This Week in Milwaukee: May 11-May 17, 2017
Thursday, May 11
Milwaukee Psych Fest V @ multiple locations
The music featured at the annual Milwaukee Psych Fest isn’t quite as niche as the noise and electronic music featured at some of the city’s other annual festivals, but it lends itself to a fervent following none the less. For listeners looking for a fix of psych-rock, stoner metal, freak-folk or experimental rap, this eclectic three-day showcase provides one hell of a fix. The festival’s biggest year yet kicks off Thursday night with a bill at Boone & Crockett (yes, the taco truck will be open in the back) featuring Heaven’s Gateway Drugs, Dead Feathers, The Harlequins and Moon Rats, among others. The festival moves to the Cactus Club Friday night for a bill topped by Holy Wave, L.A. Witch and Mr. Elevator, and then prepares for a very long day at Company Brewing, featuring nearly two dozen acts playing both indoor and outdoor stages starting at noon, with highlights including Kikagaku Moyo, Ancient River, Flavor Crystals, Floorian, Plastic Crimewave Syndicate, Chatham Rise, Def Harmonic and Calliope. Individual passes are available for each day, or a $40 pass covers the whole thing and includes a limited edition double-disc compilation.
Friday, May 12
ZULUZULUU w/ Foreign Goods, Fivy and DJ Tarik Moody @ Company Brewing, 10 p.m.
From Prince to the Rhymesayers collective to Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis, Minneapolis has long had a rich tradition of R&B and hip-hop music. The futurist soul group ZULUZULUU feels like the logical extension of all those sounds—a proggy, futurist, Afro-centric amalgam of sounds and styles spanning jazz, soul, hip-hop, reggae and electronica. The Twin Cities group’s latest release lays out their influences: The Cover Up mixtape features spacey updates of songs by artists including DJ Quik, The O’Jays, Bootsy Collins and De La Soul.
Saturday, May 13
Pabst Milwaukee Brewery Grand Opening Street Festival @ Juneau Avenue, 1 p.m.
This spring the Pabst celebrates the long-anticipated opening of its new brewery with one of the city’s first major warm-weather outdoor festivals. The brewery will host a variety of live music throughout the day on Juneau Avenue between 10th and 11th streets, with a cast of top-shelf headliners including IshDARR, Masked Intruder, New Age Narcissism (featuring Lex Allen, Siren and Lorde Fredd33), Hugh Masterson, Abby Jeanne and D’Amato. There will also be live paintings, screen printing, games and—of course—beer.
Brett Newski w/ Claire Kelly @ Shank Hall, 8 p.m.
Hard-touring Milwaukee singer-songwriter has a knack for lighthearted songs about the travails of life, but if his latest album is any indication, all those years trying to make a living off of music have taken a toll on him. The Worst of Brett Newski: Songs to Sink the American Dream is filled with wry critiques of the modern music industry, with chipper songs with titles like “I Don’t Wanna Go To SXSW” and “Fuck You Spotify” (two sentiments that plenty of bands can relate to). Newski also takes shots at the vapid pretty boys of modern country radio on the single “Bro Country,” singing of waxed chests, pre-ripped jeans and watery domestic beer. “I’m an alpha-male country star who exists to be replaced,” he croons. The lyrics may be cynical, but the tunes are as spirited and uptempo as ever.
Joel McHale @ The Pabst Theater, 8 p.m.
Most people probably don’t think of Joel McHale first and foremost as a stand-up comedian, but as an actor in several cult franchises—most prominently as the lead in the geekishly beloved sitcom “Community”—he’s guaranteed a built-in audience for just about anything he does. The former host of “The Soup” has been busy since “Community” ended just short of six seasons and a movie fans had been clamoring for. He’s currently starring in a sitcom called “The Great Indoors” on your grandparents’ favorite channel, CBS, and more intriguingly later this year he’ll be appearing in A Futile and Stupid Gesture, Netflix’s biopic about the rise of National Lampoon. He’ll be playing, of all people, his former “Community” co-star Chevy Chase.
Legends of Hip-Hop @ The Riverside Theater, 8 p.m.
Hip-hop nostalgia package bills have been around for a while now, but so far most of them have focused on acts from the rap’s neon-colored, late ’80s/early ’90s era, with names like Salt-N-Pepa and Rob Base. This one, though, looks to the harder-edged sounds of the later ’90s and early ’00s, with a lineup that includes Scarface, 8Ball and MJG, Mystikal, Da Brat and Tela. Here’s hoping they’ve all aged gracefully.
Neil Hamburger @ Club Garibaldi, 8 p.m.
An over-the-top creation right out of a late-night Adult Swim skit, with his greasy comb over, cheap tuxedo, poor comic timing and frequent, phlegmy coughing fits, Neil Hamburger’s sendup of bad stand-ups should be almost as tired as the bad stand-ups he’s mocking. But Hamburger’s shtick is really just a vehicle for his subversive jabs at celebrity targets, jokes that would be funny regardless of how tired their targets are or how clumsily they’re delivered. “Why does Col. Sanders keep the 11 herbs and spices of Kentucky Fried Chicken’s original recipe a secret?” he pondered for one old joke. “Because he’s ashamed of them.”
Sunday, May 14
Bush w/ The Kickback @ The Riverside Theater, 8 p.m.
Though it sold like gangbusters, Bush’s 1994 debut, Sixteen Stone, was derided by critics as a shameless attempt to polish grunge-rock for the masses. That feedback must have weighed heavily on frontman Gavin Rossdale, because he spent much of his subsequent career vying for critical credibility, working with esteemed engineer Steve Albini on Bush’s 1996 follow-up, Razorblade Suitcase, going electronic on Bush’s difficult third album, The Science of Things, and starting a band with Helmet’s Page Hamilton during Bush’s hiatus last decade. After so many failed experiments, it’s something of a relief, then, that Bush’s recent reunion albums have been unabashed grunge-pop, cut from the same cloth as Sixteen Stone. Fans of tabloid drama may particularly want to check out their just-released Black and White Rainbows. It’s Rossdale’s first album since his divorce from Gwen Stefani, and he’s rarely sounded more emo.
Tuesday, May 16
The 1975 w/ Pale Waves and Colouring @ The Rave, 7:30 p.m.
Few 2016 rock albums were more divisive among critics that The 1975’s I Like It When You Sleep, for You Are So Beautiful yet So Unaware of It, the sophomore full-length from the lively Manchester quartet. Even the title seemed to read like a warning, an explicit admission that this music will not be for everyone, but for those who could get on its wavelength, the awards were abundant: The music was bright and poppy like little else on alternative radio, and the band’s gift for pairing dramatic rock ’n’ roll with infectious dance pop remained unparalleled. The band has announced a follow-up album, but fans will have to wait for it: Music For Cars won’t be released until 2018.