This Week in Milwaukee
Aziz Ansari, Field Report and Milwaukee Underground Film Festival
Thursday, May 3
International Pop Overthrow Festival @ Linneman's Riverwest Inn, 8 p.m.
Los Angeles promoter David Bash founded his International Pop Overthrow Festival in 1998 to showcase bands performing in the loosely defined power-pop tradition—pretty much any group playing melodic, guitar-based rock qualifies—and has since established satellite Pop Overthrow festivals around the world, including one in Milwaukee that is celebrating its fifth straight year this weekend with three nights of music at Linneman's Riverwest Inn. Six bands play each night, including Great Lake Drifters, Trolley and Certain Stars on Thursday; All The Damn Action and Wally Dogger on Friday; and Dave Rave and Red Giant on Saturday. Certain Stars' performance will double as the album release party for the band's new The Great Destroyer.
Friday, May 4
Aziz Ansari @ The Riverside Theater, 6 p.m.
A full-time gig on NBC's consistently brilliant “Parks and Recreation,” where he plays the small-time government employee and aspiring entertainment mogul Tom Haverford, hasn't kept Aziz Ansari from refining his stand-up routine. This year Ansari self-released his latest comedy special, Dangerously Delicious, another sharp, pop-culture-obsessed set with more celebrity anecdotes in the spirit of the Kanye West and R. Kelly routines from his 2010 special Intimate Moments for a Sensual Evening (this time he mines laughs by dishing about his time hanging out with a much less likely comical figure, Jay-Z).
Field Report w/ Lisa Ridgely and the Fainting Room, and Chris DeMay @ Club Garibaldi, 9 p.m.
The artists formerly known as Conrad Plymouth, Field Report, have attracted major buzz outside of the city for their forthcoming album, which was recorded at Justin Vernon's new mega-studio in Eau Claire. That record won't be out for a while yet, but this bill celebrates the release of one that is: Lisa Ridgely and the Fainting Room's Wine in Bed EP, which the Milwaukee singer-songwriter and her band recorded at Shane Hochstetler's Howl Street Recordings with guest contributions from Chris DeMay and Field Report's Nick Berg. It's an assertive set of folk-rock that scans somewhere between Chris Isaak's reverb-thickened, late-night balladry and Sharon Van Etten's lacerating relationship postmortems.
Leon Redbone @ Shank Hall, 8 p.m.
Old-timey music is the new swing revival, with a small movement of young bands dressing up in kitschy, 1930s costumes and puffing out dusty jazz and ragtime songs. They could learn a thing or two, however, from Leon Redbone, the Canadian singer-songwriter who's been playing ragtime and Tin Pan Alley music for more than three decades now (a willful mystery, Redbone cites his birthday as Oct. 29, 1929, but that, of course, is an exaggeration). A former regular on “The Tonight Show With Johnny Carson,” Redbone hasn't shown much interest in recording new material—his last studio album was 2001's Any Time; the one before it came out in 1994—but he remains a road warrior, touring behind obscure, vaudevillian relics from the American songbook.
Milwaukee Underground Film Festival @ UWM Union Theatre, 7 p.m.
Now in its 12th year, the student-curated Milwaukee Underground Film Festival is an open call for all short films experimental, bizarre, nonlinear or otherwise obscure. Some of the entries in this year's lineup stretch the very definition of the word “film” (the program includes installations and at least a few pieces that request audience participation). The festival runs over three days, beginning at the UWM Union Theatre Friday, then continuing with two programs at the Walker's Point Center for the Arts Saturday and another two programs at UWM's Kenilworth Studios on Sunday.
Saturday, May 5
Beer and a Movie: The Goonies @ Turner Hall Ballroom, 5:30 p.m.
Critics were lukewarm on Richard Donner's adventure comedy The Goonies when it was released in 1985, ranking it as one of the lesser Steven Spielberg-produced family films of the era, but over time the fantastical tale of kids searching for treasure has become one of the more fondly remembered cultural touchstones of the Reagan era. Helping the film's legacy is its cast, which included pre-fame roles from Josh Brolin, Sean Astin and Corey Feldman. Donner has expressed interest in keeping the franchise alive, either through a sequel or a musical adaptation. Both prospects are probably pretty unlikely, frankly, but in the meantime Turner Hall Ballroom will screen this childhood favorite as part of its “Beer and a Movie” series. The movie begins at 7 p.m.; happy-hour specials begin at 5:30 p.m., including a $15 all-you-can-drink deal.
Sunday, May 6
Wishbone Ash @ Shank Hall, 8 p.m.
As sometimes happens to long-running classic rock bands that endure complicated lineup changes, there are now two competing touring formations of the seminal prog-rock group Wishbone Ash. The one that plays Shank Hall tonight is the more established, better regarded of the two, led by original guitarist Andy Powell. When Powell seized control of the band in the mid-'90s, he led the group in some unorthodox directions—infamously recording a pair of dance-inspired records that weirded out longtime fans—but he's since returned the group to its roots, recording a number of nostalgic live albums and a few back-to-basics prog albums, including last year's Elegant Stealth.
Tuesday, May 8
Incubus @ Riverside Theater, 7 p.m.
When Incubus first emerged as a cultural force in the late-'90s, they were lumped together with other alt-metal acts like Korn and Trapt, which made sense since, well, they were one of those acts. But the band never fell victim to the blind rage of some of nu-metal's worst offenders, and as they progressed, growing an audience with turn-of-the-century singles like “Drive” and “Wish You Were Here,” their sound grew softer and more thoughtful. As a result, their records have aged better than those of their Ozzfest peers. Released after a half-decade hiatus, the group's 2011 album If Not Now, When? is their most “mature” album by some distance, trading hard guitars for light acoustic ones and gentle synthesizer accents. It's the work of a band that's welcoming middle age with open arms.