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This Week in Milwaukee: Dec. 12-18

Dec. 11, 2013
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Phoenix @ The Rave, 7 p.m., Dec. 12
Thursday, Dec. 12

Phoenix w/ Alt-J, Grouplove and Bastille @ The Rave, 7 p.m.

The knock against French alternative rockers is that they essentially write the same song over and over again. That criticism is more or less fair, but man, the songs “Lisztomania” and “1901” from 2009’s sterling Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix were some of that year’s brightest, most joyful alternative singles, and “Entertainment” and “Trying to Be Cool” from this year’s Bankrupt! may scan as lesser copies, but they’re still plenty enjoyable. The foot-tapping group headlines the first night of FM 102.1’s Big Snow Show tonight, supported by experimental indie-rockers Alt-J; the merrily shouty ensemble Grouplove; and Bastille, a British alternative trio whose single “Pompeii” has received steady airplay from 102.1.


Friday, Dec. 13

Klassik w/ Ragelife, Fresh Cut Collective and Mr. Wilder @ Fire on Water, 9 p.m.

Few Milwaukee rappers over the last couple of years have distinguished themselves more than Klassik, a jazz player by training who brings that genre’s subtle sensibilities to his hip-hop production—a sheik pastiche of light soul, R&B and electro. Today the rapper releases his latest album, YRP (Young Rising Phenom), online through his website, iamklassik.com, and will sell hard copies at this free release show featuring the party-rap ensemble Ragelife, the live hip-hop group Fresh Cut Collective and Chicago lyricist Mr. Wilder.


Maritime w/ Whips and Bad, Bad, Bad @ Cactus Club, 9:30 p.m.

Picking up where The Promise Ring left off, Maritime has emerged as a crown jewel of the Milwaukee rock scene, seasoned purveyors of the fuzzy, hooky guitar-pop that was abundant in the ’90s but has grown scarce over the past half-decade as indie-rock forgot such creature comforts. Tonight the veteran indie-rock group anchors a solid local bill featuring Whips, a crack rock ’n’ roll band including former members of Red Knife Lottery, and the inaugural performance from Bad, Bad, Bad, a new group featuring Decibully’s BJ Seidel, Def Harmonic’s J. Todd, and members of Plexi 3 and Proenemy.


The Revenge Society w/ The Polyps and I Am Dragon @ Cocoon Room, 8 p.m.

Post-hardcore has historically been a dude-heavy genre, but that’s not to say women can’t get in on the action. Singer Amber Ruthe cuts through the testosterone and offers her own viciously soulful take on the sound in the Milwaukee quartet The Revenge Society, lending a dangerous, sexual charge to the group’s new EP, Wolves on Parade. Recorded with Shane Olivo at Bobby Peru’s Recordings, the album includes a sly tribute to Jeffrey Dahmer, “Six Feet of Shade.” The band plays an EP release show tonight at Riverwest’s Cocoon Room.


Rachael Ray @ The Riverside Theater, 6:30 p.m.

Rachael Ray can cook a meal quicker than you can. She’s also a hell of a businesswoman. The celebrity chef has parlayed the popularity of her simple-premise Food Network TV show “30 Minute Meals” into a formidable media empire, including several other Food Network programs and specials, a library’s worth of cookbooks, a magazine and an eponymous daily talk show. For this live appearance, Ray will share behind-the-scenes tales from her TV programs along with some cooking tips. All tickets include a copy of her latest book, Week in a Day: Five Dishes-One Day.


Arctic Monkeys w/ Foals and NONONO @ The Rave, 7 p.m.

The Arctic Monkeys have grown their sound considerably since their inaugural album, 2006’s Whatever People Say I Am, That’s What I’m Not, the fastest-selling debut record in British history. The Sheffield quartet amplified and sped up their infectious dance-rock on their follow-up, 2007’s Favourite Worst Nightmare, keeping the hooks coming fast and furious. But the tempos slowed down considerably on 2009’s Humbug, which was marked by psychedelic guitars and post-punk moodiness. Some of the zip returned to their sound for 2011’s Suck It and See, but this year’s AM, the band’s first release since relocating to L.A., strikes a much more confident balance between boyish wonder of their debut and the stoner-rock muses they’ve taken to more recently. The group headlines the second night of FM 102.1’s Big Snow Show tonight.


Saturday, Dec. 14

Harmonica Blowout w/ Jim Liban, Steve Cohen and Lil’ Rev @ Linneman’s Riverwest

Inn, 8:30 p.m.

Singer, songwriter and blues harmonica player Jim Liban is known throughout the Midwest as one of the region’s foremost modern blues-harmonica stylists, but he has some tough competition locally. Tonight, at one of Linneman’s periodic Harmonica Blowout shows, he’ll be joined by two other Milwaukee harp masters. Steve Cohen has been sponsored by Hohner Inc., the world’s largest producer of harmonicas, for more than 25 years. He has played guitar and harmonica in multiple blues ensembles in addition to releasing more than half a dozen recordings of his own. Lil’ Rev stays busy with regular gigs around Milwaukee and at folk festivals all over the country, where he shares stories about country, blues, folk and ragtime music.


Monday, Dec. 16

The Sleighriders @ Shank Hall, 7 p.m.

For more than 30 years, a ragtag and ever-growing ensemble of Milwaukee-area musicians known as The Sleighriders has convened each holiday season for a charity jam session. This year the group will feature about 40 players, including local staples like Greg Koch, Steve Cohen, Bob Griffin, Xeno, Eddie Butts, Joe Hite, Randy Strumberger and Peter Nuemer. All proceeds from the show and charity auction will go to the disabled children’s charity Variety of Wisconsin.


Wednesday, Dec. 18

Fall Out Boy w/ Chris Wallace and Cash Cash @ The Rave, 8 p.m.

At a time when modern-rock was treading toward humorless post-grunge, Fall Out Boy enlivened the format with a theatrical flash of deft, power-pop-inspired emo. Over time, however, the group started playing into the very rock-star tropes that they seemed to mock. That especially seems to be the case with their new reunion album, Save Rock and Roll, which features appearances by Courtney Love, Big Sean and Elton John. The sound, for the most part, is big, blunt and processed, an over-the-top update of Bon Jovi’s cock-grabbing arena rock that takes the album title surprisingly seriously. It’s the most explicit embrace of pop yet from a band that seemed to take endless joy trolling detractors repelled by the medium. It says a lot about where the band’s allegiances now lie that after selling out the Rave this spring, tonight the band returns to headline a Christmas show thrown not by the local alternative station but instead by pop station FM 103.7.


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