Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Milwaukee Concert Picks: Friko at Cactus and a Back Room farewell

Friko (left) at Cactus Club and the Back Room's going-away party lead this week's lineup of Milwaukee concerts.
Friko / Pabst Theater Group
Friko (left) at Cactus Club and the Back Room's going-away party lead this week's lineup of Milwaukee concerts.

Milwaukee’s concert scene has a lot going on, so we look at the shows coming up to find the ones you’ll look back on and be glad you went. Then we add them to our weekly Milwaukee Concert Picks.

This week, we’d be 110% remiss to not mention the final hurrahs of the beloved Back Room @ Colectivo run by our friends over at the Pabst Theater Group. The final final show is with Drag City Records’ Bitchin Bajas next Friday, but this week (namely, Saturday) PTG turns it over to their employees and their widespread musical endeavors.

As they write, “We’ve got a special evening planned to send the venue off in style. … Enjoy performances by MKE (and Pabst Theater Group employee) bands Cripes, Toadskin, Widacre, Eliza Hanson and CAW, and reminisce on the past eight years of amazing experiences.” Tickets are free and still available as of this writing, but you’d be wise to claim yours right away via the PTG website.

This Saturday brings more Midwestern love to another beloved stage. 88Nine’s fondness for Chicago indie-rock duo Friko goes back to when we first laid ears on their single, “Crimson to Chrome,” released back in August. Although the band has made music since 2020, it’s undeniable that their wave crested with a monsoon of extra activity this year.

Vocalist/guitarist Niko Kapetan and drummer Bailey Minzenberger created a buzz at SXSW this past March, setting the stage for an even busier second half of 2023. That included the announcement of their full-length, Where we’ve been, Where we go from here, due out Feb. 16.

Friko’s instantaneous draw lies in Kapetan’s quavery vocals that can go from a hushed, trembling whisper to a rock-and-roll yowl in mere moments. When I chatted with the band earlier this year, they described themselves as “a family” foremost, debunking the knee-jerk reaction to disregard them as rock ‘n’ roll primadonnas based on sound alone.

Bringing Friko even more firmly down to earth, Kapetan notes that their name directly derives from his high-school nickname. Niko “Friko” Kapetan added that his equally down-to-earth city went a long way to getting them where they are right now.

“The community of musicians in Chicago is so friendly and welcoming,” he noted. “There are also great scenes happening that stretch from folks in their teens to others in their 30s. Along with that, there are so many great venues [like] Sleeping Village.” Milwaukeeans will likely vibe with this sort of ecosystem, as it mirrors elements of our own musical city.

If you’ve caught Friko’s “Crimson to Chrome” on 88Nine’s airwaves this spring and colored yourself intrigued, you’ve got a fresh chance to see the band play a set this Saturday at the Cactus Club in Bay View. They made good on their previously made promise to “shoot up [to Milwaukee] sometime in the very near future.” Consider catching their whirlwind brand of rock ‘n’ roll before another busy year hits.

More shows worth a go

88Nine Music Director / On-Air Talent | Radio Milwaukee