This Week in Milwaukee: Nov. 17-23
Chris Botti @ The Riverside Theater, 7:30 p.m.
Jazz sales aren’t what they used to be, but those lean times haven’t hurt Chris Botti’s sales much. The jazz-pop trumpeter, who has performed with Paul Simon, Aretha Franklin and Natalie Cole, among many others, is a reliable top-seller whose 10th and latest album, Impressions, debuted at the top of the Billboard Jazz chart. It features covers of songs fans might expect, including “Summertime,” “Over The Rainbow” and “What a Wonderful World,” and some they might not, like Michael Jackson’s R. Kelly-penned “You Are Not Alone.”
Friday, Nov. 18
Daughter w/ Vancouver Sleep Clinic @ Turner Hall Ballroom, 9 p.m.
A lot of press for the English group Daughter refers to them as a “folk trio,” though there’s nothing especially folk about them these days; they now have much more in common with The xx than, say, Joan Baez. This January the group released its brooding sophomore album Not To Disappear. It’s understated but powerful; its best songs start from a place of numbness and build toward something reassuring and expressive. Following their 2013 performance opening for The National, the group returns to Milwaukee for their first headlining show here.
Davy Knowles w/ Matthew Curry @ Shank Hall, 8 p.m.
For a blues scene always on the lookout for fresh talent, the group Back Door Slam came as a breath of fresh air in the mid-’00s. Their fierce blues-rock earned them memorable gigs playing at Bonnaroo and opening for Gov’t Mule, but they broke up in 2009 just as they seemed to be building a significant name for themselves. Singer/guitarist Davy Knowles has since carried on as a solo act, no doubt encouraged by the support of some of the very artists he grew up listening to, including Joe Satrianni, Warren Haynes and Peter Frampton, all of whom have praised his guitar chops.
FIDLAR w/ SWMRS and The Frights @ The Rave, 8 p.m.
Like many of the best breakout indie rock acts of the last few years, FIDLAR don’t take themselves especially seriously. Like their sometimes tourmates Wavves, the group specializes in zippy, infectious, vaguely surfy pop-punk, though unlike Wavves, they don’t have much interest in angst. Their 2015 sophomore album Too is all good vibes, ripping riffs and sunshine. They can cut loose when they need to: This year they released a killer cover of the Beastie Boys hit “Sabotage.”
Saturday, Nov. 19
Alejandro Escovedo w/ Jesse Malin @ The Back Room at Colectivo, 8 p.m.
It’s pretty amazing Alejandro Escovedo has never gotten around to writing an autobiography. Over a career that’s spanned decades, he’s cemented his status as one of alt-country’s all-time greatest songwriters, collaborated with some of rock’s top talent (including Ryan Adams, John Cale and Tony Visconti) and survived a nearly fatal bout of Hepatitis C only to emerge with one of his very best records, 2006’s The Boxing Mirror. The records that have followed have been plenty strong, too, including his just-released Burn Something Beautiful. Co-produced by R.E.M.’s Peter Buck, it features an all-star cast band including Buck, Scott McCaughey, Kelly Hogan, Decembertists drummer John Moen, Los Lobos saxophonist Steve Berlin and Sleater-Kinney’s Corin Tucker. Escovedo remains, after all these years, an artist that musicians line up to work with.
Machine Gun Kelly w/ Mod Sun @ The Rave, 7:30 p.m.
As a white rapper from Cleveland, Machine Gun Kelly introduced himself to rap as something of an outsider on his early mixtapes, though it didn’t take too long before rap’s inner circle opened its doors to him. He landed a coveted spot on XXL magazine’s Freshman Class list in 2011, the same year he signed a record deal with Bad Boy and Interscope, and his 2012 debut album Lace Up featured assists from rap royalty like Bun B, Waka Flocka Flame and Lil Jon. On his 2015 follow-up General Admission, Machine Gun Kelly leaned heavier on his rap-rock instincts, dialing up the guitars and even recruiting Kid Rock for a track.
The Legend of Zelda: Symphony of The Goddesses @ The Riverside Theater, 8 p.m.
Over the last half-decade, a number of live symphony performances have popped up dedicated to the unlikely subject of video game music, but none have better material to work with than Symphony of The Goddesses—the touring tribute to the music of “The Legend of Zelda.” Composer Koji Kondo’s score for the original “Zelda” game, which he claims to have written in a day, is perhaps the best regarded in video-game history, setting a high standard that has carried through most subsequent installments in the “Zelda” franchise. Milwaukee has hosted Symphony of the Goddesses several times now, but this return appearance promises new material, including new gameplay imagery and new songs from the latest Zelda game, “Tri Force Heroes.”
Tuesday, Nov. 22
Tory Lanez w/ Jazquees, Kranium, Taylor Bennett and Veecee @ The Rave, 9 p.m.
If you’ve ever rolled your eyes when Drake refers to his hometown of Toronto as “the 6,” you aren’t alone. Fellow Toronto singer/rapper Tory Lanez thinks it’s pretty lame, too, and his comments to that effect weren’t lost on Drake, who took aim at the young up and comer on this year’s “Summer Sixteen”: “All you boys in the new Toronto want to be me a little.” Being the subject of a Drake diss, of course, is a sure sign that you’ve arrived, and Lanez has clearly arrived. In the wake of his soulful breakout single “Say It,” Lanez has been a constant presence on rap radio, and he kept his hot streak going on his debut album this year, I Told You, on which he handled production alongside big names like Cashmere Cat and Benny Blanco.
Colors & Chords @ Turner Hall Ballroom, 6:30 p.m.
Radio Milwaukee’s Dori Zori hosts this benefit for the Milwaukee non-profit Islands of Brilliance, which hosts creative and technological workshops for kids and young adults with autism. The event pairs music and art on a massive scale, with performances from Rusty Pelicans, Midwest Death Rattle, Nineteen Thirteen, The Lovelies, Broken Genius with Chris McIntyre and Montreal Cain, Keith Pulvermacher Band, Hello Death, Lex Allen and Dryhouse Ruins. Visual artists include Pamela M. Anderson, Dwellephant, Jeff Redmon, Melissa Dorn Richards, David Mark Zimmerman, Tia Richardson, Cynthia Short and Frank Juarez.
Wednesday, Nov. 23
Atmosphere w/ Brother Ali, Dem Atlas, Plain Ole Bill and Last Word @ The Rave, 8 p.m.
Long before Macklemore was writing heavy songs about addiction and personal demons Atmosphere’s Slug was treading the same territory, on a series of heavily influential late ’90s and early ’00s albums that helped bring underground hip-hop to a wide audience. At times the rapper seemed so tortured and self-destructive that it’s amazing to see him still at it, nearly two decades after Atmosphere’s debut album, continuing to take the project into new directions. The group’s latest album is Fishing Blues, a follow-up to 2014’s funk-minded Southsiders, and though it’s a bit mellower than its predecessor, it features plenty of the intricate storytelling, personal reflections and dark humor that made Slug such a force on Atmosphere’s earliest releases. The group shares this bill with fellow Minneapolis rapper Brother Ali, a longtime staple of Atmosphere’s record label Rhymesayers.