This Week in Milwaukee: March 9-15, 2017
Thursday, March 9
Mac Sabbath w/ Metalachi and Okilly Dokilly @ Turner Hall Ballroom, 7:30 p.m.
Never let it be said that metal fans don’t have a sense of humor. In a gimmick with more than a few shades of Weird Al and GWAR, the Los Angeles cover band Mac Sabbath puts a fast-food spin on classic British metal songs, performing on stage dressed as McDonaldland-esque characters like Ronald McDonald (frontman Ronald Osbourne) and Grimace (bassist Grimalice). That jokey spirit is shared by the rest of this bill, which includes Metalachi, the world’s foremost heavy metal-mariachi band, and Okilly Dokilly, an extraordinarily high concept cover band made up entirely of Ned Flanders impersonators. According to their website, they’re the world’s only “Nedal” band.
Patti Smith @ Milwaukee Theatre, 8 p.m.
Patti Smith fans probably assumed they might never see the iconic musician-poet perform in Milwaukee again. Before she announced her current tour, it had been 38 years since she’d last played the city, at what was then called the Milwaukee Auditorium. But this week Smith makes her long overdue return at a concert that will include a performance of her revolutionary 1975 debut album Horses in its entirety. She’ll be accompanied by a band that includes two members who played on that record: guitarist Lenny Kaye and drummer Jay Dee Daugherty. If you missed the Shepherd’s exclusive interview with Smith last week, where she discussed the making of that record and shared her reflections on Milwaukee, you can read it at ShepherdExpress.com.
Friday, March 10
Milwaukee Blues Festival @ Milwaukee Theatre, 8 p.m.
Is any genre quicker to toss around the word “festival” than blues? It seems that every other blues show with more than two or three performers have the word stamped on it. This annual blues festival at the Milwaukee Theatre is one of these festivals worth getting more excited about, though. As always, it features a lineup that draws heavily from the more soulful and gospel-minded end of the blues spectrum, with performers this year including Sir Charles Jones, Willie Clayton, Ms. Jody, Pokey Bear, Bishop Bullwinkle and TK Soul.
Horseshoes & Hand Grenades w/ Dead Man Winter @ The Pabst Theater, 8 p.m.
Stevens Point isn’t especially well known for its music scene, but for the last few years one band from its scene has been turning heads around the state and beyond: Horseshoes & Hand Grenades, a bluegrass quartet with a deep respect for genre tradition. Using an aerosol of instruments that includes guitar, accordion, harmonica, fiddle, mandolin and a dobro, the group has earned a reputation for their boisterous live shows, which often play out as wild hootenannies. The release of their debut album, Middle Western, in 2015 only furthered their profile.
Jerry Seinfeld @ The Riverside Theater, 7 and 9:30 p.m.
Jerry Seinfeld never left the spotlight after his pioneering TV sitcom “Seinfeld” came to an end in 1998. Instead, he carried on with a variety of projects, including his mediocre kids flick Bee Movie, the short-lived NBC game show “The Marriage Ref” and his quietly inventive, low-concept web series, Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee. Mostly, though, he just continued doing what he does best: stand-up comedy. Despite his stature, he continues to tour behind the same tightly scripted observational comedy that made him one of the defining comics of the ’80s and ’90s. He’s well compensated for it, too. Forbes has repeatedly listed him on top of its annual list of the world’s highest-paid comedians.
Saturday, March 11
JoJo @ The Pabst Theater, 8 p.m.
Teen singer JoJo released her self-titled debut and its follow-up, The High Road, in the mid ’00s, right around the time that music critics were starting to take her brand of R&B-inspired pop music seriously. With those records she attained a kind of cult status among pop music fans, but it took her nearly a decade to release her third effort, Mad Love, which arrived last fall on Atlantic Records. Featuring guest raps from Wiz Khalifa (on the single “Fuck Apologies”) and Remy Ma (on the boisterous track “FAB”), it showcases an older, considerably edgier performer than the one her debut introduced.
Monday, March 13
Chris Rock @ Milwaukee Theatre, 8 p.m.
How lucky Milwaukee is to see two of the most influential comedians of their time within a week of each other. Days after Jerry Seinfeld’s performances at the Riverside Theater, Chris Rock headlines this show at the Milwaukee Theatre. Between his blockbuster comedy specials and albums in the ’90s and his pioneering “Chris Rock Show” for HBO (which included a young Louis C.K. on its writing staff), Rock set the example for countless comedians who followed in his footsteps. In recent years he’s continued working on films (including 2014’s Top Five, which he wrote and directed) and returned to host the Academy Awards for a second time in 2016, but right now he’s back on the road with his first tour in nearly a decade. That return couldn’t be better timed: Given the state of race relations under President Donald Trump, the country needs his sharply worded insights perhaps now more than ever.
Nikki Lane w/ Brent Cobb and Jonathan Tyler @ Turner Hall Ballroom, 8 p.m.
It’s always satisfying seeing a deserving performer work their way up from opener status into headliner territory. Over the years, Nashville country performer Nikki Lane has warmed Milwaukee stages for a host of artists, including Noah and the Whale, Jenny Lewis and Social Distortion, often upstaging the headliners. On her third and latest album Highway Queen, she splits the difference between Loretta Lynn and Waylon Jennings with a series of pointed, rock-minded outlaw country tunes.
Wednesday, March 15
Allah-Las w/ The Babe Rainbow @ Turner Hall Ballroom, 8 p.m.
The Los Angeles rock quartet Allah-Las don’t try to reinvent the wheel. They’re content to just keep it spinning gleefully. Last year the group released their third album of Zombies-British Invasion-inspired rock ’n’ roll, Calico Review, for the New York indie label Mexican Summer, and while it doesn’t sound all that different from the two records that preceded it, they prove that there’s still plenty of life left in this sound. Their jovial single “Could Be You” has been in regular rotation on Radio Milwaukee.