This Week in Milwaukee: May 15-21
Thursday, May 15
Tracy Morgan @ The Pabst Theater, 7 p.m.
For seven years on “Saturday Night Live,” actor and comedian Tracy Morgan specialized in offbeat, bizarre and sometimes mentally ill characters, playing them not just for easy laughs but also for audience sympathy. An infamously forgettable sitcom on NBC in 2003 cast Morgan as a cookie-cutter family man, but a scene-stealing supporting role on “30 Rock” in 2006 reinvigorated his career, allowing him to tap the weird energy he displayed on “SNL.” It certainly helped, of course, that Morgan was essentially playing a caricature of himself. Morgan has stayed in the spotlight since that show ended, most recently reprising his role as Luiz the bulldog in the animated kid’s movie Rio 2.
Huey Lewis and the News @ Potawatomi Bingo Casino, 8 p.m.
A band that recalls the ’80s in the best way possible, Huey Lewis and the News ran the charts with singles like “Hip to Be Square” and the Back to the Future tie-ins “The Power of Love” and “Back in Time.” The group was so indelibly associated with fun movie soundtrack songs that Seth Rogen recruited them to contribute the theme to 2008’s Pineapple Express. In 2010, the band showed a more serious side on its ninth studio album, Soulsville, a tribute to Stax Records that draws from some of the less obvious corners of the label’s songbook. (Also Friday, May 16.)
Friday, May 16
Rodriguez w/ Wilsen @ The Riverside Theater, 7 p.m.
We’re living in a golden age of music documentaries, and few recent ones have been more moving than 2012’s Searching For Sugar Man, an Academy Award winner that detailed the search for Sixto Rodriguez, a folk singer who had long been rumored as dead. Rodriguez released a couple of underperforming albums in the ’70s before disappearing, only to find a massive audience over time in South Africa, unbeknownst to him. The film introduced Rodriguez to a belated following in America, where he is now enjoying the stardom that eluded him in the’70s. It also inspired Rodriquez to begin writing new material.
Slayer w/ Suicidal Tendencies and Exodus @ the Rave, 7:30 p.m.
While many of the metal bands formed in the early ’80s eventually broke up or became novelty acts, Slayer have lost little of their vitality and relevance with age, and their late-period music has continued to serve their legacy well. Slayer’s most recent album, 2009’s serial killer-themed World Painted Blood, garnered strong reviews from the metal faithful, and it marked the end of an era. It was the band’s last album predating the death of guitarist Jess Hanneman and the dismal of drummer Dave Lombardo, who was replaced by Paul Bostaph. The band is currently at work on a follow-up to Blood, eying early next year as a tentative release date.
Street Eats @ Catalano Square, 4 p.m.
Join the Shepherd Express as it hosts Street Eats, its mobile food tasting event in the Historic Third Ward’s Catalano Square. Once again the Shepherd will shut down the street for an evening of specialty food, cold Lakefront Brewery beer and live music. Among the more than 20 vendors are Yellow Bellies, Urban Caveman, Beef E’s, Gouda Girls, The Fast Foodie LLC, The Frozen Cup, StreetZa and Velspresso. Attendees can buy tickets to sample as much or as little food as they like. Can’t make this weekend’s event? Additional Street Eats will be held Aug. 1 in conjunction with NEWaukee’s Urban Island Beach Party at Lakeshore State Park, and Sept. 12 at Catalano Square.
Saturday, May 17
MELT w/ DJ Abilities, Destro, RichardGriecoSuave, Christian Shebesta, Tombz and The Demix @ Stonefly Brewery, 10 p.m.
A two-time winner of the storied DMC Regional turntable battles, Minneapolis’ DJ Abilities rose to prominence along with the city’s Rhymesayers label, while lending his skills to records by rappers like El-P and Mr. Lif. His most memorable material, though, came with fellow Minnesotan Eyedea, a gig that was tragically cut short following that rapper’s overdose death in 2010. For this show, Abilities will showcase some of his solo material—possibly including cuts from his 2012 album Now! That’s What I Call Fuck Off—as part of Milwaukee’s MELT experimental electronic music series.
Jason Derulo w/ Cash Cash and Guy Sebastian @ The Rave, 8 p.m.
One-man boy band Jason Derulo enjoyed a solid run of pop hits in 2009 and 2010, including the Top 40 staples “In My Head” and “Whatcha Say” from his self-titled debut. And then after that, he struggled. His 2011 album Future History underperformed, and for a while it seemed like the singer’s moment in the spotlight had come to an end. That was before his loopy R&B single “Talk Dirty” belatedly caught fire on the charts this year, giving Derulo his first top 10 hit since 2010’s “Ridin’ Solo.” To capitalize on his renewed momentum, last month his label reissued his 2013 album Tattoos under a new title. That title? Talk Dirty, of course. Tonight Derulo headlines KISS FM’s KISS the Summer Hello concert.
Man with a Camera @ Shank Hall, 9 p.m.
After leaving The Band Snopek, musicians Byron Andrew Wiemann III, Jim Gorton and Mike Lucas carried on in a new outfit, the prog-rock-inspired Man With a Camera. Wiemann moved to Europe to pursue a solo career, so the band doesn’t play as much as they used to, but they still make time for at least one Milwaukee show a year when he returns home. This show promises to cull material from the band’s albums and include a few covers.
Universal Love Band @ Club Timbuktu, 6 p.m.
If they played only instrumentals and didn’t sing in English, Milwaukee’s Universal Love Band could be mistaken for a group from somewhere on Africa’s western shore. Relentless Afro-pop rhythms take center stage on their latest album, World Be Free, while the band’s name spells out the message of their lyrics. ULB’s album release party is meant to reflect a sense of community with displays of flower art in the East Indian tradition by Sharada Gudigar and tile-making for the Center Street Peace Post directed by ceramic artist Muneer Bahauddeen. African food will be served. There is no cover but a free-will donation is encouraged.
Monday, May 19
Aziz Ansari @ The Riverside Theater, 7 and 9:30 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. On his breakout comedy special Intimate Moments for a Sensual Evening, Ansari scored big laughs by riffing on pop-culture figures like Kanye West and R. Kelly, and on its follow-up, Dangerously Delicious, he mined laughs by dishing on his encounters with a far less likely comic figure, Jay-Z. On his latest set, the Netflix-produced Buried Alive, Ansari shifted away from pop culture to share his take on relationships, marriage and parenthood. His two shows tonight at the Riverside Theater promise an all-new set of standup.