words by Cal Roach
We don’t want to sound like a broken record, but hot damn, 2012 is looking like a banner year for local music. We just had the Promise Ring reunion, and then last week came the announcement that Die Kreuzen will be getting back together for a special Memorial Day weekend show! As if that weren’t enough, read on for plenty more MKE music (etc.) excitement coming up over the next week.
The Unruly Music Spring Festival that began Thursday continues tonight (Friday) and Saturday at the Marcus Center for the Performing Arts. Tonight’s event is a special tribute to John Cage in honor of what would’ve been his 100th birthday. We’re pretty sure it won’t just be hours of silence, but no guarantees! Tomorrow night brings a very unique event: “The Brightest Form Of Absence,” presented by Dal Niente. It’s an experimental piece composed by Hans Thomalla, featuring acoustic and electronic instrumentation, inspired by the Mojave Desert and Death Valley. Read all about the festival here.
Chances are, if you listen to WMSE around 6-9 in the a.m., you’ve heard DJs like Scott Lucey, Craig Mertes or Dr. Fell play something by Jel; he’s that distinctive hip-hop voice you hear in Themselves and Subtle, among other things. Tonight, Jel brings his solo act to Cactus Club, along with a couple other artists who specialize in combining rap with indie rock, post-rock and whatever else they might find lying around: Astronautilus and Busdriver. Watch the Minneapolis and Los Angeles worlds of–dare we say it–alternative hip-hop collide!
Also in Bay View tonight: Frank’s Power Plant will be hosting a couple of great local noisy indie rock bands, Sleepcomesdown (who are still hard at work on their debut album) and Elusive Parallelograms (who just released the terrific Habits EP last month). You can expect loud guitars as well as grand psychedelic textures all layered over killer pop songs. Also playing: Vaudevileins and Moss Folk.
You could also venture up to Riverwest, where you’ve got at least a couple of hot options: Catacombz, Milwaukee’s premier stoner/krautrock noisemongers, will shake the foundations of the Riverwest Public House (along with Bitchin’ Bajas and Zath), and then there’s an unusually loud and chaotic happening at Bremen Café: it’s Sonic J, which is luckily small enough to cram into the little corner tap but whose sound is huge, like Black Sabbath hopped up on caffeine and bombarded by mosquitoes. Also squeezing in: Life Puzzler and Lotus Eaters.
Full disclosure: a member of Altos is the administrator of this here blog. But we at Linky McLinkster would be shirking our duty big time if we failed to mention one of Milwaukee’s best bands having a record release party Saturday night at Stonefly Brewing Company; conflicts of interest be damned! For a little preview, go here to listen to some tracks from the new album. Now imagine that live and in-person with a 12-person band. Yep, it’s gonna be amazing. As luck would have it, you’ll also get to see Christopher Porterfield just as a tremendous buzz is building for his forthcoming album with the newly-rechristened Field Report (formerly Conrad Plymouth), as well as Jim Winship, Cedarwell and Neil Gravander. Don’t. Miss. This. Show.
There’s also a primo punk rock show going on in Riverwest Saturday night at the neighborhood’s primo punk bar, Circle A Café: psychobilly/garage howlers Drugs Dragons (we highly recommend picking up their excellent 12” release from last year, The Milorganight EP) and Head On Electric, who just put out their debut full-length Sleep Slaughter Sheep a month or two ago. There’s no better DIY ambience in town than at Circle A, so get your swill on and rock out to some down and dirty rock and roll.
Hot Tuna is the rare example of the side project that outlasted the main attraction. Formed in 1969 as an offshoot of Jefferson Airplane, this folk/blues outfit led by bassist Jack Casady and guitarist Jorma Kaukonen has persisted despite a hiatus or two, while the Airplane (and even Starship, for all practical purposes) has long since crashed and burned. With the massive resurgence of American roots music over the past decade or so, Hot Tuna’s style has essentially become contemporary again, and reports indicate that these old cats can jam with the best of today’s youngsters. Find out if the reports are true Sunday night at the Pabst Theater.
You’ve heard of William Shatner, right? He’s that guy from the Priceline commercials, and we’re pretty sure he’s been on actual TV programs as well. But did you know he recently put on his own one-man Broadway show? And now he’s bringing this show to the Riverside Theater Sunday night! Not bad for–deep breath–80 years old, eh? We don’t know how he manages it, but perhaps there’ll be some clues as Shatner takes us through the story of his life via music, videos and his own unique brand of storytelling. That’s right, it’s “Shatner’s World: We Just Live In It” (the name of the show, natch!).
Tuesday, get ready for the next thrilling installment of the Ex Fabula Story Slam, which returns to the Bay View Brew Haus at 7:30 p.m. Nothing breaks up the monotony of the work week like watching complete strangers tell revealing/moving/hilarious stories about their lives–except maybe telling one yourself! Search your memory banks for something that might fit this month’s theme, “Piece Of Cake.” Now stand in front of a mirror, practice your facial expressions, and try not to say “um” or “like” if you can help it.