This Week in Milwaukee
JJ Grey & Mofro, Wu-Tang Clan and Hugh Bob and The Hustle
THURSDAY, JAN. 5
JJ Grey & Mofro's 'Brighter Days' @ Turner Hall Ballroom, 6:30 p.m.
The hard-boogieing Southern rock act JJ Grey & Mofro will return to Milwaukee later this month for a Jan. 19 performance at the Turner Hall Ballroom. In advance of that show, the venue is hosting a free screening of Brighter Days, a concert film capturing the band live at Atlanta's Variety Playhouse last January. Doors open at 6:30 p.m., with a $10 all-you-can-drink special that runs until the movie begins at 8 p.m. There will also be free popcorn.
FRIDAY, JAN. 6
Wu-Tang Clan w/ Rama @ The Rave, 8 p.m.
Between creative differences, a long run of solo disappointments and the 2004 death of firecracker Ol' Dirty Bastard, the legendary rap collective Wu-Tang Clan lost its way after the turn of the century. In recent years, though, the crew has been in fine form, as Raekwon, Ghostface Killah and Method Man have released some truly vital albums. And although Wu-Tang's 2007 album 8 Diagrams arrived shrouded in drama, with Raekwon and Ghostface disapproving of the RZA's more, uh, “interesting” production choices—the less said about that track with John Frusciante and Dhani Harrison the better—the group now shows signs of renewed unity. There's talk of a new album for next year, and all eight surviving members of the Clan will be performing on this tour, unlike last year's tour, which the RZA sat out.
Hugh Bob and The Hustle w/ Hayward Williams and Tim Schweiger and The Middlemen @ Cactus Club, 9 p.m.
Milwaukee's The Wildbirds dirty up their roots-rock with boozy rowdiness and glam-rock swagger, but the group's new, more country-minded sister band Hugh Bob and The Hustle— led by Wildbirds bassist Hugh Masterson—takes a mellower approach to American music. The group has released just one track so far, “Red, White & Blue Jeans,” a tuneful, Uncle Tupelo-styled love letter to the American dream, but more music is on the way. The band is in the process of recording a full-length for next year. The group shares this bill with Hayward Williams, a Milwaukee singer-songwriter with a rich, husky voice that suggests Bruce Springsteen and Townes Van Zandt, and power-pop stalwarts Tim Schweiger and The Middlemen.
The Beyond @ Times Cinema, 11 p.m.
Italian gore king Lucio Fulci's 1981 grindhouse classic The Beyond follows an unfortunate young woman who attempts to reopen an old hotel in Louisiana that happens to be a portal to hell. It's one of Fulci's most manic works, dense with nonlinear tangents (or continuity errors, depending on how you interpret them), and it's also one of his most unabashedly gruesome, a showcase for all manner of eye injuries and flesh wounds, with a script that shoehorns in every spook you can imagine: ghosts, zombies, demons, creepycrawlies, even mummies.
The Times Cinema screens a restored version of the movie on 35mm film. (Also Saturday, Jan. 7.)
Nostalgia for Everything: Performance Art and Video by Theresa Columbus @ 631 E. Center Street, 2A, 9 p.m.
A seminal Milwaukee performance artist and the former curator of Darling Hall, Theresa Columbus presents her latest performance-art program at a new, still-unnamed Riverwest gallery/ studio above the former Joe's East Coast Car Shop. Her show includes a video, set on the island of Crete, about art, places of nostalgia, family and the pleasures of disorientation; a live performance containing sensitive material about rape and the culture surrounding it; and a multimedia piece that pokes fun at artist statements and shows video documentation from Columbus' live performances, films and improvisations for the camera.
The Air on Everest w/ In the Company of Wolves @ Shank Hall, 8 p.m.
On their ReverbNation bio, The Air on Everest state their “intent of becoming one of the prominent acts of the U.S. for years to come.” That's a lofty goal, but the Waukesha trio may have the sound for it. Modeled after the emotive pop-punk of Blink-182 and Jimmy Eat World, the group's high-polish emo-pop would make them right at home on the Warped Tour and alternative radio stations. Last March the group released its debut album, Near the End.
SATURDAY, JAN. 7
Avicii @ The Rave, 8 p.m.
Swedish DJ Avicii is coming off a breakthrough 2011 that saw him release one of Europe's most popular dance singles, “Levels,” a merry slab of house-pop that memorably incorporated an unlikely Etta James sample; top the American dance charts with his Leona Lewis collaboration “Collide”; remix Coldplay and Daft Punk; and earn a Grammy nomination for Best Dance Recording for his collaboration with David Guetta, “Sunshine.” Like Guetta, Avicii's style of electro-house is acutely in tune with the contemporary pop charts, so the 22-year-old seems set to become a real player in Top 40 music this year.
Uptown Saturday Night @ Mad Planet, 10 p.m.
Through their record label Dope Folks, Milwaukee hip-hop enthusiasts John “Kid Millions” Kuester and Chris Schulist reissue long-out-of-print (and sometimes completely unreleased) treasures from rap's golden era, from artists like Rock La Flow, Prophets of the Ghetto, The Bizzie Boyz and The Wizard of Rap. For their Uptown Saturday Night throwback dance party at Mad Planet the first Saturday of each month, though, the Dope Folks DJs stick to the most celebrated songs in the rap songbook, spinning hands-in-the-air hits from the '80s and '90s from acts like Black Sheep, Dr. Dre, The Pharcyde, M.O.P. and Eric B. and Rakim.
TUESDAY, JAN. 10
Ex Fabula: 'Faking It' @ Bay View Brew Haus, 7:30 p.m.
The popular storytelling series Ex Fabula invites local figures to share autobiographical, five-minute stories in front of a live audience (no notes allowed), usually around a theme that's intentionally vague, leaving plenty of room for tales of both high drama and broad comedy. After last month's “December Spectacular” at the Turner Hall Ballroom, the series hosts two events with different themes this month—the Jan. 10 gathering is themed “Faking It,” while the theme for the Jan. 28 installment at Kochanski's Concertina Beer Hall is “Generation Gap.”