words by Cal Roach
Woohoo! (and/or boohoo!) The holidays are over! While this probably means no more presents or forced family time for a while, it also means the music and nightlife scene begins to slowly crank back into action. Take advantage of this crazy-warm, snowless winter (again, woohoo! and/or boohoo!) and get out and about this week, before your free time is all taken up by camping and boating again. Spring will be here before you know it.
Hidden away on a dim block of National Avenue is one of the city’s best all-ages venue, the Borg Ward. Since 2007, this little room has hosted an impressive list of local and national acts for next to nothing, all while barely keeping the lights on. Friday evening at 6:30, you’ll want to be here for Fahri’s first show of 2012. The band has a new album in the can, Final Disconnect Notice, which we hope will be available soon; in the meantime, live is just about the only way to experience the band’s new tunes. Expect a perfect blend of noise and melody, and be sure to bring earplugs just in case! Also playing: Wasted Islands, Coelacanth, SPUR, and Mastro.
Also worth mentioning on Friday: Wu-Tang Clan will be descending on The Rave. This is one rap group that doesn’t need to bring along a posse of collaborators (even though there will surely be a few affiliates on hand), as the eight-man crew has way more than enough stellar material to pick from, including several landmark solo releases by members Raekwon, Ghostface Killah and GZA. Word is there will be another full-group album coming out in spring of 2012, so you might get a sneak preview at this show. You can probably count on one hand the number of 90s hip-hop stars who are still relevant today, but only if you count Wu-Tang as just one.
Saturday night’s no-brainer is happening at Cactus Club. Fresh off memorable performances at Riverwest Fest in December, Brief Candles and The Fatty Acids will play loud rock music in completely different but equally awesome styles. And that’s not all: the city’s most hilarious band (by design…we think), Crappy Dracula, will also delight you with philosophy, jokes and other non sequiturs–oh, and a bunch of killer punk-ish rock tunes. If by some chance you haven’t seen any of these bands before, you have GOT to get to this show at all costs; these are three of Milwaukee’s most entertaining live bands, period.
If you plan to be in Riverwest instead on Saturday night, check out Chicago’s Phantom Works, a raucous garage band with a unique combination of shouted vocals and jagged, guttural guitar riffs, refreshingly punchy and free from overbearing reverb. The trio will be appearing at Circle A Café, and judging by their minimalist sound, the tiny room might be just the right size for a small drum kit and a couple of cheap amps. Also playing: Milwaukee’s own Red Stuff, a duo that rarely plays out but whose garagey 2010 debut album, Best Of Hot Rod Love, was one of the most unique instrumental rock records in recent memory.
For those of you who won’t be chin-deep in playoff football this weekend, be aware that Blue Man Group will be wrapping up its residency at the Marcus Center For The Performing Arts on Sunday. By now, the troupe’s ubiquitous bald blue clones have been everywhere, and they’ve even taken up a permanent home at Chicago’s Briar Street Theater, but this current touring unit features performance elements not seen in any of the group’s worldwide non-mobile productions. It’s something you should probably experience in person at some point, and it’s not often that these characters appear this close to home.
It’s Tuesday night. You need a good laugh. And just maybe, a beer. Your best bet is to head over to the Bay View Brew Haus for a fresh dose of the Ex Fabula Story Slam! The theme for this month’s event is “Faking It,” which probably induced a side-splitting and/or painfully awkward memory right when you read it, so imagine what will happen when people well versed in the art of storytelling get up on a stage and regale you with their own twisted tales.
Otherwise, if you’re near a radio around 8 p.m. on Tuesday, “turn” the dial to 91.7 for a heavy dose of intricate progressive rock on this week’s Local Live segment. That’s right: it’s Secret Society Of Starfish, and we probably didn’t need to tell you a band with that name plays prog, did we? Members hail from past stalwarts on the local prog scene such as Kopecky (sorely missed) and Dimension X, and the quasi-supergroup just released its debut album, Dark Reflections from the Waters Edge, last November.