This Week in Milwaukee: Oct. 27-Nov. 2
Thursday, Oct. 27
Fruit Bats w/ Courtney Marie Andrews @ The Back Room at Colectivo, 8 p.m.
After releasing a run of underrated, tunefully folky albums for Sub Pop records, Fruit Bats leader Eric Johnson announced in 2013 that he was putting his indie-rock band to rest. It didn’t take long for him to change his mind. Last spring he revealed the band was back on again and planned to release a new album, a follow-up to 2011’s Tripper, which Johnson had recorded after becoming a member of The Shins. This spring he released that album, Absolute Loser, a delicate, vulnerable work that reflects on loss.
Mac Miller w/ Lakim and ClockworkDJ @ The Rave, 8 p.m.
In 2011, while still in his teens, Mac Miller surprised onlookers by becoming the first independent rapper to score a number one album on the Billboard charts in more than a decade with his commercial debut, Blue Slide Park. In the years since, the Philadelphia rapper and one-time Wiz Khalifa protégé has been welcomed into the inner circles of both rap and pop music; he even assisted Ariana Grande on her 2013 hit “The Way.” Grande returns the favor by appearing on Miller’s fourth and latest album, this September’s The Divine Feminine, an album that doesn’t lack for star power. It also features contributions from Anderson Paak, Ty Dolla Sign, Kendrick Lamar and Cee-Lo Green (though featuring Cee-Lo on an album that purports to be a celebration of women was probably in poor taste, given some of the recent controversies surrounding that rapper).
Friday, Oct. 28
Hopsin w/ Joyner Lucas and Token @ The Rave, 7:30 p.m.
If any rapper can get into the Halloween spirit it should be Hopsin, a Los Angeles rapper who, in the spirit of horrorcore acts like the Gravediggaz, wears freaky white contact lenses that give him a vaguely undead look. In 2012 the rapper received a major boost when he earned a coveted spot on XXL magazine’s Freshman Class list, which earned him countless comparisons to the similarly provocative rapper Tyler the Creator, though in truth Hopsin’s music is much less confrontational than the average Odd Future release. On his latest album, Pound Syndrome, Hopsin raps about personal responsibility and outlines his complicated relationship with Christianity—which he’d embraced after becoming born again in 2012.
Saturday, Oct. 29
Peter Hook and the Light @ Turner Hall Ballroom, 8 p.m.
The defining bassist of the post-punk movement, Peter Hook paved the way for countless other bands with his influentially gloomy riffs during Joy Division’s short run. After Ian Curtis’ suicide ended that band, Hook and his bandmates carried on, hitting commercial heights Joy Division never saw—their 1983 single “Blue Monday” was the biggest selling 12-inch of all time—although internal struggles repeatedly cut the group’s time together short, leading to long hiatuses and a pair of breakups. After feuding with singer-guitarist Bernard Sumner for years, bassist Hook was left out of the band’s 2011 reunion, but he’s carried on with his own touring act, Peter Hook and the Light. At this show, he’ll play both Joy Division and New Order’s Substance singles compilations in their entirety.
Schoolboy Q w/ Joey Bada$$ @ The Rave, 7:30 p.m.
While Kendrick Lamar positioned himself as the tender soul of his Top Dawg Entertainment circle, his frequent collaborator Schoolboy Q was crafting a decidedly tougher image as a fierce, cutthroat presence. Like a lot of kids in his Los Angeles neighborhood, he was a member of the Hoover Crips, and his records draw heavily from his gangster past, but that doesn’t mean they’re any less brainy or complicated than Lamar’s. On his 2014 major-label debut Oxymoron he grappled with his history of drug addiction, and on this year’s follow-up Blank Face LP, he continues to wrestle with his past. The record features guest spots from Kanye West, Vince Staples, E-40 and Miguel.
Halloween Covers Show @ Linneman’s Riverwest Inn, 9 p.m.
Save for pumpkin carving and, of course, trick or treating, is there a better Halloween tradition than themed cover-band concerts? Each year members of local Milwaukee bands play dress up to pay tribute to some of the acts that inspired them at shows like this one, which will feature members of Midnight Reruns, Slow Walker, Phylums, Bad Wig, Midwives, Sat. Nite Duets, The Thriftones and Micronics paying homage to bands including Weezer, ELO, AC/DC and The Coasters.
Monday, Oct. 31
The Ghost Train @ Oak Leaf Trail Bridge and Capitol Drive, 7 p.m.
Heralded as the fastest train in the world when it launched in 1935, the legendary Twin Cities 400 was able to make the 400-mile trek between Chicago and St. Paul, Minn. in just 400 minutes. A new permanent outdoor exhibition in Shorewood will pay homage to that relic of the past by using lighting and sound technology to create the illusion of that train roaring down the Oak Leaf Trail Bridge over Capitol Drive. And what better night to kick off the exhibition than Halloween night? The train will make its inaugural run at 7 p.m., following a ceremony at 6:45 p.m. There will also be a Ghost Train-themed photo booth at Culver’s and a kid-friendly 7:30 p.m. post-party at Shorewood’s Metro Market. (For anybody understandably worried that the spectacle of a phantom train might cause car accidents on Capitol Drive, the Village of Shorewood insists that it conducted a comprehensive traffic study before authorizing the installation.)
Tuesday, Nov. 1
Destroyer @ The Back Room at Colectivo, 8 p.m.
Sometimes Dan Bejar’s penchant for high-concept aesthetic statements has overshadowed his gifts as a songwriter. For the last 20 years, as Destroyer, Bejar has leapt from one genre to another, from the lo-fi folk of his early records to the high-fi glam of records like 2006’s Destroyer’s Rubies and the jazzy, throwback soft-rock of 2011’s Kaputt. No matter what package the songs come in, though, they’re all defined by Bejar’s clever, heavily reverential lyrics. His latest album, 2015’s Poison Season, is typically high production, backed to the brim with strings and orchestrations, but those songs should receive a more stripped-down treatment at this show, where Bejar will perform solo.
Wednesday, Nov. 2
Yellowcard w/ Torches and Dryjacket @ The Rave, 8 p.m.
It didn’t take all that much to stand out from the mass-produced punk bands that emerged during the early 2000s emo/pop-punk boom, and Jacksonville, Fla.’s Yellowcard had something many of their Warped Tour peers didn’t: a violinist, Sean Mackin, who lent color to the group’s catchy little punk songs. The band’s vaguely Christian leanings have helped them maintain a loyal audience over the last decade, but it also helps that the band has matured better than most of their contemporaries. Their 2012 album, Southern Air, was loaded with bittersweet pop-rock tunes that meditate on the passage of time, and 2014’s Lift a Sail continued the band’s drift away from punk and toward a more traditional rock sound. This fall’s self-titled effort marks the end of the road, however: The band has announced they’ll break up following this final world tour.