words by Cal Roach
Happy Friday, Milwaukee! You’ve got quite the diverse array of musical and artistic options on your plate this week, sounds from all over the world and especially from right here in our own town. Get out there and open your mind to some culture you’re not accustomed to, or rock out to some of the best bands in the city; we don’t care! Just be sure you don’t sit home every night like a bump on a log, because you’d really be missing out. Then again, if you’re reading this, you’re probably not one of THOSE people anyway, right…?
Cactus Club tops our list of really cool stuff to do tonight (Friday); it’s the place to be if you wanna catch one of the city’s most bodacious new bands, Body Futures. A supergroup of sorts (but what local band isn’t?), you can certainly hear the IfIHadAHifi and white, wrench, conservatory. elements, but you wouldn’t necessarily want to put Body Futures on a bill with either of those bands; their sound is pretty hard to nail down, though definitely catchy and noisy. Those adjectives work for Midwest Death Rattle too, who wowed us on Sunday at Locust Street Fest with other adjectives like mathy, punkish and, well, that’s enough made-up words for now. Great live band any way you describe it. Also playing: Space Raft.
Also tonight, starting early-ish at 5 p.m., it’s a special MAM (that’s Milwaukee Art Museum, don’tcha know) After Dark event that they’re calling a Block Party? Obviously, there’s no real “block” per se down by the museum, but let’s not get hung up on terminology, eh? The main attraction is called “30 Americans,” a multidisciplinary exploration of African-American art that will be complemented by a more localized exhibit called “Wisconsin 30.” Of course, there will be music, courtesy of WMSE’s own DJ Bizzon and DJ Jank, plus a “hip-hop congress” featuring local stars Dana Coppafeel, SPEAK Easy, Klassik and more. And let’s not forget a dance spectacle performed IN the fountains! It’s safe it say there’s never been an event quite like this, and it’s going to inspire a lot of thought and discussion as well as being a total blast. You probably don’t wanna miss it.
Saturday boasts a local-music no-brainer, as The Fatty Acids, hot off their own scene-stealing performance at Locust Street Fest, prepare to tear it up at Mad Planet. These guys are basically crazed ebullience in musical form, almost every show they play, and they supposedly have a new album nearing completion so you can bet they’ll be trying out some new material on the sweaty Riverwest masses. And speaking of new material, this show will also feature the debut of a brand-spankin’ new video by Jaill, who will also play a set of music; hard to say which of those is more exciting, since (as we’ve mentioned) Jaill is a band you must see live or be accused of shirking your duty as a Milwaukeean AND as a fan of rock and roll. Two of the city’s best bands for the price of…well, whatever the price is, it’ll be worth it. BUT WAIT, THERE’S MORE! You’ll also get a performance by one of the city’s most unique up-and-coming rappers, Milo, who wowed us last week opening for Open Mike Eagle! Plus Lawrence, Kansas buzz band Hospital Ships, and DJing by the ever-popular Wax Addicts. Wow, that is a positively ridiculous amount of awesome for one night.
Also Saturday: We reckon there’s a good chance you haven’t heard of Gnarrenschiff yet, unless you just happened to stop by People’s Books early in the evening last December during Riverwest Fest. If you did, we’re guessing you haven’t forgotten that set, ’cause there’s not much music remotely like that going on in Milwaukee. It’s basically a fast and furious breed of Eastern European folk music played on fiddle, bodhran and saz (that’s what Wikipedia is for!) that is slightly reminiscent of a very stripped-down Secret Chiefs 3. There, have we completely lost you yet? Just trust us, it’s great stuff. They’ll be joined at Club Garibaldi by The Naima, a band that’s supposedly preparing to release a new record but judging by the one killer track on Bandcamp, it’s gonna be metal. Should be a pretty sweet pairing. Also playing: Underestimator.
Across the street and just down the block at Cactus Club, another great show will be going down simultaneously: The Cave Singers are back! Every time they come to Milwaukee (which is pretty often, actually), we hear nothing but superlatives about the indie-folkers’ live prowess, so if you haven’t caught them yet, this could be your best opportunity yet. Why do we say that? Because you’ll also get to see local folk-popsters Blessed Feathers, and that’s at least as exciting a proposition. We get the urge to say this about a lot of local music, so for once we’re just gonna say it: There’s no comparable nationally-know act making better music than last year’s Peaceful Beasts In An Ocean Of Weeds EP. You’ll also get a solo set by Altos/Hello Death songstress Marielle Allschwang, you lucky dog, you!
Sunday night brings the fifth edition of a fairly new but already beloved Milwaukee institution: Rock ‘N’ Roller Remote Controller, a web series about a guy named Tabman who has a magic remote controller. Oh, and lots of music! About every six months, the production team of Mitch Rasque and Karen Deau premier a new episode of the series at Linneman’s and invite a bunch of bands to play too, and this installment boasts a great lineup as usual. You may have heard Uh Oh performing live on WMSE this past Tuesday afternoon? (It was LOUD.) They’ll be premiering a new video of their own as well. Also, Static Eyes (also guaranteed to be LOUD), Big Eyes (a loud rock and roll band from Seattle) and Really Loud Hamburgers (never heard of ‘em but probably pretty quiet). You never know what to expect from these things except a really fun time, and you love surprises, don’t you?
Do you like world music? Okay, sorry, that term just makes us squeamish; of course it’s the easiest way to lump non-U.S.A. music together for the sake of brevity, but it seems like a lazy genre tag and a little bit disrespectful of other cultures, doesn’t it? Who made us the arbiters of pop culture? Do they call American music “world music” in Turkey? Okay, sorry for the rant. The point is that way before anyone came up with that term, the South African vocal group known as Ladysmith Black Mambazo was bringing traditional Zulu music to The World. The U.S. at large first became aware of the group through Paul Simon, who featured the group on his landmark 1986 album Graceland, but LBM had been performing since 1960 and made a name for itself throughout Europe in the 70s. The word “pioneer” doesn’t even begin to describe what this group has meant to the global musical community, and you can see the choir perform next Thursday at the Pabst Theater. Don’t miss this one, folks.