Where has the summer gone? Okay, okay, so there’s still a ton of summer left, but the bleakness of autumn will be upon us before you know it. Thus, it’s important to use your limited summer entertainment allotment right. Not even counting the waning days of Summerfest, there are a ton of concerts, comedy shows, and utterly meaningless Brewers games vying for your time. And we’re not even factoring in outdoor activities, if you’re into that type of thing. July can be tough to navigate, but hopefully these standout shows can help clear up any overlapping items on your social calendar.
Tuesday, July 10
The Pretenders @ Riverside Theater
The Pretenders loom large in Milwaukee’s legacy, having “discovered” the city’s own Violent Femmes way back in 1981. The Femmes were playing outside the Oriental Theatre, and The Pretenders (who were playing inside the Oriental Theatre) were instantly smitten. Thanks, Pretenders! Who knows who the band will discover this time around, in a show that, due to overwhelming demand, was quickly moved from the Pabst to the Riverside.
Friday, July 13
David Cross @ Pabst Theater
“I am beyond aroused to get back out on the road and bring my very special, artisanal small batch hand crafted, 100% organic jokes & jibberings to a venue near you,” David Cross says in a press release for his new “Oh Come On” tour. “These jokes are kid tested and mother approved so bring the whole family!” Heed his advice or not, it’s always a treat to see the Mr. Show/Arrested Development star joking and jibbering in person.
Soup Moat (album release) + Sex Scenes, Doubletruck, and Tight Fright @ Cactus Club
Soup Moat describes its sound as “heavy, silly sludge.” Over the course of seven years, a pair of full-length albums, and a handful of EPs and demos (not to mention a host of lineup changes), the band has lived up to that description, dishing out big riffs and throat-rending screams with a side of levity. Look no further than the shout-along “Uptowner Girl” and “Band Practice” from 2015’s Enjoy Your Hobbies (and their respective videos) for a look inside the twisted, Milwaukee-addled brains of Soup Moat.
But wait, there’s more! On July 13, the seminal sludge band will celebrate the release its third full-length, Harvester Of Likes, on Milwaukee’s Gloss Records. Recorded in Meat Locker Studios over a two-year period with label owner Harrison Colby (NO/NO, Sex Scenes), the record promises to be Soup Moat’s “most brutal, cohesive, and melodically sound effort to date.” Sex Scenes, Doubletruck, and Tight Fright will play in support.
Mondo Lucha! featuring Devils Teeth and Rio Turbo @ Nomad Nacional
Nomad Nacional—which opened this spring in the former site of La Fuente in Walker’s Point—is going all out for its first World Cup with a special alfresco menu, the Nomad Summer Ale from Good City, a JumboTron showing matches, and an impressive lineup of musicians playing out in the “Fanzone.” The Fanzone will take root in Nacional’s parking lot (625 S. 5th St.) and will bring bands, rappers, DJs, a drag show to the space between June 14 and July 15. The Fanzone’s waning days brings its most exciting event, with the Mondo Lucha! wrestling variety show. Need more? Okay! Devils Teeth and Rio Turbo are playing as well.
Saturday, July 14
We Hate Movies Podcast @ The Back Room at Colectivo
Since launching in 2010, New York-based “We Hate Movies” podcast has become a trusted source of entertainment for bad movie aficionados. Now a weekly fixture in many listeners’ earbuds, hosts/comedians Andrew Jupin, Stephen Sajdak, Eric Szyszka, and Chris Cabin are bringing the show on the road this summer, including a stop at Colectivo’s Back Room space for an event B movie buffs won’t want to miss.
Ice Cube @ The Rave
N.W.A. was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 2016, which feels approximately 8,000 years removed from when the group released their caustic debut album Straight Outta Compton. Ice Cube circa 2018, meanwhile, feels approximately 8,000 years removed from when he released his caustic solo album The Predator. But whatever: Ice Cube still rules, The Predator still rules, Friday still rules, and, um, Ride Along.
Tuesday, July 17
The Handsome Family + Chris Crofton @ Shank Hall
Known best for the moody theme song for the first season of True Detective, The Handsome Family have a lot more to offer than just peak-TV nostalgia. Husband-and-wife duo Brett and Rennie Sparks have been penning dusty, gothic murder ballads since the early ’90 (the True Detective track, “Far From Any Road,” was released 11 years before the show first aired). Live, the Sparks’ are just as off-kilter and tongue-in-cheek as their music; a 2016 show at Shank Hall was highlighted by Brett grousing about the sound and “threatening” to walk out.
Wednesday, July 18
Milwaukee Record presents Better Off Dead @ Avalon Theater (two showings!)
Directed by Savage Steve Holland and starring a fresh-faced John Cusack, Better Off Dead follows the wacky suicidal misadventures of Lane Meyer (Cusack) as he struggles with his ex-girlfriend Beth (Amanda Wyss), his snow-snorting best friend Charles de Mar (Curtis Armstrong), his bizarro parents (David Ogden Stiers, Kim Darby), a prototypical ’80s jock/bad guy (Aaron Dozier), and a homicidal paper boy (Demian Slade). Oh, and those drag racers who talk like Howard Cosell. And the guy who runs Pig Burger. Oh well, at least there’s French foreign exchange student Monique (Diane Franklin), who can totally fix Lane’s ’67 Camaro but has a phobia of, eh, how you say? Octopus? Testicles?
Can Lane beat Roy Stalin in the big ski race down the K-12? Can he make it through one shift at Pig Burger without imagining an elaborate burgers-and-fries claymation video of Van Halen’s “Everybody Wants Some!!”? Did John Cusack really hate this movie when it came out? (Probably, but he’s warmed to it in recent years.) Can Charles find real drugs? Find out Wednesday, July 18, at Avalon Theater. Just walk, drive, or bus down Kinnickinnic Avenue, really fast. If something gets in your way, turn. Tickets to our 7 p.m. screening sold out within days of being announced, but you can still get tickets to the 9:30 p.m. showing while they last.
Saturday, July 21 and Sunday, July 22
Sylvan Esso + Collections Of Colonies Of Bees @ Pabst Theater
Can Milwaukee claim Sylvan Esso? Yes, Sylvan Esso is from Durham, North Carolina, and does not call Milwaukee home. But! Nick Sanborn—a.k.a. one half of the electro-pop superstar duo—is a former Milwaukeean and a former member of beloved Milwaukee band Decibully. What’s more, Sanborn and his future Sylvan Esso collaborator Amelia Meath met at a Cactus Club show in 2010. Neat! So how much does Milwaukee love Sylvan Esso (and 2017’s excellent What Now)? Both of the group’s Pabst Theater shows are long sold-out.
Sunday, July 22
The War On Drugs + James Elkington @ Riverside Theater
Philadelphia band The War On Drugs has been a critical favorite since 2011 when its Slave Ambient album landed on oodles of year-end best-of lists. It’s been uphill from there: Last year’s terrific A Deeper Understanding took home a Grammy for Best Rock Album and won widespread acclaim from critics and listeners alike. Like its immediate predecessors (2014’s excellent Lost In The Dream among them), the record is gorgeously hazy and agreeably mature, and some of the songs still kind of sound like Don Henley’s “Boys Of Summer.”
Monday, July 23
Vans Warped Tour @ Marcus Amphitheater
Milwaukee has been a part of most Warped Tour schedules in the traveling (primarily) pop-punk and ska festival’s 20-year run. Sadly, according to founder Kevin Lyman, 2018 “will be the final, full cross-country run of the Vans Warped Tour.” Though heavy-hitters like Bowling For Soup, Frank Turner, Sum 41, Taking Back Sunday, Underoath, All Time Low, and The Used are all skipping the final Milwaukee stop, there are still some notables coming to town. Disgruntled teens and 30-somethings trying to relive their days as disgruntled teens can still see Reel Big Fish, Less Than Jake, Simple Plan, and Twiztid.
Monday, July 30
Milwaukee Record‘s 4th annual Roast Of Milwaukee @ Club Garibaldi
To help informally kick off the Milwaukee Comedy Festival, we’ve asked local comedians, improvisers, and media personalities to gently (or, in some cases, straight-up viciously) rib the city they love in our Roast Of Milwaukee. Best yet, a portion of proceeds will benefit Milwaukee Women’s Center. We’ll post the lineup in a matter of days, and it’s gooooooooood.
The National + Lucy Dacus @ Riverside Theater
Hopefully you snagged tickets to this show because it’s already sold out.