This Week in Milwaukee: April 20-26, 2017
Friday, April 21
Chris Tucker @ The Riverside Theater, 8 p.m.
Few actors are more selective about their projects than Chris Tucker. Before appearing on screen in 2012’s Oscar-winning Silver Linings Playbook, the comedian hadn’t appeared in a film outside of his lucrative Rush Hour franchise, and since then he’s done just one movie, the 2016 war drama Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk. Tucker is every bit as selective about his stand-up comedy as he is his acting roles. He hadn’t done live shows for more than a decade before he returned to stand-up in 2011, and it was only in 2015 that he released his first-ever stand-up special, Chris Tucker Live, through Netflix. Now in his mid-40s, he’s a good deal more polished than the stick-thin, fast-talking comedian Friday introduced the world too, but he’s still as animated as ever, and he still delivers his wild punchlines in quick, speedy jabs.
Great Lake Swimmers w/ Brooke Annibale @ The Back Room at Colectivo, 8 p.m.
Folky Canadian indie-rockers Great Lake Swimmers never had a big, blog-breakthrough moment the way that many of their peers did in ’00s, but they never burned out the way many of those same acts did, either. Instead the group has stayed the course over a run of six consistently solid records that have drawn from Neil Young’s folk rock, R.E.M.’s jangle pop, and the slow mood music of bands like the Red House Painters. Their latest album is 2015’s A Forest of Arms, an environmentally minded record inspired by singer/songwriter Tony Dekker’s involvement with the World Wildlife Fund.
Hi/Jack w/ Breaker and DATRF @ Frank’s Power Plant, 9 p.m.
There are two kinds of two-piece rock bands: The ones that try to sound much bigger than two musicians, and the ones that don’t try to be anything other than what they are. The blistering Milwaukee rock duo Hi/Jack fall solidly into that later camp. With their stripped-down guitars/drums setup, the group conjures the raw spirit of ’70s rock ’n’ roll on their new album, Turn It To Ten, looking to acts like Aerosmith and Alice Cooper for inspiration. Every song makes good on the volume promised by the album title. They’ll share this release show for the record with openers Breaker and DATRF.
Saturday, April 22
Descendents w/ Radkey and The Pukes @ The Rave, 8 p.m.
What a run it’s been for Descendents singer Milo Aukerman. Since famously leaving his legendary punk band to go to college—a decision immortalized by on the group’s iconic 1982 debut Milo Goes to College—Aukerman has come and gone from the group numerous times, while juggling a career as a scientist (he conducted research at the University of Wisconsin before becoming an adjunct professor at the University of Delaware). These days he’s not as interested in biochemistry as he used to be. Last year he opted to leave science behind to commit full time to Descendents, and in the wake of last year’s Hypercaffium Spazzinate, their seventh album and their first in more than a decade, the group has lined up an aggressive tour schedule. Credit the band this: They’re acting their age. On the new album they write about the often ugly realities of life as a 50-something, with songs about gaining weight, raising kids and struggling to hold down healthy romantic relationships. The group once titled an album I Don’t Want to Grow Up, and now you can understand why.
Garry Tallent w/ Shun Ng @ Shank Hall, 8 p.m.
Garry Tallent’s career hasn’t slowed down any with age. For more than four decades, Tallent has been the bassist for Bruce Springsteen’s E-Street Band, a band that tours almost as much these days as they used to during the ’70s and ’80s peak. During his time away from the band he also handled production for artists like Sonny Burgess, Steve Earle, Steve Forbert and Robert Earl Keen Jr. It was only this year, though, that Tallent got around to recording an album of his own. His debut Break Time looks back to the sounds of his youth, drawing from early rock ’n’ roll, New Orleans R&B, rockabilly and pop—it’s hardly a major work, but it’s an entertaining glimpse at the music that inspired him. He’s currently on his first tour as a solo artist, playing club venues a good deal smaller than the sprawling arenas he’s used to playing with the E-Street Band.
Record Store Day @ Multiple Locations
Record Store Day began as an annual promotion designed to drive traffic back to brick-and-mortar music stores with special releases, but over the years, cities have put their own local spin on the event. That’s especially true here in Milwaukee, where the April event has become something of a holiday for local music fans. Local shops are going all in this year. At Acme Records in Bay View, there will be eight hours of performances from artists including Milo, Black Lake Ensemble, Red Stuff, Fox Face and Slow Walker, while the East Side Exclusive Company will have WMSE DJs spinning throughout the day. Rush-Mor Records, Bullseye Records and Off The Beaten Path will all have sales of their own, while WMSE will celebrate the release of a live Direct Hit! 7-inch, Live From WMSE, Direct Hit!, recorded at the station that year (Direct Hit! will play a pair of shows, including an all ages one, at Cactus Club that night to celebrate that 7-inch and the re-release of their 2011 debut album Domesplitter).
Sunday, April 23
37th Annual Wisconsin Area Music Industry Awards @ Turner Hall Ballroom, 7 p.m.
Bands and musicians from around the state will be honored with awards in dozens of categories at for the Wisconsin Area Music Industry’s latest awards ceremony in Milwaukee. This year’s lineup includes performances from The Prince Experience, The Pukes, This Time Tomorrow All-Star Band, Scott E. Berendt and The Us Project, Bella Cain, Green Screen Kid and NO/NO, as well as tribute to two legendary Wisconsin musicians who recently passed away, jazz singer Al Jarreau and funk drummer Clyde Stubblefield.
Monday, April 24
Twinsmith w/ Paper Holland @ Cactus Club, 9 p.m.
While many listeners can’t help but associate Saddle Creek with the mid-’00s MySpace era, a time when indie rock and emo were at peak popularity and label founder Conor Obsert was being hailed as the voice of a generation, the label is still kicking, and it’s actually been on something of a hot streak lately. Newer acts like Big Thief, Hop Along and Icky Blossoms have all released fantastic records through the label, as has the Omaha quartet Twinsmith (albeit without attracting the same level of attention as some of their label peers). The group’s latest disc is 2015’s Alligator Years, a collection of bright, peppy rock with shades of The Clean, MGMT and Vampire Weekend. They’ll share this bill with a similarly poppy indie rock group from Milwaukee, Paper Holland.
Wednesday, April 26
The Silversun Pickups w/ Kiev @ The Rave, 7:30 p.m.
Los Angeles’ Silversun Pickups wormed their way onto alternative radio with their slithery 2006 hit “Lazy Eye,” an A.D.D.-riddled update on the sounds of the Smashing Pumpkins and Modest Mouse that sounded absolutely fantastic over the airwaves. In the years since they’ve expanded their sound without losing the basic chemistry behind that hit. Caked in tension and paranoia, their sophomore album Swoon drew from the eerie spirit of horror movie scores (which they produced with Citizen King’s Dave Cooley). Some of that moodiness has carried through their subsequent releases, including 2012’s Neck of the Woods, and 2015’s Better Nature, which like so many recent rock albums downplays the guitars a little bit in favor of more prominent keyboards. If Smashing Pumpkins had been around in the ’80s instead of the ’90s, they might have made a record that sounded like this.