This Week in Milwaukee
Farms in Trouble, Lisa Lampanelli, The Hood Internet, Lewis Black and Cheap Trick
Friday, Dec. 4
Farms in Trouble w/ Crappy Dracula, Fahri @ The Cactus Club, 10 p.m.
Farms in Trouble’s messy, lo-fi pop invites instant comparisons to early Guided by Voices, though the group is even more free-spirited, pasting together fuzzy song pastiches with an anything-can-be-an-instrument-if-you-turn-it-into-one mentality (they’ve been known to play bottles and bike spokes). In the studio this Milwaukee group, which features members of The Candeliers and The Trusty Knife, records straight to cassette and then adds (sometimes literally) bells and whistles on a computer. In concert, though, they take on a different form, filling the stage with their own miniature indie-pop orchestra (an orchestra that, granted, rarely plays songs that break the two-minute mark).
Lisa Lampanelli @ The Riverside Theater, 8 p.m.
A brassy and foul-mouthed comedienne, Lisa Lampanelli is probably most recognizable from her frequent appearances on Comedy Central’s celebrity roasts, which make it clear how she earned the nickname “the queen of mean,” but there’s more to Lampanelli than saying terrible things about the likes of William Shatner and Pamela Anderson. She’s also an adept live performer with a talent for Don Ricklesesque one-liners and a brazen willingness to break just about any social taboo. Comedy may be considered somewhat of a boys’ club, but Lampanelli’s vigorously blue material proves that a lady can sling as much filth as humorously as any man.
The Blow Pops w/ Jeff Murphy and Ward @ Shank Hall, 8 p.m.
The parade of reunited local bands that Milwaukee has enjoyed all year continues tonight with a performance from The Blow Pops, the early-’90s group that remains revered by a small cult of power-pop enthusiasts. The group’s two albums, 1993’s Charmed, I’m Sure and 1994’s American Beauties, re-imagine a more psychedelic version of The Beatles. Long out of print, they’ve become collector’s items, commanding well over $50 a copy online, where power-pop fans continue to spread word of the group.
Saturday, Dec. 5
The Hood Internet @ MSOE Todd Wehr Auditorium, 9 p.m.
The Hood Internet’s M.O. reads like a cheap formula for big Internet traffic: Take a popular rap or R&B single and pair it with a cult indie-rock song. This Chicago duo seldom plays mash-ups for cheap novelty, though, and instead creates clever new compositions from its source material. On their latest free download mixtape, The Mixtape Volume Four, the duo pairs Drake’s “Best I Ever Had” with The Rapture’s “House of Jealous Lovers,” pits Dead Prez against Grizzly Bear, weds Passion Pit and Juvenile, and once again shows their love for the great R. Kelly, this time by pairing him with Sally Shapiro.
Eyedea and Abilities w/ Themselves and Def Harmonic @ The Cactus Club, 10 p.m.
After a five-year studio hiatus, Rhymesayers Records’ resident rapper/DJ duo Eyedea and Abilities reunited this year for a new album, By the Throat, that lives up to its title, putting a harder edge on the duo’s dexterous sound, with Eyedea spitting rapid verses that draw on his background as a battle rapper while DJ Abilities takes the opportunity to show off a bit, scratching with impunity. They share tonight’s bill with the Anticon duo Themselves, who this year also released a new record, CrownsDown, a difficult listen filled with the kind of experimental, minimalist electronic beats expected of the label.
Hubert Sumlin and The Nighthawks @ The Miramar Theatre, 8 p.m.
Born in the early ’30s, Hubert Sumlin spent his formative years soaking up the original Delta blues of Robert Johnson, Blind Lemon Jefferson and Son House. He built his reputation as a masterful, nuanced guitar player when he was hand-picked by Howlin’ Wolf for a spot in Wolf’s backing band, accompanying the blues legend live, as well as on a string of classic recordings for Chicago’s Chess Records label. Sumlin’s legend grew when a new generation of guitar wizards, including Eric Clapton, Jimmy Page and Jimi Hendrix, acknowledged him as a direct influence. The ’70s blues revival may have faded into memory, but Sumlin continues doing what he knows best, wowing audiences with unimpeachable guitar skills, as well as a few tales from his long and storied career.
Tribute to Brian Barney @ Linneman’s Riverwest Inn, 8 p.m.
Friends and band mates tonight pay tribute to Brian Barney, the local musician and longtime music writer for the Shepherd Express and Maximum Ink, better known to some by his stage name Lane Klozier, who passed away suddenly last month. Among those performing to raise money for his family are members of The Buggs, Guido’s Racecar, Johnny Toymaker and Pedestrian.
R.A.S. Movement @ Fire on Water, 10 p.m.
Fire on Water plans on becoming Water Street’s latest live music destination, and the bar gets the ball rolling tonight when the African-accented reggae band R.A.S. Movement inaugurates its new stage. Though the group is a new addition to Milwaukee’s reggae scene, it’s made up of plenty of veteran players, including members past and present of King Solomon, Sindoolaa and Stealin’ Strings. Together, they play a rootsy mix of dub, lovers rock and dancehall.
Holiday Artisan Market @ Discovery World, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
For those looking for unique holiday gifts, Discovery World’s Holiday Artisan Market gives shoppers the chance not only to buy local, but also straight from the source. More than two-dozen designers will be selling their wares at this free, two-day event, offering everything from handmade jewelry, organic body-care products, screen-printed T-shirts, fabric watches, luxury soaps, folk art and whimsical stuffed monsters. There will also be live music, artist demonstrations and free gift-wrapping. (Also Sunday, Dec. 6.)
Lewis Black @ The Riverside Theater, 8 p.m.
Breaking into the popular consciousness with his regular “Back in Black” segments on “The Daily Show with Jon Stewart,” comedian Lewis Black seemed to tap a bottomless well of anger and vitriol, like a funnier version of the “mad as hell and not going to take it anymore” Howard Beale rant from Sidney Lumet’s film Network. As the funnyman gained more exposure, it became apparent that there was more to Black than his inflamed political diatribes, and his longer stand-up specials revealed a man with as much vulnerability and political insight as rage. Although he regularly surfaces in supporting film roles and on television, Black’s real calling is performing live, which he does more than 200 nights out of the year, so expect a polished set—and a lot of yelling.
Tuesday, Dec. 8
Emilie Autumn @ Turner Hall Ballroom, 7:30 p.m.
An oddity that could only have been discovered by Courtney Love, Emilie Autumn is an industrial-goth-cabaret electric violinist who alternates between writing dainty odes to Victorian culture and cacophonous electro-clatter that romanticizes violence, death and suicide. Autumn’s latest album is the upcoming book/record combo, The Asylum for Wayward Victorian Girls, and its accompanying tour is a veritable burlesque show that promises plenty of corsets, costumes and possibly some fire-eating.
Wednesday, Dec. 9
Cheap Trick @ The Potawatomi Bingo Casino, 8 p.m.
Though their late-career sales haven’t matched those of some of the other goliaths of their era, Cheap Trick has stood the test of time better than most bands spawned by the ’70s hard-rock movement. Hits kept them popular through the ’80s; Steve Albini, Nirvana and Weezer kept them relevant well into the ’90s; and “Guitar Hero” and the dozens of pop-punk bands that have covered “Surrender” should guarantee the group renown for at least another generation. Of course, it also helps that the band never jumped the shark. Their 2006 album, Rockford, was a true highlight of their discography, rife with great songs that effortlessly capture the hard and sweet power-pop hooks that made their At Budokan-era hits so memorable, and the band’s latest album, understandably titled The Latest, flaunts enough new, psychedelic twists on the band’s classic sound to keep longtime fans engaged.