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Thursday, April 15, 2010

This Week in Milwaukee

AC/DC, Record Store Day, Lupe Fiasco, Monotonix and Steve Martin

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Thursday, April 15

AC/DC w/ Black Frog @ Bradley Center, 7:30 p.m.

AC/DC’s 1980 classic Back in Black remains the Australian band’s best-selling album—in fact, it’s one of the best-selling albums ever, second only to Michael Jackson’s Thriller—but the enduring hard-rock band has lost little of its commercial potency as it enters its fourth decade. The group’s 2008 album, Black Ice, found AC/DC in fine form, earning strong reviews and emerging as one of the year’s top-selling records, despite being distributed only at Wal-Mart in the United States. On April 19, the group will release its latest album, a career-spanning compilation/movie tie-in not-so-subtly titled AC/DC: Iron Man 2, which features hits like “Highway to Hell,” “Let There Be Rock,” “T.N.T.” and “Shoot to Thrill.” Milwaukee’s Black Frog, the house band for 102.9 The Hog, opens.

Rowdy Roddy Piper @ Jokerz Comedy Club, 8 p.m.

Though he’s best known as the mulleted, kilted WWE wrestler—and perhaps the greatest (and most likable) villain the fake sport has ever seen, infamously taking on good guys Hulk Hogan and Mr. T at the inaugural 1985 WrestleMania event—“Rowdy” Roddy Piper also moonlights as a comedian, bringing to small comedy clubs the same oversized personality he brought to the ring during his heyday. In recent years, Piper has also displayed his comedy chops through appearances on “Robot Chicken,” “Jimmy Kimmel Live!” and “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia.”


Friday, April 16

Lupe Fiasco w/ B.o.B. @ The Rave, 7 p.m.

Chicago rapper Lupe Fiasco introduced himself with the infectious skateboarding single “Kick, Push” in 2005, but instead of pigeonholing himself as the skateboarding rapper, he revealed himself to be more ambitious than anyone could have expected on his 2007 sophomore album, Lupe Fiasco’s The Cool. Written around a mythology nearly as dense as The Lord of the Rings trilogy, the record is packed with triumphant arrangements and oversized pop hooks that complement Lupe’s slippery, focused storytelling, and its pop sheen is offset by a dark undercurrent that is like little else in hip-hop. Lupe had intended to retire after his third album, but like all rap retirement plans, they’ve been scrapped. His next album, set for release later this year, will be titled Lasers. Opener B.o.B., an alternative rapper from Atlanta, this month will release his anticipated debut album, The Adventures of Bobby Ray, which features guest spots from Lupe Fiasco, Weezer’s Rivers Cuomo and Paramore’s Hayley Williams.

OK Go @ Turner Hall Ballroom, 8 p.m.

This March the Los Angeles by way of Chicago alternative pop band OK Go severed its relationship with EMI following the label’s efforts to limit distribution of the band’s music video for “This Too Shall Pass,” from their new Of the Blue Colour of the Sky. It seemed a silly move on the label’s part, given that OK Go owes much of its notoriety to clever, viral videos, particularly the 2007 YouTube breakout for “Here It Goes Again,” which featured the dapper band hopping across treadmills in an elaborate, choreographed dance. Thanks in part to Flaming Lips/MGMT producer Dave Fridmann, the record breaks somewhat from the quirky pop-rock of the band’s previous efforts, instead offering a moodier, more atmospheric set of songs.

U.S. Air Guitar Championships @ Stonefly Brewery, 8 p.m.

Air guitar has been practiced as a competitive event since the ’80s, gaining particular attention after the 2006 documentary Air Guitar Nation and newfound interest following the success of “Guitar Hero” and related games. Though these competitions began as a joke, they’ve evolved into a surprisingly organized sport, culminating in a worldwide championship bout each year. Tonight Stonefly Brewery hosts the U.S. Air Guitar Championships’ Milwaukee regional, where competitors will vie for a paid trip to New York City for the U.S. Nationals—where they could move on to the world championship in Oulu, Finland. World champion Hot Lixx Hulahan and perennial second-placer Bjorn Turoque will emcee tonight’s event.

Saturday, April 17

Record Store Day @ Various Locations For the third year, musicians will release a slew of exclusive, limited-edition CDs, records and DVDs solely through independent record stores as part of Record Store Day, an effort to assist an industry badly battered by iTunes, BitTorrent and MySpace streams. This year’s haul includes releases from Bruce Springsteen, The Flaming Lips, Weezer, Bon Iver and Queens of the Stone Age, among many others. Many participating record stores will be celebrating with live entertainment, including the Exclusive Company on Farwell and Brady, which will host DJs and bands like Conrad Plymouth, Sugar Stems and The Lackloves.

A Tribute to Alex Chilton @ Linneman’s Riverwest Inn, 9 p.m.

Following its Record Store Day festivities, Linneman’s Riverwest Inn hosts a tribute concert for Alex Chilton, the Big Star/Box Tops singer who died last month at age 59, leaving behind a songbook of nostalgic, markedly personal power-pop, rock ’n’ roll and soul. Among the bands and musicians covering his work will be the Aimless Blades, Quinn Scharber, Juniper Tar, Matt Beckler, Certain Stars, John Peacock, Surgeons in Heat, Terry Hackbarth and Tom Vollman. The show is a benefit for 91.7 WMSE.


Toki Wright w/ Prophetic and The Hollowz @ Mad Planet, 9 p.m.

Minneapolis rapper Toki Wright had been a staple of the Twin Cities rap scene for more than a decade, collaborating with P.O.S. and C-Rayz Walz, but save for one mixtape, he hadn’t released much material of his own before the scene’s flagship label, Rhymesayers, last year issued his debut album, A Different Mirror. Showcasing soulful, meat-and-potatoes hip-hop beats and Wright’s loose, sometimes reggae-accented flow, the record recalls Mos Def and Talib Kweli’s early work as Black Star. Also playing tonight: DJ D Wood and Grape Street.

Vibha Vibe @ Milwaukee Public Library’s Centennial Hall, 7 p.m.

The captivating lilt of poetic Urdu will be just one of the melodies that fills Central Library’s grand Centennial Hall when the Vibha Milwaukee Action Center hosts its annual fund-raiser. A volunteer-driven nonprofit organization working to improve the lives of underprivileged children both in the United States and India, Vibha makes a positive difference through grassroots education and health projects. Following a 5 p.m. dinner will be a two-hour multicultural showcase that features a wide range of performances, from hip-hop and flamenco to Indian folk dancing and Bollywood hits. Part of the proceeds from Vibha Vibe will be donated to the Milwaukee Public Schools’ Homeless Education Program.


Sunday, April 18

Doug Benson @ The Rave, 4:20 p.m.

Comedian Doug Benson’s stage show The Marijuana-Logues, his documentary Super High Me, his “Stoner of the Year” endorsement by High Times magazine and this show’s 4:20 start time do little to hide Benson’s herbal muse. Marijuana jokes make up a good portion of Benson’s 2009 album, Unbalanced Load, but there’s more to him than just pot jokes. Benson also hosts a surprisingly smart podcast, “I Love Movies,” which he records in front of a live audience with guest comedians like Patton Oswalt, Zach Galifianakis and David Cross.

Ingrid Michaelson @ Potowatomi Bingo Casino, 7:30 p.m.

Singer-songwriter Ingrid Michaelson has a way of singing about even the most downtrodden themes of uncertainty and pain with sunshine and good cheer. That indomitable, upbeat spirit has made her, along with other independent women songwriters like Feist, Kate Nash and Regina Spektor, a hot commodity in the commercial world, where her songs have appeared on a host of television shows (including, of course, “Grey’s Anatomy”) as well as a successful 2007 Old Navy ad campaign featuring her cutesy breakout single “The Way I Am.” Her latest album, 2009’s Everybody, is loaded with upbeat folk-pop numbers about the universal need to love.

Tuesday, April 20

Monotonix w/ Call Me Lightning, Terrior Bute and Centipedes @ Bay View American Legion Hall, 6 p.m.

The American record label Drag City signed the eccentric Israeli garage-rock group Monotonix largely on the strength of the group’s wild live show, but you can’t say the group didn’t work for it. Any given show might find singer Ami Shalev swinging from rafters, dropping trou, surfing the crowd, chugging beer from a shoe, singing from atop a toilet or literally breaking a leg, as he did while performing earlier this year. The group’s debut album, last year’s Where Were You When It Happened?, does its best to capture this madness. Tonight’s performance coincides with the release of the band’s new 7-inch, Never Died Before / Lazy Boy, which they recorded with Steve Albini in Chicago.

Steve Martin @ The Pabst Theater, 8 p.m.

With its inherently whimsical sound, the banjo has been a staple of Steve Martin’s comedy routines since the 1970s, but Martin doesn’t just play the banjo for laughs. He’s serious about the instrument, and he has two Grammys to show for it: one for Best Country Instrumental Performance on Earl Scruggs’ 2001 version of “Foggy Mountain Breakdown,” and one for Best Bluegrass Album for his own 2009 album, The Crow: New Songs for the 5-String Banjo. Martin’s first non-comedy album, it features appearances from Scruggs, Dolly Parton, Vince Gill and Tim O’Brien. Martin will perform many of its songs tonight.