Apr. 17 - Apr. 23
This Week in Milwaukee
Friday, April 18
Stars w/ The 1900s @ The Pabst Theater, 8 p.m.
Blending a mix of narrative lyrics, lush instrumentation and synth-pop flourishes, the Toronto-based indie-pop collective Stars has distinguished itself from fellow bands treading this well-worn terrain. Led by vocalists Torquil Campbell and Amy Millan, both sometimes members of Broken Social Scene, the group has managed a few minor hits, including “Ageless Beauty” and “Your Ex-Lover Is Dead,” two standouts from their 2004 breakthrough break-up album Set Yourself on Fire. Their latest studio album, In Our Bedroom After the War, was released two months early last summer to stave off Internet leaks, but when it attracted a premature, slightly unflattering review from Pitchfork Media, Campbell tore into the writer—never a smart move—as part of a divisive, hotheaded treatise on the state of music criticism he posted to the band’s MySpace page. Thankfully, subsequent reviews proved more convivial, perhaps preventing a rehash of the embarrassing incident.
Saturday, April 19
Babylon Circus @ Alverno College, 8 p.m.
There’s something reassuring about international ska bands, a comfort that comes from knowing that although a band may hail from half a globe away, their music can still sound like it was recorded next door. The French outfit Babylon Circus puts a few globe-trotting twists on the textbook ska sound—there’s a lot more Bob Marley in the vocals than usual, and an occasional Balkan Gypsy shuffle to the guitars—but their underlying ska rhythm is as familiar as it is universal.
Record Store Day @ Various Locations
Record labels have been hardest hit by the music industry recession—a result that many listeners seem to be OK with, given that record labels have long been viewed as the industry’s soulless, profiteering villains—but the industry’s good guys, those tiny independent record stores, have also taken a pounding as listeners increasingly turn to downloading. As part of a national push to get consumers to return to those wonderful hubs they used to buy their music from, some great artists—including R.E.M., Built to Spill, Stephen Malkmus and Death Cab For Cutie—are releasing a series of exclusive, in-store-only singles today, while record stores around Milwaukee offer special sales, promotions and entertainment.
Atomic Records and the Exclusive Co. have particularly full schedules of great local bands lined up. For complete schedules, visit ExpressMilwaukee.com’s music page.
Reverend Horton Heat w/ Nashville Pussy @ The Rave, 8 p.m.
Has a band ever been more intrinsically linked to a specific genre than Rev. Horton Heat is to psychobilly? The Cramps may have set the stage for the genre, but with their recklessly punked-out spin on country and rockabilly music, Rev. Horton Heat has all but defined it. Hopefully tonight the good Reverend can absolve some of the sins of his opening act, the sexed-up and vulgar Southernrock band Nashville Pussy.
Montgomery Gentry w/ Gary Allan and Phil Stacey @ The Bradley Center, 7:30 p.m.
It’s not exactly shooting a man in Reno just to watch him die, but country singer Troy Gentry, of the hit-making country duo Montgomery Gentry, improperly tagged a bear he’d shot on a private reserve as if it’d been killed in the wild—a surprisingly serious crime that set him back $15,000 in fines. The mis-tagging debacle is about as edgy as Montgomery Gentry gets, though, as its brand of country is the feelgood, inspirational sort. Tonight, the bearkilling, hope-giving duo headlines the FM 106.1-sponsored CountryFest ’08 with honky-tonk enthusiast Gary Allan and clean-cut, all-American “American Idol” hopeful Phil Stacey, whose debut album sees release later this month.
Sunday, April 20
Beatallica w/ Spiral Trance @ Vnuk’s Lounge, 7 p.m.
The joke should have grown stale by now—band mashes up Beatles favorites with Metallica lyrics and thrash-metal attitude—but somehow Milwaukee’s Beatallica keeps finding ways to keep it fresh. The group’s latest album, Sgt. Hetfield’s Motorbreath Pub Band, contains songs like “Blackened the U.S.S.R.,”
“Hey Dude,” and an “Enter Sandman”/“Taxman” sendup called simply “Sandman.”
Sunday, April 20
Kraftwerk @ The Rave/Eagles Club, 8 p.m.
It is hard to believe that the godfathers of electronic music have been creating their signature brand of electro-pop since the early ’70s. After nearly 40 years, countless imitators and an immeasurable amount of influence on the modern musical landscape, Kraftwerk is still finding new fans in the electronic music scene, but the group’s performances have become rare. Tonight’s tour stop is one of just three scheduled U.S. warm-up dates in advance of the group’s headlining spot at this year’s Coachella festival. Eat your heart out, Chicago.
Monday, April 21
Mac Lethal @ Mad Planet, 9 p.m.
Balding and curmudgeonly, Missouri rapper and recent Rhymesayers signee Mac Lethal speaks for everyone who came of age on ’90s hip-hop but can’t muster the same excitement for current pop music. He raps extended, insult-comedian tirades against modern R&B singers like T-Pain and Ciara and pop starlets like Stacy “Fergie” Ferguson (“She smokes meth—look it up on Wikipedia!” he’s been known to shout at his shows) and, as if to prove his allegiance to the bygone era of his youth, last time he played Milwaukee he rapped the Konami Code: “Up, up, down, down, left, right, left, right, B, A.”
Joe Jackson w/ Mutlu @ The Pabst Theater, 8 p.m.
“Hey, can you hear me now as I fade away?” Joe Jackson sings on his latest album, Rain. Though Jackson might believe he has faded away or moved beyond relevance, he still commands some major respect, thanks to his reputation as a New Wave pioneer. Fans who are only familiar with his string of late-’70s/early-’80s radio hits like “Is She Really Going Out with Him?” will be pleasantly surprised by his new, more streamlined band setup. On Rain, Jackson complements his piano-based compositions with only bass and drums, and he’s touring behind the same guitar-less dynamic.
Tuesday, April 22
Colin Meloy (of The Decemberists) w/ Laura Gibson @ The Pabst Theater, 8 p.m.
Since The Decemberists released their breakout album Picaresque in 2005, frontman Colin Meloy has twice taken to the road for short solo acoustic tours.
Each jaunt has brought with it a special tour-only EP tackling the catalogs of such luminaries as Judy Collins and Morrissey, and this third go-round will be no different, as concertgoers can purchase Colin Meloy Sings Sam Cooke at the merchandise table.
Also on sale—at both the merch booth and in stores—is Colin Meloy Sings Live!, a collection of live tracks culled from his 2006 solo trek. Fans of The Decemberists’ more recent progrock endeavors will likely be out of luck tonight, since Meloy usually rolls out only the covers and his band’s more stripped-down fare for his solo shows. Expect a few numbers with opener and occasional Decemberists collaborator Laura Gibson. The Portland, Ore., singer’s delicate voice can be heard singing background on all of Meloy’s solo releases.
Michael Buble @ The Bradley Center, 8 p.m.
Big-voiced adult contemporary/big band singer Michael Buble rolls into the Bradley Center tonight in support of his third record of mostly pop standards, a disc that cracked No. 1 on the charts (a feat that, admittedly, is less impressive in today’s musical climate than it would have been 10 years ago). The suave, 30-something singer has made his career on covering classics from artists like Otis Redding, Ray Charles, The Beatles and Eric Clapton and, since he only has a few originals to his name thus far, tonight’s performance should be heavy on those familiar standards.
UWM’s Distinguished Lecture Series presents: An Evening with Adrienne Rich @ UWM Union Ballroom, 7:30 p.m.
Adrienne Rich, one of America’s greatest living poets, has won nearly every award possible during her distinguished six-decade career. Since 1951 she has been penning and publishing thoughtful literary works detailing the rise and necessity of feminism in America. The 78-year-old poet and essayist is renowned for her will and uncompromising stance in discussing subjects such as same-sex relationships at a time when such topics were widely considered taboo outside of the literary community. Rich, the rare poet who routinely garners mainstream success and attention outside of the poetic realm, comes to UW-Milwaukee tonight for an extensive reading from her latest work, Telephone Ringing in the Labyrinth: Poems: 2004-2006. The lecture will be followed by a greeting session and book signing.