words by Erin Wolf
WMSE and Bastille Days — match made in heaven? One city block away from WMSE, itself, the Milwaukee festival celebrating France is jam-packed with music, food and culture — three things WMSE knows plenty about. Plus, this particular ethnic festival (one of many, many…many in Milwaukee) is smack dab in the heart of the campus of the Milwaukee School of Engineering (check out the above photo to see a very handsome and very 43-foot tall replica of France’s structural icon, the Eiffel Tower…or ‘la Tour Eiffel’, if you’re French-spirited). For the musical side of the festival, the weekend lineup includes WMSE’s own Paul Cebar (and his Tomorrow Sound), Jeffery Broussard & the Creole Cowboys, Mike Mangione & the Union, Paris la Nuit, Fox & Branch, the Extra Crispy Brass Band, the Tritonics and Robin Pluer.
No Friday the 13th would be complete without a proper dose of creepiness. Swallow that dose at the Riverwest Public House tonight for the premier of Little Otik, a new Milwaukee band, namesake-d from one of Czechoslovakia’s darker films of the last decade (check out the plot, here). Not too surprising with the founder of Little Otik being none other than Daniel Bullock of the oft-tagged ‘end-timey’ Scarring Party. Don’t expect Scarpar Part II, though. Little Otik has its own subtle charms. Get your creep on and listen for yourself.
The Borg Ward is Milwaukee’s haven for noise music and tonight, the gallery and music space welcomes back Burial Hex for another spine-tingling performance. Clay Ruby/Burial Hex has been floating his noisy sonic thunderstorms between Madison and Milwaukee since 2004 (check out the 2008 split with Madison ex-pat Zola Jesus) and while most might find his tastes to be downright intense, there likewise is an intense beauty to be found in all the scraping static and close-walled structures. With Venowl, Sun Splitter, Reptile Worship and Samantha Glass.
Love metal? Live in Milwaukee? If you haven’t seen Northless live yet, that’s a darn shame. One of the most gloriously crushing experiences one’s eardrums could even dream of takes place when these fellows take the stage.Tonight, they take on Milwaukee’s Cactus Club.
Marcia Ball is one of those musicians that simply has an inspiring force that is impossibly infectious, whether you’re a fan of blues piano or not. Ball, living up to her name, is an absolute ball of energy, live, practically bouncing right off the piano bench while she plays. Her latest album, Roadside Attractions (Alligator Records) was nominated for a Grammy, and it’s no small wonder. Ball writes with a fun attitude and with plenty of natural style, honing in on the winning sounds of New Orleans. She pays a visit to Milwaukee’s Shank Hall on Saturday for a show that is sure to be one of the best of the year.
Post-weekend is the new weekend, sometimes and this Monday/Tuesday in Milwaukee is hopefully your vacation time, because three solid shows are not going to budge from the calendar all on their own. Monday welcomes Gillian Welch to the Pabst Theater. Welch, whom many will recognize as a laudable contemporary Americana folk singer/songwriter (and even more might recognize from the classic Coen Brothers film O Brother, Where Art Thou?), released The Harrow & the Harvest last year to much acclaim, her beautiful melodies and dusty voice entwined with longtime friend and collaborator, David Rawlings.
If punk and garage pop is more your deal, head to Quarters for some of that, a la King Tuff. Kyle Thomas, the crazy behind King Tuff is busy touring on his latest self-titled Sub Pop Records release, and is eating up the road and the praise he’s getting for this brash, nutty and totally bratty collection of songs. Lots of glam and probably lots of glitter went into the making of this one. With Natural Child, Lazy and Bored Games.
Tuesday night gets angular as weirdo noise rockers The Blind Shake make the trip down to Milwaukee from Minneapolis for a show at Frank’s Power Plant with Wereworm and The Mallard. The trio’s latest release, Seriousness, got serious props from The Onion’s A.V. Club: “Like any good basement show, Seriousness only lasts for about 30 minutes. But the bruises it leaves take days to heal.” That’s a good ‘ouch’, we’re thinking. Happy weekend, everyone! Go get yourself some live music.