Our fat-free, dolphin-safe Milwaukee events calendar is chock-full of things to do, but only a handful of events are worthy of the lofty honor of “Record Recommended” (patent pending). Here are our recommendations for August 23-29, 2021.


The Mountain Goats + Laura Cortese & The Dance Cards @ The 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.


Chill On The Hill: No Seatbelts + The Midnight Purchase @ Humboldt Park
Since first hitting the scene in 2017, No Seatbelts—a project with direct ties to artists like Two Tones, ¡palabra!, and B~Free, among others—quickly developed a reputation for can’t-miss live shows, unconventional covers of songs like Nirvana’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit,” and a pleasing sound that effortlessly blends elements of R&B, funk, and jazz to forge a sound that’s altogether their own. Break out the lawn chairs and experience it all at tonight’s Chill On The Hill.


Washington Park Wednesdays: Negative Positive + Trinity Grace @ Washington Park Bandshell
What happens when a former pre-teen band grows up and its members get ready to go off to college? That band embarks on a Graduation Tour, of course. Such is the case for Negative/Positive, the forever-awesome Milwaukee band that formed at the first Girls Rock Milwaukee camp when its members were roughly 10 years old. After tonight’s show (the season finale for Washington Park Wednesdays, btw), Negative/Positive only have a September 18 Summerfest gig left on the books.

AEW Presents “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.


Rainbow Summer: KLASS & The Student Body Present “Back 2 Skool” @ Marcus Center Grounds
After taking last summer off from live, in-person events at its gorgeous Peck Pavilion, the Marcus Performing Arts Center is bringing concerts and family-friendly film screenings back in 2021. Moreover, they’re doing so by reviving the “Rainbow Summer” series, which the Marcus Center says is the city’s “original outdoor entertainment series.” Tonight’s can’t-miss installment features tireless Milwaukee musician Klassik and his “Student Body” band. The show will explore the “intersectionality of the many genres rooted in Black Music, using imaginative reinterpretations of works from across the Black Diaspora intermixed with original works by Klassik.”

Dora Diamond + The LOL, Valerie Lighthart ft. Drag/Burlesque Afterparty @ Cactus Club


Mexican Fiesta @ Henry Maier Festival Park (through August 29)
Mexican Fiesta has called Henry Maier Festival Park home almost as long as Summerfest has. Starting on the south side in 1973, the fiesta moved to the lakefront grounds in 1977. The longstanding event is rooted in pillars of community, education, Mexican heritage, and cultural advancement. Unlike Summerfest, which begins next week, Mexican Fiesta will not require proof of vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test for entry.

Sleepersound + CRLSS, West Nile Crows, Pescatarian At Best @ Quarters Rock ‘n’ Roll Palace
Sleepersound’s new record, Idle Voices, is the kind of hazy, atmospheric, and impeccably lovely record that’s perfect for the dog days of summer. Opener “Silence Otherwise” unfolds and evolves like a dream, the cinematic (and instrumental) title track plays like an indie-rock tribute to Blade Runner, and “The Nightingale” ends things on a haunting note.

The Wailers + Zion Iyahbinghi, Earthmother, DJ Robert G @ The Rave/Eagles Ballroom

Let The Wolves Speak + LUCA, Claim Defeat, Past Is Prologue @ X-Ray Arcade


WMSE Backyard BBQ @ Humboldt Park
What can you expect from WMSE’s 11th annual Backyard BBQ? Food, fun, and music, of course. And hey! This year’s all-local music lineup is topped by the great Abby Jeanne, who will be performing her first show since February 2020. Vincent Van Great, Rexxx, Stephen Hull, and De La Buena will also perform.

Milwaukee Polka Riot @ Great Lakes Distillery
After a criminally polka-less 2020, Milwaukee is once again primed for some sweet, sweet polka action. Yes, the one-of-a-kind Milwaukee Polka Riot (“America’s first and only alternative polka festival”) is scheduled to return Saturday, August 28. “Whether you like it or not, The Milwaukee Polka Riot is an annual festival showcasing a host of amazing, off-kilter bands you’re unlikely to see all in one place, anywhere else,” reads the fest’s website. And who are those amazing, off-kilter bands? How about Forró For Sho, Sgt. Sauerkraut’s Polka Band, Dead Freddie, Yid Vicious, November Criminals, The Polkanauts, The Polkaholics, and DJ Brümeister?

Telethon (record release) + Kali Masi @ X-Ray Arcade
Telethon has the unique ability to craft interesting, fun, and palatable material that touches on decidedly less enjoyable aspects of life. The Milwaukee- and Chicago-based “hard pop” band came out of relative obscurity in 2017 to take listeners on a 90-minute ride to the edge of existence on its weighty breakout album, The Grand Spontanean: A Tale Told In Five Acts. Telethon quickly followed that ambitious release by shining more light on the strange and arduous times we’re living through with its Modern Abrasive EP in 2018 and 2019’s excellent Hard Pop full-length. Now, the group is celebrating the release of its fifth LP, Swim Out Past The Breakers.

Milwaukee Fringe Festival @ Marcus Center Grounds
Each August since 2016, the Milwaukee Fringe Festival has showcased live acts from the worlds of theater, music, dance, and visual art downtown. Following the upstart festival’s encouraging first few years, organizers decided to bring Fringe Fest back for another installment in 2021. In addition to an array of artists performing at Marcus Center’s Peck Pavilion stage, there will be additional performances on the venue’s revamped outdoor spaces. Find the complete lineup HERE.

Daryl Hall & John Oates + Squeeze @ American Family Insurance Amphitheater
Hall and Oates! Enough said!