This Week in Milwaukee
Rick Ross, Minus the Bear and John Legend
Thursday, Dec. 16
Rick Ross @ U.S. Cellular Arena, 7 p.m.
Teflon Don is a fittingly titled victory lap for Rick Ross.
being outed in 2008 as a former correctional officer—a revelation that
would have almost instantly killed the credibility and careers of most
mid-level gangsta rappers—the stout Florida rapper silenced critics with
his great 2009 record, Deeper Than Rap; if anything, the scandal only
helped publicize the album. His new Teflon Don is even better than
Deeper Than Rap, a rich, immensely soulful album recorded with assists
from R&B singers including John Legend, Cee Lo, Erykah Badu, Ne- Yo,
Chrisette Michele and Raphael Saadiq.
Le Noise Screening @ Sugar Maple, 8 p.m.
Young’s new record Le Noise certainly doesn’t sound like an album
produced by studio pioneer Daniel Lanois. Unlike most Lanois
productions, it’s raw and stripped down, a distorted, feedback-laden set
that emphasizes Young’s electric guitar. Tonight the Sugar Maple hosts a
free screening of the DVD that accompanies the album, which features
black-and-white footage of Young playing each song on the record, along
with commentary from Lanois.
Grit Patterns @ BYO Studio
“Grit Patterns” exhibition at Bay View’s BYO Studio showcases the
designs of 14 UW-Milwaukee architecture and urban planning students who
developed permanent, functional architectural installations for local
businesses, including Roast Coffee and Hi Hat Lounge. Working with wood
and steel donated by local manufacturers, the students created
installations with clever, parametric designs and an experimental edge.
The pieces will be on display at the studio through Dec. 26 before they
are moved to their permanent homes.
Friday, Dec. 17
1956 w/ The Amateur Astronaut and The Ragadors @ The Cactus Club, 10 p.m.
1956 gets better with age. After a couple of early releases steeped in
crushingly heavy alt-rock riffs and Helmetinspired screeds, the trio
matured in satisfying directions on their 2007 record, Saboteur, which
they spent years crafting, swapping some of their hard-rock swagger for
bleary-eyed nods to The National while still playing to the band’s
penchant for searing, propulsive guitar riffs. Recorded with Call Me
Lightning’s Shane Hochstetler at his Howl Street Recordings studio, the
band’s new Lowtide further builds on the melancholic tones of Saboteur,
adding extra orchestrations and instrumental flourishes. The band marks
the album’s release with this show.
Minus the Bear w/ Tim Kasher @ The Rave, 8 p.m.
their twisty, tangled guitars and numbercrunching chord changes, Minus
the Bear sounds increasingly disconnected from a greater indierock scene
that now prefers cute-overload pop or tranquilized, NPR-friendly
troubadours, but that’s part of their growing appeal. Of course, it also
helps that this Seattle group has honed its craft over recent albums
and EPs, moving from the calculated stiffness of early releases toward
warmer, sweeter songs. Their latest album, Omni, also introduces new
synthesizer and drum-machine textures to their mix. The band shares this
current tour with Cursive frontman Tim Kasher, who this fall released
his first solo record (see page 35).
REO Speedwagon w/ Megan McCormick @ The Riverside Theater, 8 p.m.
most ’80s power-balladeers, REO Speedwagon faded from popularity by the
early ’90s, existing largely as a touring act on the state-fair
circuit. But the band has made a bit of a comeback in recent years,
earning unlikely acclaim for their 2007 Wal-Mart-only album, Find Your
Own Way Home. That album returned the band to the harder, rock sound of
their ’70s material, distancing them a bit from the adult-contemporary
soft-rock for which they would become better known in the ’80s.
Tonight’s show is a benefit for Children’s Hospital.
John Legend @ Potawatomi Bingo Casino, 8 p.m.
Legend is the first to poke fun at his image as a silver-tongued,
ivorytickling crooner. He’s parodied his image on Stephen Colbert’s
Christmas special, where he sang a typically sensual song about nutmeg,
and in his own video for his 2008 hit “Green Light,” which opened with
him boring a party with a quiet rendition of his signature ballad
“Ordinary People.” His 2008 album Evolver, though, upended his image,
adding an electronic dance pulse to his smooth soul songs. His latest
album, Wake Up!, is another change of pace, a politically minded set of
vintage soul and funk covers he recorded with The Roots. Legend does two
shows at the Potawatomi Bingo Casino this weekend, on Saturday and
Monday, Dec. 20
The Sleighriders @ Shank Hall, 7 p.m.
December, veterans and friends of the Milwaukee music scene gather
together as The Sleighriders for a big, exuberant jam session benefi
ting the SafeZone Community Art Center. This year’s lineup is one of the
event’s most loaded yet, featuring dozens of players, including members
of the Eddie Butts Band, The Booze Brothers, Genesis Rewired, Hot
Sauce, Bad Boy, The Greg Koch Band and Streetlife, as well as Cheap
Trick drummer Bun E. Carlos.
Wednesday, Dec. 22
The Christmas Music of Mannheim Steamroller by Chip Davis @ Milwaukee Theatre, 7:30 p.m.
Trans-Siberian Orchestra would later update and amp up the same formula
with some progged-out electric guitars, but Mannheim Steamroller was
the first outfit to make a fortune modernizing Christmas classics for
New Age listeners. Their synthesized and comically dramatic arrangements
of traditionals like “Carol of the Bells” and “God Rest Ye Merry
Gentlemen” have become such seasonal hits that the group has recorded
only three nonholiday albums since their 1984 Yuletide breakthrough
Mannheim Steamroller Christmas. Their latest album, 2008’s
Christmasville, is their 10th Christmasthemed record. (Also Thursday,