Where has the summer gone? It seems like the season only started yesterday, when in all actuality, it started 11 days ago. Okay, okay, so there’s still a shit-ton of summer left, but with the abundance of festivals, roving beer gardens, and endless arena funding speculation on the horizon, 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. Not to mention junk happening outside, if you’re into that type of thing. July can be tough to navigate, but hopefully these 15 standout shows can help clear up any overlapping items on your social calendar.
Wednesday, July 8
Slayer + King Diamond, and more at The Rave
If you know who Slayer and King Diamond are, you either already have your tickets in hand or you’ve arranged plans to ensure you’re nowhere near The Rave on July 8. There’s nothing we can say to change your mind, and we wouldn’t dream of doing so. Enjoy whichever version you picked.
Saturday, July 11
Matthew Sweet + The Orange Peels at Shank Hall
Call Matthew Sweet a one-hit wonder if you want, but most musicians would kill for a hit like Sweet’s “Girlfriend,” from his 1991 album of the same name. Not that the ’60s-indebted psych-rock earworm is the be-all end-all of Sweet’s career. Plenty of solid albums litter his discography (1995’s 100% Fun and 1997’s Blue Sky On Mars in particular), and recent collaborations with Susanna Hoffs have produced enjoyable covers albums of music from the ’60s, ’70s, and ’80s. Sweet is currently prepping a new album that received over $55,000 in funding via Kickstarter.
Sunday, July 12
Soul Low + Jamaican Queens, Rio Turbo, and Dream Attics at Mad Planet
With all due respect to the unofficial Milwaukee band of summer of 2015, Soul Low, Rio Turbo and Dream Attics, the major reason we’re going to this show is Jamaican Queens. The Detroit-based synth-infused folk band (think if The Fatty Acids took Quaaludes and found a battered acoustic guitar) stole the show during another Soul Low-involved Milwaukee bill at Linneman’s back in January. Last month, the Queens released Downers, an altogether great 10-song record wrought with ultra-catchy, electro-pop tracks just dripping with morbidity. Add in Soul Bros, the must-see spectacle that is Rio Turbo, and an all-too-rare Dream Attics live outing, and you have yourself a can’t miss show.
Thursday, July 16
Lady Lamb + Soul Low at Turner Hall
Lady Lamb. God damn, man! While Maine isn’t exactly an indie sensation hotbed, Aly Spaltro managed to bust out of Brunswick, ME on the weight of her stalwart songwriting and formidable pipes. After berthing seven self-released bedroom records between 2007 and 2013, the project formerly called Lady Lamb The Beekeeper shortened her name and widened her reach with After, which is her brilliant, hook-laden, rocker of a 12-song introduction to the outer world. Should bragging rights associated with seeing Ms. Spaltro a couple years before her eventual Pabst Theater sellout aren’t enough, local favorite Soul Low is opening. You’re going to pay $7 to see Soul Low elsewhere anyway. Pony up the extra $3 for this one. You won’t regret it.
Klassik (LP release) at Miramar Theatre
What more can we say about Klassik? Since late last year, Kellen Abston has plied his ambition, versatility, and genius into four EPs that encompass the mood, feel, and sound of each season. He even made a fan of New England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski along the way. As autumn approaches, Klassik has exhausted his epic four-season undertaking and will formally pull the trigger on his Seasons LP, a complete encapsulation of his year’s work. The eternal performer has countless good years ahead of him, but this Thursday night affair is the touchstone of his biggest one to date.
Sunday, July 19
Tweens + Tenement, Platinum Boys, and Mercy Brown at Riverwest Public House
One word: Tenement. Wait, wait…four words: Tenement and Platinum Boys. The former’s month-old double LP Predatory Headlights has instantly vaulted the Appleton-Milwaukee pop-punk trio to national notoriety, including kind words from New York Times, Washington Post, and confusing (maaaaybe good?) praise from Pitchfork. Mercy Brown is probably a Murphy Brown pun, which is pretty cool, too.
Tuesday, July 21
Open Mike Eagle + Milo, and WebsterX
Veteran purveyor of alternative hip-hop, Open Mike Eagle got his start in Chicago and struck up collaborations with Busdriver, Nocando, Serengeti, and Hannibal Buress. Buress went on to become one of the funniest living humans. Serengeti collaborated on some hilarious film projects with Milwaukee’s own WC Tank, and the others eventually became labelmates with Open Mike on Hellfyre Records. For a time, Milwaukee-sired emcee Milo also released music under the Hellfyre umbrella. Both now-fyre-free rappers will convene at the Cactus Club as Eagle comes to town in belated support of his great 2014 record Dark Comedy. WebsterX will put the cherry atop this outstanding mid-week affair.
Friday, July 24
Todd Barry + Tyler Menz at Turner Hall
With more than 30 years of stage time beneath his belt and an often-imitated, never replicated wry and soft-spoken comedic style, Todd Barry is on the cusp of comedy legend status. Though he’s performed in Wisconsin a few times recently, Milwaukee is relatively foreign market for the veteran New York funnyman. Following a long gap of Milwaukeelessness, Barry came to Turner Hall in January 2013 as part of his crowdwork tour, where he basically just made fun of a bartender from Oscar’s for an hour. Barry will return to Turner Hall and will (hopefully) bring actual material with him. Local funnyman Tyler Menz will open.
Rhythm Lab Radio 10-Year Micro Fest at 88Nine Radio Milwaukee Studios
For the past 10 years, DJ Tarik Moody has hosted the eclectic Rhythm Lab Radio program, first on Twin Cities station The Current and these days on 88Nine Radio Milwaukee. To celebrate those 10 years, Moody has put together a “Micro-Fest” at the 88Nine studios, featuring performances from Peanut Butter Wolf, Natalie Prass, and Taylor McFerrin along with lauded local like Klassik, Tim Ricketts, Dream Attics, TRUE Skool Band, and between-set DJing by Kiings.
Saturday, July 25
Canopies on Milwaukee Boat Line’s Concert Cruise
If you read Milwaukee Record enough, you’re bound to happen upon a post or two unabashedly championing Milwaukee’s premier synth-pop project, Canopies. Released late last year, the group’s long-awaited Maximize Your Faith was an ambitious effort that was nothing short arena-ready. Though they’ve yet to book that arena run, they’ve found a home in conventional clubs, on the local festival circuit, and outside in the butthole of winter. But how does it sounds on the choppy water of Lake Michigan? You can find out this month when the band takes to the great lake to play its space-aged material under the cover of stars unimpeded by city lights. Add in some $3 house margaritas and you’re good to go.
Sunday, July 26
A.A. Bondy + Mark Waldoch at Cactus Club
A.A. Bondy’s music touches on just about as many styles as his name has permutations. The Alabama native went by “Scott Bondy” during his tenure as frontman for rock group Verbana; these days, he’s known by the initials of his given name, Auguste Arthur. His music rides a fine line between textured, ethereal folk (think Bon Iver) and country-tinged, singer-songwriter confessionals (think Bonnie “Prince” Billy). Bondy hasn’t released a new album since 2011’s Believers, but the hard-touring troubadour should give Milwaukee plenty to chew on at this intimate show.
Cool And Tight Comedy Showcase at Cocoon Room
Sammy Arechar is nothing short of a local treasure. The 22-year-old comic (and misguided Taco Bell adventure co-pilot) is a regular in out-of-state festivals and a go-to opener for touring talent swinging by Madison, Milwaukee, and Chicago. Before his late summer move—arguably the largest hit of Milwaukee’s ongoing mass comedic exodus—and his inevitable rise to continental comedic consciousness, the city’s stand-up wunderkind decided to start Cool And Tight, a new all-ages comedy showcase at Cocoon Room. With the founder on his way out of town, we’re not sure how long this Cocoon Room happening will loom, but this one is going to be fucking cool and at least fairly tight. Joining Arechar are hilarious locals Liz Ziner, Gary Zajackowski, Ryan Mason, Adam Loeding, and Marisa Lange, among others. And, yes, the FREE show is BYOB and BYOP (bring you own pizza). Like you even needed to ask.
Monday, July 27
METZ + Big Ups, and Dilly Dally at Cactus Club
In the thick of a musical epoch that routinely finds artists piling influence from a scattershot of different genres and periods to help shape their sound, sometimes it’s refreshing when a band cuts through the bullshit, digs in its heels, and releases a balls-out rock and roll record. METZ is one of those bands. The Toronto-based trio announced its arrival with a blood-curdling scream via its 2012 self-titled album. Last week, METZ berthed its follow-up, II, an incessant barrage of incomparably harsh, sense-dulling noise and distortion that’s as punishing as it is utterly enjoyable. If you have the foresight to pick up tickets and risk not being able to hear what anyone is saying at work on Tuesday…or Wednesday and part of Thursday, this Monday night musical melee could very well be a show chiseled on the figurative tablet of incredible Cactus Club bookings alongside Queens Of The Stone Age, The White Stripes, and Interpol.
Tuesday, July 28
Midwest Death Rattle + Space Raft, and Antler House at Chill On The Hill (Humboldt Park)
Chill On The Hill is a Milwaukee standard. Even when the entertainment isn’t cutting edge (say, a Legion Hall band or something), few things can beat sitting with friends in lawn chairs and watching live music in a park with house-brought beverages and charcuterie at the ready. Every season of Chill, though, includes one truly outstanding lineup that makes this always-enjoyable Bay View amenity a truly awesome experience. This is that show. Midwest Death Rattle is truly one of the city’s most underrated outfits. Space Raft is effectively and justifiably appreciated, and Antler House’s sound is equal parts crushing and gorgeous. Buy a sixer of your favorite beer, a block of cheese and some crackers to take in this stacked-ass lineup.
Wednesday, July 29
Death From Above 1979 + GGOOLLDD at Turner Hall
In the dog days of summer, purveyors of danceable noise rock Death From Above 1979 will pulverize Turner Hall with a ceaseless wave of drums and distorted bass Wednesday, July 29. It will be the Canadian duo’s first show in Milwaukee since they played Mad Planet in early 2005, just months before their 2004 debut full-length You’re A Woman, I’m A Machine propelled the unconventional act to international acclaim. DFA 1979 comes to town following a five-year hiatus and the release of its return record, last year’s The Physical World, which is something of a grower, but still very good. You won’t want to miss this. Given Death From Above’s track record, this might be your only chance to see them in Milwaukee within the next decade, if ever. GGOOLLDD will open, ensuring this might be the weirdest, if not the best, show in town this month.