May 7 - May 13
This Week in Milwaukee
Thursday, May 7
D. Rider @ The Cactus Club, 9 p.m.
Those who found U.S. Maple’s subverting of already subversive Jesus Lizard-styled noise-rock a touch too unnerving will take little solace in Todd Rittmann’s new project, D. Rider. Picking up where U.S. Maple left off on 2003’s ode-to-male-orgasm Purple on Time, D. Rider’s jarring debut album Mother of Curses continues Rittmann’s creepy dissertation on sexuality. It’s not a record for the queasy. With its gruff vocals, layers of industrial clatter and general air of violence and tension, it seems the sex Rittmann sings of may not always be consensual. D. Rider shares this bill with openers Bobby Conn, The Chain and Monica Bou Bou.
Friday, May 8
Group of the Altos w/ The Off Key and Year of the Scavenger @ Cactus Club, 10 p.m.
Though they share a guitarist (Daniel Spack) and a similar love of instrumental post-rock with Collections of Colonies of Bees, Milwaukee’s Group of the Altos flaunts a far deeper kitchen sink than that quintet, working trumpet, cello, saw and clarinet into suites that trend darker than Colonies of Bees’ sprightly instrumentals. The group’s signature composition is “Rake Rasp and Ruin,” a lengthy, ever-shifting dirge that plays as if pieced together from scraps of Slint, Mogwai and Rachel’s. The openers on this bill are pulled from opposite ends of the city’s volume spectrum: The Off Key, the brainchild of Juniper Tar’s Aaron Schleicher, traffics in hushed folk; Year of the Scavenger in fierce post-hardcore.
Saturday, May 9
Salt Creek @ Linneman’s Riverwest Inn, 9:30 p.m.
Thanks in large part to the jam scene’s interest, bluegrass has been stretched in some very untraditional directions over the last decade. Milwaukee’s Salt Creek is among those breaking the unwritten conventions of the genre, but they don’t abide strictly by the rules of jam music, either, relying instead on the interplay of two musicians born into different schools: banjoist Colin O’Brien, a classically trained guitarist, and bassist Guy Fiorentini, who cut his teeth in Milwaukee’s ’90s punk scene. The quartet, which also leans on the easy guitar work of Jim Eannelli and the unusually prominent (at least for bluegrass) drums of Eric Radloff, tonight celebrates the release of its latest album, Live!
Eric Mire Band @ Stonefly Brewery, 10 p.m.
Though Spooky Love is the Eric Mire Band’s debut album, the Milwaukee group’s work will be familiar to anyone who checked out last year’s well-received Melissa Czarnik album, Strawberry Cadillac, on which the Eric Mire Band played. Spooky Love shares that record’s flair for breezy, chilled-out live hip-hop, touching on Digable Planets, Citizen Cope, Spearhead and just about any other act that’s melded acoustic instruments and verses about positivity. The Eric Mire Band shares tonight’s CD release show with Czarnik, Sarah Fierek and rapper A.P.R.I.M.E.
III Insanity @ The Rave, 8 p.m.
The X-Ecutioners were perhaps the most promising of all outfits born of the ’90s turntablism movement which contended that DJs could build great songs—and even great albums—from just breaks and samples, even without rappers. Their 1997 debut, X-Pressions, cemented their legacy, but a double-edged collaboration with Linkin Park in 2002 brought them commercial fortune while unfairly pigeonholing them as peons of the rap-rock movement. They dissolved soon afterward, but the bulk of the group, including de facto leader Rob Swift, who has enjoyed a rich solo career, have regrouped under the banner Ill Insanity. Ill Insanity shares tonight’s crowded bill with countless other DJs, many of them from the world of house, including Robbie Rivera, Colette, Reid Speed, Delta 9, Trillbass, Paul Anthony & ZXX, DJ Rozz, Chris Grant, Matthew K and Adonis TFU.
Mogwai w/ Women @ Turner Hall Ballroom, 8 p.m.
As the once novel soft/loud/soft/loud recipe for instrumental post-rock threatened to become too formulaic, genre pioneers began retooling their sound mid-decade. For Glasgow’s Mogwai, this meant abandoning some of the austere, thundering compositions of yore in favor of shorter, brighter and more varied songs on 2006’s Mr. Beast and last year’s The Hawk Is Howling, a shift toward accessibility that endeared the group to new fans while predictably alienating some old ones, particularly those who lionize Mogwai’s epic, unrelenting 1997 full-length debut, Young Team.
Sunday, May 10
John Brown’s Body w/ Passafire and Dub District @ Miramar Theatre, 9 p.m.
The American reggae act John Brown’s Body had been for years incorporating dub and electronic flourishes into their otherwise traditional roots sound before 2006, when bassist Scott Palmer succumbed to cancer. That tragedy triggered a slew of lineup changes, including the defection of singer Kevin Kinsella, whose successor, Elliot Martin, doesn’t share Kinsella’s regard for roots reggae. Under Martin’s command, John Brown’s Body have beefed up their jam credentials, trending toward a spacey, genre-hopping pastiche that’s more Sound Tribe Sector 9 than Toots and the Maytals on their latest album, 2008’s Amplify, which embraces hip-hop, funk and pop.
John Brown’s Body
Monday, May 11
The Soul of John Black w/ Bryan Cherry Band @ Turner Hall Ballroom, 7:30 p.m.
As a sideman and session player, John Bigham has played with Everlast, Eminem, Miles Davis and, most prominently, Fishbone, with whom he toured for the better part of a decade. Bigham’s recordings with his own project The Soul of John Black are predictably polished, then, but The Soul of John Black enjoyment of them will depend on the listeners’ tolerance for Bigham’s thickly laid-on hip-hop bluesman persona, “a cool motherfunker” intent to “lay some game.” Those who can get past it will enjoy some genuinely inspired updates on the old Sly and the Family Stone funk-rock formula, while those who can’t can easily be forgiven. The Soul of John Black plays tonight as part of the Turner Hall Ballroom’s free “No Buck Show” series.
The Soul of John Black
Tuesday, May 12
It’s Me or the Dog @ The Pabst Theater, 7:30 p.m.
Though the disapproving scowl and vaguely dominatrix-like attire she wears on her Animal Planet program “It’s Me or the Dog” may suggest otherwise, Victoria Stilwell is a big softy at heart, preaching a positive, reward-based dog training method that’s focused as much on training delinquent dog owners as it is their pets. She’ll outline her methodology and illustrate it with local shelter dogs during this appearance before taking questions. To read an interview with Stilwell in which the British T.V. personality outlines her opposition to the harsher, potentially dangerous training techniques of a certain other celebrity dog trainer—hint: he’s on the National Geographic Channel—visit ExpressMilwaukee.com.
India.Arie w/ Laura Izibor @ The Riverside Theater, 7:30 p.m.
If Erykah Badu is neo-soul’s breathless visionary, recording difficult, sprawling albums with fierce ties to hip-hop, then India.Arie is neo-soul’s friendly public face, the John Mellencamp-collaborating, adult-contemporary-friendly Grammy favorite who prefers her albums go down as easily as possible for as broad an audience as possible. That’s not to say India.Arie can’t stretch out a bit, however. Though her new Testimony: Vol. 2, Love & Politics isn’t nearly as mercurial as Badu’s sprawling New Amerykah Part One, it finds time for some unlikely guests, including rapper MC Lyte, Afro-pop singer Dobet Gnahore and reggae crooner Gramps Morgan.