This Week in Milwaukee
Sharon Jones, The Flaming Lips and The Get Up Kids
THURSDAY, JULY 7
Katy Perry w/ Marina and the Diamonds @ Marcus Amphitheater, Summerfest, 7:30 p.m.
Fallen Christian singer Katy Hudson's quest for fame took her seven years, four labels and one of the most epic makeovers in pop history, but as Katy Perry she finally broke through with the lurid hit “I Kissed a Girl” from the 2008 album One of the Boys. Her 2010 follow-up record Teenage Dream has been even more of a goliath, spawning four international hits—“California Gurls,” “Firework,” “E.T.” and the title song—each of which plays off the singer's brazen voice and tawdry persona.
Musiq Soulchild @ Briggs & Stratton Big Backyard, Summerfest, 10 p.m.
Musiq Soulchild's reverence for classic soul singers like Stevie Wonder and Marvin Gaye made it easy to lump the Philadelphia singersongwriter
into the turn-of-the-century neo-soul movement, but his records have rarely conformed to strict neo-soul conventions.
His latest, Musiqinthemagiq, is typically eclectic, touching on R&B styles from the '60s to the present, and it opens with a banger: “Anything,” a Swizz Beatz-assisted disco-boogie jam.
Yonder Mountain String Band @ Potawatomi Bingo Casino Stage and Pavilion, Summerfest, 10 p.m.
The Yonder Mountain String Band was born when banjoist Dave Johnston told college buddy Jeff Austin to bring his mandolin to his band's performance and “play anything fast and loud.” That band, The Bluegrassholes, soon collapsed, but Johnston and Austin's penchant for playing loose, carefree jams lived on with the YMSB, a progressive bluegrass quartet that has produced three consecutive No. 1 albums on the U.S. Bluegrass charts (yes, there really is such a thing).
Michael Franti @ Miller Lite Oasis, Summerfest, 10 p.m.
Just by looking at the tattooed, dreadlocked Michael Franti, you can tell he marches to the beat of his own drum. By listening to him, you can tell he sings to it, too. Over a fusion of reggae, hip-hop, rock and jazz, his records touch on social-justice issues, war, religion and politics, and though his sunny romp “Say Hey (I Love You)” gave him a crossover hit in 2009, more notable are his provocative lyrics like “You can bomb the world to pieces, but you can't bomb it into peace,” which made it onto T-shirts and protest signs in the wake of 9/11.
FRIDAY, JULY 8
Sharon Jones and The Dap-Kings @ Potawatomi Bingo Casino Stage and Pavilion, Summerfest, 10 p.m.
Sharon Jones long ago dreamed of being a successful soul singer, but it wasn't until 30 years later that those dreams were finally realized. With her razor-sharp backing band The Dap-Kings, Jones belts out the classic soul and funk of her youth, recording albums that could easily be mistaken for authentic relics from the '60s. Her latest, I Learned the Hard Way, softens some of the hard-funk edge of her early material for a silkier sound, but Jones' concerts are as up-tempo as ever, recalling the raw energy of James Brown.
Jason Aldean w/ Chris Young and Thompson Square @ Marcus Amphitheater, Summerfest, 7 p.m.
Macon, Ga., native Jason Aldean has been a country mainstay since his single “Hicktown,” a rollicking, irreverent ode to small towns everywhere, reached No. 10 on the country charts back in 2005. But it wasn't until his third album, Wide Open, that Aldean truly emerged as one of the South's most scintillating talents, with three consecutive songs.
Goo Goo Dolls @ Miller Lite Oasis, Summerfest, 10 p.m.
Before they broke out in the '90s, Goo Goo Dolls spent nearly a decade stuck in musical purgatory. Their sound was a vaguely unoriginal mix of heavy and punk rock, and their first four albums received only the mildest attention. When they shifted their sound to more mainstream alt-rock on their fifth album, A Boy Named Goo, they scored a hit with the song “Name.”
Their follow-up record, 1998's Dizzy Up the Girl, further softened their sound and yielded their signature song, the weeping pop-ballad “Iris.”
Saturday, July 9
The Flaming Lips @ Harley-Davidson Roadhouse, Summerfest, 10 p.m.
After the fluke success of their 1994 single “She Don't Use Jelly,” The Flaming Lips emerged as one of the few bands of the alternative-rock era to reinvent themselves for indierock audiences, using their major-label budget to create lavish, uplifting experimental rock albums like 1999's The Soft Bulletin and 2002's Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots and earning a reputation for their celebratory, prop-heavy live shows. The band returned to their dark, psychedelicrock roots with their most recent album, 2009's Embryonic, a chilling record about the inevitability of death.
De La Soul @ Potawatomi Bingo Casino Stage and Pavilion, Summerfest, 10 p.m.
Few long-lived rap acts have been as astonishingly consistent as De La Soul, the Long Island trio that recorded one of hip-hop's most groundbreaking albums, 1989's 3 Feet High and Rising, and went on to record a series of great follow-ups that successfully escaped that album's long shadow. In 2000 they began an ambitious trilogy of albums titled Art Official Intelligence, but plans for the third installment were scrapped when the group's longtime label Tommy Boy crumbled in 2002. The group moved on to other projects, but this year they may finally get some closure: They announced that their next album will be Art Official Intelligence III.
De La Soul
The Get Up Kids @ Miller Lite Oasis, Summerfest, 8 p.m.
The Get Up Kids
Although guitarist Jim Suptic, in retrospect, has tried to apologize for helping to forge presentday “emo rock,” The Get Up Kids are nonetheless pioneers and forerunners of the genre. The band rose to prominence during the second wave of indie alt-rock with their debut album Four Minute Mile, a classic record that would inspire future groups including Fall Out Boy and Blink-182. This year the band released There Are Rules, their first new record in seven years.
Sunday, July 10
Sugarland w/ Sara Bareilles @ Marcus Amphitheater, Summerfest, 7:30 p.m.
Sugarland has made a career out of slyly subverting pop-country conventions. The duo's 2008 album, Love on the Inside, was recorded with minimal overdubs—a rarity in the overproduced world of modern country—and though last year's The Incredible Machine sported a glossier studio sound, it was perhaps the most oddly themed mainstream country record of the last halfdecade, loaded with Victorian imagery and steampunk fantasies. It featured the bubblegum hit “Stuck Like Glue.”
Tuesday, July 12
Emmylou Harris @ Pabst Theater, 8 p.m.
For an artist who has made a career out of being a backup vocalist for superstars like Bruce Springsteen and Bob Dylan, Emmylou Harris sure knows how to stand out. Her solo forays include hits on both the pop and country charts; her collaboration with Dolly Parton and Linda Ronstadt, 1987's landmark Trio album, earned her a Grammy nomination for Album of the Year. In April she released her 26th album, Hard Bargain, which includes songs she wrote about the late songwriters Gram Parsons and Kate McGarrigle, two of the many musicians she has collaborated with since the 1970s.