Psych Fest Has Come for Your Mind

The fourth iteration will touch down at the Cactus Club this weekend. Plus: Space Raft’s album release party and more.

The venerated Bay View establishment Cactus Club dominates the music schedule this week on an otherwise tepid start to May. On Wednesday night, the venue welcomes the Los Angeles-based psych-punk band Death Valley Girls with opening slots from the Appleton punk trio Tenement and Milwaukee’s Fox Face. The following evening marks the return of Mike Krol, a Wauwatosa native who made his debut for Merge Records in August with the power pop gem Turkey. That show features local openers Sat. Nite Duets and Midwives.

But all that’s just an appetizer for what’s in store for the weekend. Starting Friday night, the club hosts the fourth iteration of Milwaukee Psych Fest, a weekend-long festival that rounds up the finest collection of psychedelic musicians in the area (Calliope, Tapebenders, Plastic Crimewave Syndicate and Ryley Walker) and beyond (Klaus Johann Grobe, Murals, Sugar Candy Mountain and Flavor Crystals). It’s an event that embraces the weird and sui generis minds of those working on the fringes of rock music. For those unimpressed by the more formulaic rhythms and well-trod paths of contemporary bands, Milwaukee Psych Fest should be an eye-opening experience.

A ticket to individual shows range from $7-$15. A better option for those who hate to fumble through your wallet for cash may be the all-inclusive weekend passes, which are available for advance purchase on the Cactus Club website for $40. The full line-up is provided below:

Friday, May 6 (Doors open at 9 p.m.)

  • Vocokesh
  • Moss Folk
  • Plastic Crimewave Syndicate featuring special guest Sigmund Snopek III

Saturday, May 7 (early show)

  • The 45’s, 1 p.m.
  • Chives, 1:45 p.m.
  • Black Thumb. 2:30 p.m.
  • Young Revelators, 3:15 p.m.
  • Slow Walker, 4 p.m.
  • Lake of Fire, 4:45 p.m.

Saturday, May 7 (late show)

  • Calliope, 6 p.m.
  • Painted Caves, 7 p.m.
  • Levitation Room, 8 p.m.
  • Sugar Candy Mountain, 9 p.m.
  • Murals, 10 p.m.
  • Klaus Johann Grobe, 11 p.m.
  • Ryley Walker, midnight

Sunday, May 8

  • IDPyramid, 3 p.m.
  • Blue Unit, 4 p.m.
  • Tapebenders, 5 p.m.
  • Piles, 6 p.m.
  • Cult of Lip, 7 p.m.
  • F/i, 8 p.m.
  • Flavor Crystals, 9 p.m.

Stream of the Week

Rubicon, the soaring sophomore record from Space Raft, has been out for a couple weeks now, but the band officially celebrates the release of the album with a belated party at Mad Planet this Saturday night. The show features fellow local rock heavyweights Midnight Reruns, Phylums and Platinum Boys. While the sci-fi elements that imbued the band’s 2014 debut still remain, Rubicon tackles very concrete social issues, like alcoholism (“Bitter Cup”) and the shooting of Dontre Hamilton (“Red Arrow”), with brute force.

This Week in Live Music

Tuesday, May 3: The Struts with Made Violent at The Rave, 7:30 p.m. ($16) – (2401 W. Wisconsin Ave.,

Wednesday, May 4: Death Valley Girls with Tenement and Fox Face at Cactus Club, 9 p.m. ($8) – (2496 S. Wentworth Ave.,

Thursday, May 5: Mike Krol with Sat. Nite Duets and Midwives at Cactus Club, 9 p.m. ($8) – (2496 S. Wentworth Ave.,

Also: Home Free at The Pabst Theater, 7:30 p.m. ($20.75-$131.25) – (1032 N. 4th St.,

Friday, May 6: Silversun Pickups with Foals and Joywave at The Rave, 8 p.m. ($26-$31) – (2401 W. Wisconsin Ave.,

Saturday, May 7: Space Raft (album release) with Midnight Reruns, Phylums, Platinum Boys and DJ Chris Schulist at Mad Planet, 9 p.m. ($10) – (533 E. Center St,

Also: Say Anything with mewithoutYou, Teen Suicide and Museum Mouth at The Rave, 8 p.m. ($18.50-$23.50) – (2401 W. Wisconsin Ave.,

Sunday, May 8: Curse with Vanishing Kids and Milorganaut at Frank’s Power Plant, 9 p.m. – (2800 S. Kinnickinnic Ave.,



Kevin is a freelance writer residing in Milwaukee. He’s contributed to The Shepherd Express, Third Coast Daily, Pop Matters and the sadly now-defunct A.V. Club Milwaukee. He looks forward to forging a deeper connection with the city’s impressive music scene during his gig as a Music Notes blogger. His talents include music criticism, riding a bicycle, drinking tasty beers and a crafty croquet swing. His weaknesses comprise Jean-Claude Van Damme movies, professional wrestling and his ever-growing record collection. He’s in desperate need to find more physical (and hard drive) space for the exceptional albums Milwaukee musicians keep churning out.