This Week in Milwaukee: Oct. 6-12
Thursday, Oct. 6
Alice Cooper @ Milwaukee Theatre, 7:30 p.m.
Especially for younger listeners who weren’t around to hear “School’s Out” upon its original release, it’s difficult to think of Alice Cooper without remembering his cameo appearance as the benevolent American history teacher in Wayne’s World. That scene, in which Cooper eloquently explains the Algonquin origins of “mill-e-wah-que,” perfectly reflects Cooper’s savvy dual nature: There’s Alice Cooper the over-the-top musical demigod whose shocking stage performance influenced the likes of GWAR and Marilyn Manson, and there’s Alice Cooper the self-effacing, camera-friendly entertainer. Both sides come out at Cooper’s live shows, which may not seem nearly as shocking as they did three decades ago, but still deliver plenty of fake blood, horror-themed theatrics and amiable silliness.
Buddy Guy @ Potawatomi Hotel & Casino, 8 p.m.
Even as he enters his 80s, Buddy Guy remains a sought-out collaborator for musicians like Stevie Ray Vaughan and Eric Clapton. There’s a good reason for that: They owe their careers to him. Guy invented the modern day blues-rock axeman. With all of the attention paid to his more high-voltage work, it can be very easy to overlook how talented a pure bluesman Guy can be. His 2010 album, Living Proof, affirmed him as not only one of the genre’s great guitarists, but also one of its great songwriters. One of his most explicitly autobiographical works, it also became his highest-charting album ever. He followed it up in 2013 with the soulful, double-disc Rhythm & Blues and last year’s Grammy-winning Born to Play Guitar. (Also Friday, Oct. 7)
The Record Company w/ Trapper Schoepp @ Turner Hall Ballroom, 8 p.m.
These days, breakout bands tend to arrive with a hook. Los Angeles’ Record Company doesn’t need one, though: They simply play rock ’n’ roll music. The bluesy power trio—which features Milwaukee native Chris Vos, a longtime staple of the local music scene who played in bands like Freshwater Collins and Invade Rome—released their debut album, Give It Back to You, this February on Conchord Records. It spawned the hit single “Off the Ground,” which topped Billboard’s Adult Alternative Songs chart and earned plenty of spins on Radio Milwaukee. Anybody who caught the group’s Summerfest performance in June can attest to how much energy the group brings to their songs on stage.
Saturday, Oct. 8
Co-op Fest @ multiple locations
Two of Riverwest’s most community-minded institutions celebrate big anniversaries this year. The Riverwest Public House, which has established itself over the years as both one of the neighborhood’s destination music venues and a hub for local activism, is marking its five-year anniversary, while the Riverwest Food Co-op & Café is commemorating 15 years. In conjunction with those anniversaries, the Riverwest Co-operative Alliance will host Co-op Fest 2016 at venues around the neighborhood. Highlights include workshops and panels about the logistics, economics and moral obligations of co-ops, and a lunch keynote from Ann Reynolds of the UW Center for Cooperatives. Tickets are $15 in advance and $20 day-of and include lunch and childcare services.
Skylar Grey w/ Morgxn @ The Rave, 8 p.m.
In the mid-’00s, Skylar Grey carved out a niche career for herself as “the woman who sings on all of those pop-rap songs,” appearing on hits from acts like Nicki Minaj, Diddy, Dr. Dre and Fort Minor, while also becoming an in-demand songwriter: She co-wrote Eminem and Rihanna’s 2010 smash “Love the Way You Lie.” Eminem repaid the favor by appearing on her latest solo album, Natural Causes, lending his angry raps to the track “Kill For You” and co-producing the track “Come Up for Air.” He’s the only guest rapper on a record that otherwise tries to recast Skylar Grey less as a hip-hop siren and more as an indie-leaning, Sia-styled songwriter.
Spiral Trance @ The Metal Grill, 8 p.m.
It’s the end of the line for one of Milwaukee’s longest-served hard-rock institutions. After more than 20 years of combining classic rock, prog and metal, Spiral Trance will call it a day with this farewell show at one of their regular haunts, Cudahy’s Metal Grill. Past and present members of the band will come together to revisit songs from the group’s entire history at this free show, which also promises free food and even free beer.
The Princess Bride: An Evening with Cary Elwes @ The Riverside Theater, 8 p.m.
Nostalgia is inherently non-discriminating—let’s face it, “Full House” wasn’t worth reviving—but some relics of our youth really do hold up. Case in point: Rob Reiner’s note-perfect 1987 fantasy comedy The Princess Bride, one of the most widely beloved cult films of the Reagan era. If you haven’t seen it recently, it’s every bit as tender and entertaining as you remember it being. Star Cary Elwes will be on hand for this screening of the film. Afterward, he’ll share behind-the-scenes tidbits and participate in a moderated discussion about the film.
Lampedusa: Concerts for Refugees @ The Pabst Theater, 7:30 p.m.
Here’s a show that fans will likely brag about having been at for years to come. A handful of Americana’s most respected singer-songwriters and performers, including Emmylou Harris, Steve Earle, Patty Griffin, Buddy Miller and The Milk Carton Kids, will come together for an evening of acoustic, in-the-round performances for this benefit for the Jesuit Refugee Service’s Global Education Initiative, which provides educational opportunities for refugees to help them cope and prosper. And late last month the tour announced that those headliners will be joined by a last-minute addition at some of its stops, including this Milwaukee concert: Led Zeppelin singer Robert Plant, who lends his considerable star power to the cause.
Dweezil Zappa @ Turner Hall Ballroom, 7:30 p.m.
Dweezil Zappa has been playing guitar for much of his life, but of his many, scattered musical projects, he’s found the most success fronting Zappa Plays Zappa, a rotating tribute band paying homage to his legendary father, Frank Zappa. Earlier this year, though, Zappa received a cease and desist order from his own family trust, which claimed a trademark on the name “Zappa Plays Zappa.” A series of complicated legal negotiations followed, but they didn’t deter Zappa from doing his thing. He’s still on the road, playing his father’s quirky rock songs. His latest tour nods to the legal dispute: It’s called the “Cease and Desist Tour” and promises that Zappa will play “whatever the f@%k he wants.”
Wednesday, Oct. 12
Die Antwoord @ The Rave, 8 p.m.
It’s been seven years since the South African rave-rap duo Die Antwoord released their debut album, $0$, and there are still critics wondering whether their act is sincere or some kind of bizarre satire of white-trash culture. That’s not a question the duo has shown much interest in answering, though they do tip their hat on their fourth and latest album, Mount Ninji and Da Nice Time Kid, which features a cameo from comedian Jack Black and songs with titles like “Wings on My Penis” and “U Like Boobies?” The duo’s rap is as boisterous and booming as ever, thanks to contributions from Cypress Hill’s DJ Muggs, but as always, their uncomfortable humor remains an acquired taste.