This Week in Milwaukee: April 13-19, 2017
Thursday, April 13
Gucci Mane w/ Playboi Carti and Dreezy @ The Rave, 8 p.m.
Everybody loves a good comeback story, and last year Gucci Mane had the one to beat. After a years-long spiral of drug abuse and criminal behavior, the wildly influential Atlanta rapper returned from a long prison sentence sober, slimmer and infinitely happier, and he wasted no time returning to his usual frenzied recording schedule. He released three full length records in a matter of months, all of them solid to great—his new life as a self-identified “recovering drug addict” seems to have reinvigorated him creatively—as well as an EP with rising star Lil Uzi Vert. The eventful year also saw him lend a verse to one of last year’s biggest rap hits, Rae Sremmurd’s “Black Beatles,” perform a viral Tiny Desk Concert for NPR, and appear on “The Late Show with Jimmy Fallon” with 2 Chainz. He certainly seems to be making the most of his resurgence: This fall he’s set to release a book, The Autobiography of Gucci Mane.
GGOOLLDD w/ Tart @ Cactus Club, 8 p.m.
Fronted in dramatic, Stevie Nicks fashion by singer Margaret Butler, the Milwaukee electro-rock group GGOOLLDD were carrying themselves like stars from their very first shows. No other Milwaukee band seems quite so glamorous right now, but the group has the songs to back up their image, too. Their $TANDARD$ and For The Night EPs paired beautifully wistful sentiments with rafter-scaling electronics and pulsating beats, and their latest single, “Undercovers,” is one of their catchiest yet. To promote it the group has spent much of the last couple of months touring the country, but they’ll squeeze in a home town show with this bill, which they’ll share with the thrashy, neo-riot grrrl Detroit group Tart.
Friday, April 14
James McCartney w/ Luxi @ Shank Hall, 8 p.m.
Before you ask, yes, James McCartney is indeed the son of Paul McCartney. Given that lineage, then, it was probably inevitable that he’d turn to music. He spent his early years on the road with parents Paul and Linda, and later performed on a few of his father’s solo records. Sir Paul returned the favor by lending some piano, guitar and drums to James’ first album, 2013’s Me, but James’ most recent record seems designed to distance himself a bit from his dad’s shadow. Produced by Steve Albini, in full In Utero form, last year’s The Blackberry Train is a heavy, walloping rock record in the spirit of Nirvana and The Pixies. Paul doesn’t cameo this time around, but the record does feature at least one artist with some ties to the Fab Four: fellow Beatles offspring Dhani Harrison. Milwaukee electro-pop singer/producer Luxi will open this show.
Eric Church @ BMO Bradley Center, 8 p.m.
Country singer Eric Church carries himself like a rock star in concert—the guy is a fan of pyrotechnics—but in the studio he’s a far more complex creature. Without straying too far from commercial country radio’s norms, his records have flirted with honky tonk and outlaw country (Merle Haggard guested on his blockbuster 2006 debut Sinners Like Me), as well as rustic folk music. His latest record, 2015’s Mr. Misunderstood, may be his greatest commercial gambit yet, a record that looks as much to the mellow, low-key sounds of modern alt-country and Americana as it does to country radio. The record features guest appearances from blues singer Susan Tedeschi and Rhiannon Giddens of the old-time country band Carolina Chocolate Drops.
Wonder Uncovered @ Turner Hall Ballroom, 8 p.m.
Radio Milwaukee DJ Tarik Moody and De La Buena’s David Wake lead a massive cast of Milwaukee musicians, singers, rappers and artists through a reinterpretation of one of the greatest soul albums of all time at this latest installment of the Uncovered Series. Among the more than two dozen performers who will help them go deep on Stevie Wonder’s 1976 magnum opus Songs in the Key of Life are D’Amato, Siren, Thane, Q The Sun, Mark Waldoch, Amanda Huff, Carlos Adames, Alida LaCrosse and Running Rebels, who will join a lineup of musicians nearly as large as the one that Wonder recorded the album with.
STS9 w/ Jaw Gems @ The Riverside Theater, 8 p.m.
To say the Atlanta jamtronica band STS9 (Sound Tribe Sector 9) were ahead of the curve is a gigantic understatement. They were one of the first jam groups to predict the rise of electronic music as a massive live draw—way back in the late ’90s, long before jam bands and superstar DJs were routinely sharing festival lineups together. Over the years they’ve stretched their sounds in all manner of directions, flirting with hip-hop, dub reggae and post-rock, while touring with a blindingly majestic light show that, much like STS9’s music, is largely improvised.
Saturday, April 15
Howard Levy w/ Chris Seibold @ Linneman’s Riverwest Inn, 8 p.m.
When most people think of the harmonica, they understandably think of the blues, but that’s not the only genre the instrument lends itself to. As a co-founder of The Flecktones along with Béla Fleck, multi-instrumentalist Howard Levy has spent decades demonstrating how versatile the harp can be, applying it to play jazz, Latin and world music, while debuting new playing techniques that have allowed for a fuller harmonic range. At this show, Levy will be joined by another musician interested in pushing the boundaries of his instrument: Chris Seibold, a guitarist who spent years performing in Garrison Keillor’s traveling show.
Refugee Benefit Concert w/ Painted Caves and Marielle Allschwang @ Riverwest Public House, 8 p.m.
Too often in this country refugees are depicted as numbers on a page, or a political hot potato, rather than as actual people in need, but as this month’s horrifying chemical attack in Syria made clear, U.S. policies can have life or death implications for people displaced by war or persecution. Perhaps now more than ever it’s important for Americans to make it clear that refugees are welcome here, and the acts on this benefit concert at the Riverwest Public House hope to send that message loud and clear. Proceeds from this fundraiser, which will feature performances from the worldly Milwaukee rock band Painted Caves and singer-songwriter Marielle Allschwang, will support resettlement work from Lutheran Social Services of Wisconsin and Upper Michigan, as well as Diaconia Connections, an organization aiding refugees in Syria. The cover is just a $5 cash donation, though attendees are encouraged to donate more.