This Week in Milwaukee
Drugs Dragons, Broken Social Scene and Muse
Thursday, Sept. 30
Banned: Taboo Books, Bites and Libations@ Great Lakes Distillery, 5-9 p.m.
celebrates “Banned Books Week” with a fund-raiser for local libraries
to replace frequently stolen controversial books. The event includes
free distillery tours, a book-themed silent auction, a cash bar and
samples of two oft-banned delicacies: raw-milk cheese and absinthe.
Friday, Oct. 1
Drive-By Truckers @ The Pabst Theater, 9 p.m.
Ga., rockers the Drive-By Truckers followed up 2008’s revelatory
Brighter Than Creation’s Dark, a stripped-down and largely acoustic
album recorded after guitarist Jason Isbell left the band, with this
year’s The Big To-Do, one of the group’s most rocking albums yet, a disc
that displays particular debt to the roots rock of Tom Petty. Drive-By
Truckers continually fluctuate between rowdy Southern rock and sensitive
alt-country, but the constant is the bittersweet songwriting of
Patterson Hood and Mike Cooley, both of who pen simple but touching
tales of common people trying their best to do the right thing. This
show is presented in conjunction with Saturday’s Farm Aid concert.
WMSE Food Slam @ The Grohmann Museum, 6 p.m.
annual Food Slam fund-raiser relocates this year from the recently
closed Eisner Museum to another museum, the Grohmann, at 1000 N.
Broadway. The event is otherwise unchanged: It’s still perhaps the
least-stuffy food tasting in the city, with WMSE DJs spinning records as
patrons sample food and drink from more than 25 local restaurants,
including Molly Cool’s Seafood Tavern, Motor, Hotch-a-do, Trapiche,
Blue’s Egg, Beans & Barley and Simma’s Bakery. The $30 admission
includes all you can eat and access to the event’s silent auction, with
arts, crafts, gift certificates and tickets up for bid.
Saturday, Oct. 2
scuzz-rockers Drugs Dragons follow up a self-released 7-inch with a
self-titled full-length debut on Milwaukee’s rock clearinghouse Dusty
Medical at tonight’s release show. Like the band’s 7-inch, Drugs Dragons
chugs along in the spirit of AC/DC’s beer-swilling hard rock, but the
full-length digs even deeper into horror-punk and shock-rock influences.
Traces of The Misfits, The Cramps and Alice Cooper run through these
confrontational songs about deformed freaks, monsters, grave dwellers
and flesh eaters.
Eels w/ Jesca Hoop @ The Pabst Theater, 8 p.m.
Eels last played the Pabst Theater four years ago, they were touring
behind a languid, drum-less live album called Eels With Strings: Live at
Town Hall, yet to the surprise of the audience, they delivered a
balls-out rock ’n’ roll show that played like an extended Motrhead
homage. It just goes to show you never know what to expect from
singer/song-writer Mark Oliver Everett’s curveball-throwing alt-rock
band, which has been especially prolific in the past two years,
releasing a three-album trilogy of songs about “desire, loss and
redemption.” Though Eels albums sometimes suffer for Everett’s
prolificacy, the group’s newest disc, Tomorrow Morning, is their
strongest in years.
Sunday, Oct. 3
the five-year gap between Broken Social Scene’s self-titled 2005 album
and the group’s new Forgiveness Rock Record, the band was plenty
active during that time. As sometimes band member Leslie Feist enjoyed
solo stardom, other members recorded with sister bands like Stars,
Metric, The Weakerthans, Do Make Say Think and Apostle of Hustle, while
members Kevin Drew, Brendan Canning and Jason Collett recorded
notso-solo solo albums with help from their Broken Social Scene peers.
Forgiveness Rock Record is a more controlled effort than the band’s
wild 2005 album, with more overt post-rock undertones, perhaps a
testament to the influence of John McEntire, who produced the record.
McEntire joins the band on tour as the drummer for opening act The Sea
and Cake, a longtime fixture of Chicago’s jazz-inspired post-rock
Monday, Oct. 4
Strand of Oaks w/ Golden Coins and Wolfgang Schaefer @ Cactus Club, 8 p.m.
of 2010’s most striking folk records is also one of the most difficult
to hear. Strand of Oaks’ great new Pope Killdragon is being
distributed exclusively through the subscription website eMusic, so
listeners have to sign up to download it, but it’s nonetheless worth
seeking out. The record breaks from acoustic folk orthodoxy with its
daring use of vintage synthesizers, and unlike on Strand of Oaks’
confessional 2008 debut, this time singer-songwriter Timothy Showalter
writes outside himself, telling sometimes fantastical, sometimes
devastating stories about rebuilding in the aftermath of tragedy. Among
the most stark is “Daniel’s Blues,” a chilling piece of historical
fiction that imagines a grieving Dan Aykroyd taking violent revenge on
the drug dealer he believes responsible for John Belushi’s death.
Tuesday, Oct. 5
Jimmy Eat World w/ We Were Promised Jetpacks @ The Pabst Theater, 8 p.m.
no other band is as responsible for the proliferation of emo in its
current form than Jimmy Eat World. Though the group began as a
rough-edged emocore outfit in the mold of Sunny Day Real Estate, by its
2001 major-label breakthrough Bleed American the group had softened its
sound and dialed up the pop. That record yielded the major hits “The
Middle” and “Sweetness,” two song titles that aptly described the band’s
more accessible sound. The group’s new album, Invented, reunites them
with their early-era producer Mark Trombino, who returns a little bit
of the toughness to the band’s recording, though it’s balanced out by a
track list heavy on slow songs and ballads.
King’s X w/ Secret Society of Starfish @ Shank Hall, 8 p.m.
of the most notoriously unlucky bands in metal, King’s X was never
quite able to find the stardom their followers believed they deserved. A
could-have-been breakthrough single in 1989, “Over My Head,” was
inexplicably ignored by MTV and radio, while the even catchier 1990
follow-up single “It’s Love” only ignited as management issues sidelined
the band. In 1994, when grunge was finishing off the remnants of ’80s
hard-rock, King’s X received a rare pardon from Pearl Jam’s Eddie
Vedder, who plugged the band wholeheartedly, but even that endorsement
didn’t translate into sales. Despite the indignities, King’s X has aged
gracefully and continued to churn out strong albums pairing prog-metal
artiness with power-metal hooks, as on their most recent album, 2008’s
XV, as good an introduction to the group as any.
Wednesday, Oct. 6
Agnostic Front w/ Mother of Mercy, Product of Waste and Burning Sons @ Mad Planet, 8 p.m.
of the longest lasting and most prolific of the bands born of New
York’s squalid, early-’80s hardcore scene, Agnostic Front has changed
over the decades, becoming early adapters of thrash and taking a stab at
old-school, skinhead punk while it was in vogue around the turn of the
century (a sound that put them in line with many of their peers on
Epitaph Records, which the band was signed to around that time). The
group’s most recent works, including their latest album, 2007’s
Warriors, have been for the German metal label Nuclear Blast, so it’s
only fitting that they’ve been some of the band’s heaviest recordings
yet. The group may change with the times, but they’re certainly not ones
to mellow with age.
Muse w/ Passion Pit @ The Bradley Center, 7:30 p.m.
would have guessed that one of today’s biggest alt-rock bands would be
unabashed prog-rock fans, proud disciples of Queen and Rush? On their
latest album, 2009’s The Resistance, the British trio Muse builds on
the arena-filling ambitions of their hit 2006 album Black Holes and
Revelations, adding bigger, proggier sounds and more classical,
symphonic passages to the band’s radio-friendly epics. The album, in
true prog tradition, tells a detailed story involving a New World Order
and an alien invasion. Openers Passion Pit, a synth-rock group with an
ear for spastic hooks, will be playing their third Milwaukee show in
just seven months, following a spring concert at the Riverside Theater
and a crowded performance at Summerfest.