words by Cal Roach
You gotta love weekends like this, when you look at your calendar and think to yourself, “No matter what kind of mood I’m in on Friday night, there’s something cool going on that will fit it.” Feel like electronic beats? Up for some mind-bending progressive rock? How about spacing out to some epic improvisational jams? Or maybe top-notch songwriters with guitars? Milwaukee’s got all of that and more going on this weekend, so just go with your gut when you start getting ready to go out tonight; the little man (or woman) inside you always knows what’s best.
It’s been a long week of watching gorgeous weather happen through the windows of your workplace, and you’ve got a ton of pent-up energy to expend. We’ve got the solution: Flying Lotus, tonight (Friday) at Turner Hall. Everyone’s probably familiar with his ties to Thom Yorke and his critically-acclaimed records (last year’s Until The Quiet Comes will do nicely as an introduction to FlyLo’s jazz-infused beats, if you need one), but his live sets are where the action is really at. Although he ventures into (the horror!!) dubstep and other typical electronic styles, the quirky blend that emerges is all his own, weird and irresistible. Also performing: Thundercat and Teebs.
Prog heads would be well advised to visit Club Garibaldi tonight for the only scheduled U.S. appearance (!!?!) of Italy’s Il Castello di Atlante. This band had a highly unusual path to success, having formed in 1974 and played around its homeland for years but never releasing and album until Sono io il signore delle terre a nord in 1992 (!!?!). The band has steadily built up a following since then, and tonight they’ll be joined by one of Milwaukee’s best prog prospects, Fibonacci Sequence. The band put out an impressive debut album, Numerology, back in 2010 and keep hinting at a forthcoming new record; chances are you’ll hear some as-yet-unreleased material at this show.
Also tonight, Shank Hall is your destination for a rare opportunity to catch the legendary Kristin Hersh for a solo show. Yes, it’s 2013; whether she likes it or not, the Throwing Muses founder can certainly be considered a legend by us children of the 90s. Over the past several years she’s been concentrating as much on writing books and charitable work as music, but she did put out a solo album, Crooked, in 2010. Opening for Hersh will be Milwaukee’s own Lisa Ridgely, no stranger to intensely personal, angst-ridden songs herself. Since we’re all about links here, it would be silly not to point you in the direction of her band’s debut EP, eh? It’s a very enjoyable listen. Speaking of enjoyable listening, make sure to check out Hersh’s live performance at WMSE from earlier this afternoon (at 2pm CST) in the WMSE archives.
This weekend also boasts a homegrown camping and music festival in nearby Concord called (naturally) Jam For Jam; the event was formerly known as Operation: Adaptation but the focus of the activism has since shifted from a somewhat vague environmental thing to a more specific humanitarian effort. The (somewhat poorly-promoted) fest started yesterday and features many of the premier acts of the local improvisational rock scene; tonight’s headliners are the Milwaukee prog/jazz maestros known as Alpha Transit, who don’t play out too often lately but are one of the city’s must-see live acts. Between today and tomorrow, you can catch great bands like Stealin’ Strings, LovaNova, De La Buena and tons more, and the proceeds benefit the Jam For Jamaica Building Project. Check out the full music schedule and all the info you need here.
Saturday night, it’s the return of MELT, the Brew City’s celebrated experimental electronic music series, going down at Stonefly. As always, The Demix will conjure up wild collages of sound, ambient tones and spoken word and whatever noises your kitchen sink might make. This one’s also going to feature WMSE’s very own BTS.WRKNG, who you may know as the guy behind the turntables on Monday nights cranking out a continuous mix of smooth awesomeness over the airwaves. You also get sets of unpredictable beats courtesy of Zero Beat and Moriokun, so be prepared for a full night!
Sunday night brings British indie rock to Turner Hall in the form of Foals. These guys have been slowly finding their hooves (whoops) over the course of three albums; the first two were sort of faceless, mildly noisy and danceable offerings that didn’t stir up a lot of excitement, but the new Holy Fire is a major step forward, a moody and infectious collection of tunes that should translatr well to the stage. They’ll be joined by West Palm Beach buzz band Surfer Blood (new album due out in June) and the humorously-named L.A. brother-sister group Blondfire.
Back in January, Vermont-based singer/songwriter Anaïs Mitchell came to Milwaukee as the opening act for Punch Brothers, which turned out to be a fantastic night of music all around. At that show, she introduced us to some tracks from her collaborative album with Jefferson Hamer, Child Ballads, a collection of Francis James Child’s 19th-century folk ballads, which then came out this past March. This Sunday, Mitchell returns to Milwaukee with Hamer in support of this album, playing the intimate Pabst Theater Pub. We’d hope they’ll also be playing some of Mitchell’s originals, because she is one of the overall best songwriters of the past decade; check out her 2010 concept album Hadestown for starters (specifically the flat-out folk masterpiece “Why We Build The Wall”). As a performer, she is about as impressive and endearing as you can get. Also playing: Mike & Ruthy.