeth @ Milwaukee Boat Line
Extraordinary times call for extraordinary measures. For Milwaukee garage-surf outfit Devils Teeth, our current extraordinary times call for—what else?—a self-recorded “spaghetti western garage rock operetta inspired by the character Chong Li from the martial arts film Bloodsport.” (You know, the one with Jean-Claude Van Damme.) Hear tracks from the excellent La Leggenda Di Chong Li when Devils Teeth take to the high seas for Milwaukee Boat Line’s annual Concert Cruise series.
Sunday, August 15
Lillie Mae @ Shank Hall
Nashville (by way of northern Illinois) singer, songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, and member of the Third Man Records roster Lillie Mae makes her Midwestern return on August 15 when she performs at Shank Hall a few days before making her way to the main stage at Blue Ox Music Festival in Eau Claire.
Friday, August 20 — Sunday, August 22
Steve Byrne @ Milwaukee Improv
In case you missed the news, metro Milwaukee has a new comedy club! Milwaukee Improv is located at The Corners of Brookfield in a 13,049-square-foot space in the shopping center’s lower level. The Brookfield-based venue is national Improv chain’s 25th location. The club will be christened by Steve Byrne. You can see the veteran comedian, actor, and former star of the TBS series Sullivan & Son at Milwaukee Improv for a total of five shows August 20-22.
Saturday, August 21
Modest Mouse @ Riverside Theater
Have you heard that new Modest Mouse song, “We Are Between”? From the group’s first new album in six years, The Golden Casket, due June 25? It’s pretty good! And there’s another new song called “Leave A Light On.” It’s pretty good, too! Anyway, it’s good to have Modest Mouse—and the band’s forever-fascinating frontman Issac Brock—back after such a long drought. This Milwaukee show is part of a full Modest Mouse U.S. tour that includes appearances at Lollapalooza in Chicago, the Life Is Beautiful Festival in Las Vegas, and the Austin City Limits Music Festival in, well, Austin.
Monday, August 23
The Mountain Goats @ Pabst Theater
This show was originally announced in 2019; since then, The Mountain Goats have released not one, not two, but three new albums. (How did you spend the pandemic?) Sure, one of those albums (2020’s Songs For Pierre Chuvin) was just frontman John Darnielle singing into a boombox, but still. Expect plenty of fan favorites and even more deep cuts plucked from Darnielle and company’s 17—er, make that 20—studio albums.
Wednesday, August 25
AEW Dynamite @ UW-Milwaukee Panther Arena
Originally scheduled to come to Milwaukee on April 1 of last year and frequently rescheduled ever since, All Elite Wrestling will finally bring its AEW Dynamite show to UW-Milwaukee Panther Arena on August 25. Don’t miss your long-awaited chance to see the likes of Cody and Brandi Rhodes, Chris Jericho, Jon Moxley, The Young Bucks, Kenny Omega, and Hangman Adam Page in the ring.
Friday, August 27 — Sunday, August 29
Mexican Fiesta @ Henry Maier Festival Park
After canceling last year’s installment on account of the COVID-19 crisis, Mexican Fiesta returns to Henry Maier Festival Park for three days of great music, delicious food, and celebration of Mexican culture on the lakefront. Don’t miss it!
Saturday, August 28
WMSE Backyard BBQ @ Humboldt Park
WMSE’s 11th annual late-summer shindig will set up shop at Humboldt Park on Saturday, August 28, from noon to 8 p.m. This year’s all-local music lineup is topped by the great Abby Jeanne, who will be performing her first show since February 2020. Abby and her band will be preceded by the likes of Vincent Van Great, Rexxx, Stephen Hull, and De La Buena.
Telethon (record release) + Kali Masi @ X-Ray Arcade
Milwaukee/Chicago pop-punk phenoms Telethon will celebrate the release of their new album, Swim Out Past The Breakers, at X-Ray Arcade. They’ll be joined by labelmates Kali Masi, whose album, [laughs], is on our short list of 2021’s best releases so far.
Monday, August 30
Bully + Pom Pom Squad @ The Back Room @ Colectivo
The return of shows is incredible. Something else that’s incredible: the return of sold-out shows. Yep, this Back Room Bully show is sold out, folks. Congrats if you already have tickets, and good luck if you don’t!