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 9-15, 2021.


Wisconsin State Fair @ Wisconsin State Fair Park (ongoing, through August 15)
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.


Chill On The Hill: The LOL + Fellow Kinsman @ Humboldt Park
[Canceled due to weather]
Even though it’s not quite the nightmare it was last year, this year’s official Milwaukee Summer feels a bit…different. Another thing that’s different: Milwaukee dance pop outfit Lauryl Sulfate + Her Ladies Of Leisure, now simply known as The LOL. In new single “Laguna,” The LOL show off an updated sound to go with that name change. The group’s glittering disco strings of yore have been replaced with a darker, ’80s-tinged synth vibe. The video, too (much of it filmed at Atwater Beach) is a moody, black-and-white affair, playing less like last year’s jubilant “Selfie” and more like a Bergman film shot in portrait mode.


Tosa Tonight: Listening Party + L’Resorts @ Hart Park
[Canceled due to weather]
Since 2000, the Tosa Tonight summer concert series has brought free and family-friendly live music to Rotary Performance Pavilion in Wauwatosa’s Hart Park. Like most large-scale events in and around Milwaukee, the series was canceled in 2020 on account of the COVID-19 crisis. However, Tosa Tonight has returned from that one-year hiatus with a total of eight concerts in 2021. One of its most appealing installments on the lineup is the penultimate performance, which features Listening Party and L’Resorts.

Margaret Rozga Poetry Reading @ Lion’s Tooth
If you haven’t been to Lion’s Tooth lately (or yet), change that now. Bay View’s newest independent bookshop/cafe specializes in graphic novels, small press books, and local authors. About that last bit: 2019-2020 Wisconsin Poet Laureate Margaret Rozga will be stopping by at 5 p.m. to read from her latest book, Holding My Selves Together: New & Selected Poems. The event will also be streamed online via Instagram @lionstoothmke.


SistaStrings + Evan Lane @ Company Brewing
This homecoming show from SistaStrings—who moved to Tennessee earlier this year—doubles as Company Brewing’s first show since March of last year. Joining the incomparable Milwaukee expats for this can’t-miss return performance is multi-instrumentalist Evan Lane.

Dale Watson & His Lonestars + Joseph Huber, Black Widows @ The Cooperage
The Austin Chronicle had called Dale Watson a “silver pompadoured, baritone beltin’, Lone Star beer drinkin’, honky-tonk hellraiser.” If that isn’t enough to convince you to check out this country lifer, maybe support from Milwaukee’s own Joseph Huber will do the trick. Dale Watson’s latest album, by the way, is 2019’s Call Me Lucky.

Daniel Van Kirk @ The Laughing Tap
Dan Van Kirk is the pride of Rochelle, Illinois. The (now-L.A.-based) stand-up comedian, improvisor, impressionist, and podcaster—who’s probably best-known in the medium for his work alongside the Sklaar Brothers on Dumb People Town—returns to his beloved Midwest when his “Together Again Tour” drops by The Laughing Tap.

Essenger + Young Medicine, Dashcam, Day Tvvo, Night Spice @ X-Ray Arcade

Rainbow Summer: ‘Footloose’ (1984) @ Marcus Center Grounds


Sleepersound (record release) + Shamewave, Cassini Echoes @ X-Ray Arcade
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. Let Idle Voices wash over you in person when Sleepersound celebrates its release at tonight’s show.

Moon Rats + El Perro, Spirit Mother, Mad Alchemy Liquid Light Show @ The Cooperage
Blasting down the highway on a smoke-spewing chopper. Thwarting the forces of evil by wielding an epic motor sword. Legend Of Zelda and Spaceballs references. Riffs upon riffs. They’re all par for the course for Moon Rats, Milwaukee’s finest psyched-out, stoner-rific hard rock band with songs like, well, “Motor Sword.” Tonight’s show should be mind-altering doozy, and that’s not even taking into account that it’ll serve as the official afterparty for the Milwaukee Underwear Bike Ride.

Umphrey’s McGee @ Riverside Theater

Last Podcast On The Left @ Pabst Theater

Concert Cruise: The Exotics @ Milwaukee Boat Line


Dead Feathers + Yum Yum Cult, Hoppers Luck, Mad Alchemy Liquid Light Show @ Boone & Crockett
If you checked out Friday’s Moon Rats show at The Cooperage, and you’re looking for even more mind-bending fun along the Milwaukee River, don’t miss this Dead Feathers show at next-door Boone & Crockett. The psych-leaning Chicago outfit will be joined by Milwaukee’s own Yum Yum Cult and Hoppers Luck, as well as the trusty Mad Alchemy Liquid Light Show.

Widacre + Nik Stoehr (Flat Teeth), Nasty Boys, Reynaldo Jenkins And The Teardrops @ X-Ray Arcade

The Get Down @ Mad Planet

Visiting Artist: Pacolli + Mural Reveal Party @ Lion’s Tooth


Memorial For Nathan Hughes: Platinum Boys + Sex Scenes @ The Cooperage
The Milwaukee music scene suffered a huge loss when Hughes Family Band member Nathan Hughes died last week. Tonight’s show celebrates his life and music. As with all shows at The Cooperage, proof of COVID-19 vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test result is needed for entry.

Lillie Mae + Maple Road @ 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 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.