May 21 - May 27
This Week in Milwaukee
Friday, May 22
Pennywise w/ Pepper, Authority Zero and Outlaw Nation @ The Rave, 8 p.m.
Pennywise spoke for all disillusioned punk bands in the mid-’90s when guitarist Fletcher Dragge literally vomited on alternative-radio DJ Riki Rachtman. Symbolically, though, alternative radio returned the favor, mostly ignoring the band while other punk bands of the era like Green Day, The Offspring and Bad Religion (whom Pennywise’s melodic punk most resembles) became radio mainstays. In spite of (or perhaps because of) not changing their sound in more than a decade, the group has aged well, garnering some of the best reviews of their career with late-period albums like 2005’s The Fuse and last year’s Reason to Believe.
Secret Chiefs 3 w/ The Demix @ Turner Hall Ballroom, 8 p.m.
Drawing upon musical styles from all over the globe, both traditional and obscure, Secret Chiefs 3 is the freewheeling project of composer/producer/ guitarist Trey Spruance, a Mr. Bungle and Faith No More veteran who’s embraced his spiritual side since parting with his old band mate Mike Patton. The group travels with a grab bag of instruments, relying heavily on a few particular ones, like the Indian Esraj and the Sarangi, which they often pair with new-age electronic blips and distorted heavy-metal guitar. The result is world music in spirit and avant-garde in execution.
Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation of America Fund-Raiser @ Art Bar, 8 p.m.
Art Bar hosts the latest in a series of local fund-raisers for the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation of America, a combination of art auction and concert. Artists will auction jewelry, blown-glass sculptures and paintings while the Milwaukee band Union Pulse plays its mix of country-spiked vintage alt-rock. Raffle prizes and free pizza from Transfer Pizzeria sweeten the deal.
Saturday, May 23
Snapdragon’s Seventh Anniversary w/ A Farewell Rescue @ The Rave, 5 p.m.
One of the most under-publicized success stories in the Milwaukee music scene, the local label Snapdragon has been cranking out radio-friendly punk, emo and ska albums for seven years, striking gold when it signed the Pennsylvania emo band A Farewell Rescue, which achieved regular MTV2 airtime with their single “Pretty Cut and Dry.” Snapdragon’s anniversary concerts are now regarded as one of the most vital annual emo events in the region, a small-scale Warped Tour for emo-punks in the know. This year’s lineup includes A Farewell Rescue, Saved by Stereo, LightsCameraAction!, Today We Fly, Gabriel Hunter, With Hours Waiting, Here’s to Homicide and Hagin.
Drunk’n Cipher @ Stonefly Brewery, 10 p.m.
The veteran Milwaukee rap act Malicious has been at it, in some form or another, since the mid- ’90s. Their easy, head-nodding beats and the good-cop, bad-cop dynamic between lyricists T.R.E. and Kimma-J still bears the stamp of that decade, evoking classic duos like Smif-N-Wessun and Camp Lo. Malicious returns to the Stonefly Brewery tonight for the 18th installment of its Drunk’n Cipher series, a bill they’ll split with Michael Mic Check, Forest City Lumberjacks, Speak Easy and Boombox Saintz.
Jamar Rogers @ The Times Cinema, 6:30 and 9:30 p.m.
Ardent “American Idol” viewers will recall that Danny Gokey wasn’t the only “Idol” contestant from Milwaukee this year. Gokey’s BFF Jamar Rogers also auditioned and made the initial cut, though he was unceremoniously booted before the finals while Gokey coasted on his early front-runner status. Rogers was the more commercially viable of the two, though, with a suave, limitless voice that brings to mind John Legend. He’s also a sharp songwriter, penning swooning R&B torch songs with a Burt Bacharachian sophistication. Rogers performs two concerts tonight in advance of an upcoming album.
Collections of Colonies of Bees w/ The Dim Suns @ The Cactus Club, 10 p.m.
Bon Iver’s Justin Vernon has the admirable, Kurt Cobain-like trait of tirelessly endorsing music he loves, and he’s saved some of his highest praise for Milwaukee’s Collections of Colonies of Bees, which he’s called his favorite band. “If the world was perfect, they would be as big as U2,” Vernon told Pitchforkmedia. Vernon has teamed up with the Milwaukee quintet behind a project called The Volcano Choir, with plans of releasing an album in late September. That record will undoubtedly fast-track the Milwaukee ensemble to the spotlight, but in all likelihood the group would have found their way there on their own, anyway. Demand for post-rock is at a high, and bloggers and publications of stature were already noting that Collections of Colonies of Bees’ variation of post-rock is as bright and enticing as any other out there.
Collections of Colonies of Bees Photo by Kathrine Berger
Sunday, May 24
Peace Through Music @ Linneman’s Riverwest Inn, 7 p.m.
In its eighth year, the annual Peace Through Music benefit for the Wisconsin Anti-Violence Effort and the Brady Campaign has attracted one of its fullest lineups yet. Among the hordes of area musicians who will be tackling John Lennon’s songbook to raise money for these gun-control organizations are The Lackloves, John Sieger, Mrs. Fun, The Form, The Danglers, melaniejane, Pat MacDonald, The Bugs, Heidi Spencer, Delta Routine, Matt Hendricks, Amy Rohan and many more.
Monday, May 25
Southern Culture on the Skids w/ Los Straitjackets @ Turner Hall Ballroom, 7:30 p.m.
Though Southern Culture on the Skids sing of mobile homes, box-sized motels, fried chicken and other phenomena mostly associated with the region south of the Mason-Dixon, the band would fit right in with Milwaukee’s punk- and rockabilly-loving music scene. Southern Culture’s latest album, Countrypolitan Favorites, collects 15 rowdy covers of songs best associated with George Jones, Roger Miller, T. Rex and The Kinks, and finds the group as comfortable as ever in their unpretentious, bar-band skin. Coming from an era when instrumental surf-rock bands all needed to have a kitschy hook—remember Man or Astroman?—co-headliners Los Straitjackets dress in Mexican wrestler masks, just for the fun of it.
Southern Culture on the Skids
Tuesday, May 26
Bluegrass Jam Session @ FIXX Coffee House, 7:15 p.m.
St. Francis hasn’t traditionally been known for its music scene, but since last year, FIXX Coffee House on 3558 E. Sivyer Ave. has quietly been hosting one of the most popular bluegrass open mics in southeastern Wisconsin. Spearheaded by James Brocksmith, banjoist for the Wisconsin Area Music Industry award-winning ensemble the Liberty Bluegrass Band, FIXX’s Bluegrass Jam Sessions on the second and fourth Tuesdays of the month have regularly drawn about 25 musicians a week, including some who drive all the way from Illinois to improvise with likeminded players.
Wednesday, May 27
Murder Junkies w/ Brass Tacks and Self Destruckt @ Vnuk’s Lounge, 8:30 p.m.
The Murder Junkies were the final band of the feces-eating, self-mutilating punk icon GG Allin, touring with him from his 1991 release from prison (where he’d been held on charges of torturing a woman) until the overdose that killed him in 1993. The Murder Junkies continue to exist as an Allin tribute act, with original drummer Donald “Dino Sex” Sachs (once infamous for his onstage nudity) and bassist Merle “Pinkie” Allin, who has dedicated his life to celebrating his older brother’s transgressive legacy. He sells GG Allin videos and memorabilia when he isn’t touring with The Murder Junkies.