This Week in Milwaukee
NOFX, Craig Ferguson, Kings Go Forth, Harlem and Jaill
Thursday, April 29
NOFX @ The Riverside Theater, 7:30 p.m.
they have sold more than 6 million albums in their quarter-century
together, Cali-punk institutions NOFX have made a point to stay out of
the mainstream by avoiding music videos and taunting the hands that
feed. Their most infamous single, “Please Play This Song on the Radio,”
culminates in a torrent of profanity. The group long ago dropped
pretenses of being a serious hardcore band, instead settling on a
jocular skate-punk sound, but between all the silly party songs on
their latest album, 2009’s Coaster, singer Fat Mike opens up for some
of his most confessional lyrics ever. On “My Orphan Year” he sings of
his parents’ deaths in earnest terms, then addresses addiction on “I Am
an Alcoholic,” the rare NOFX song that demonizes intoxicants instead of
Craig Ferguson @ The Pabst Theater, 8 and 10:30 p.m.
isn’t much room for innovation in the world of late-night talk shows,
almost all of which follow the same rigid formula “The Tonight Show”
laid out a half-century ago, but comedian Craig Ferguson has
nonetheless managed to make CBS’s handed-down “Late Late Show” his own.
Eschewing the snide, postmodernism of David Letterman, the everyman
pandering of Jay Leno and the manic absurdism of Conan O’Brien,
Ferguson has settled on a more low-key, conversational tone for his
program. He’s gained particular attention for his monologues, which use
scripted jokes as a starting point for long, off-the-cuff diatribes,
some of which are unusually personal and even sentimental (Ferguson
often addresses his history of alcoholism). His show isn’t flashy, and
it certainly doesn’t make headlines the way some of his competitors’
programs do, but it often connects in a way few other talk shows
Chris Pureka w/ Peasant @ Shank Hall, 8 p.m.
Massachusetts singer-songwriter who has often performed with Milwaukee
folkie Peter Mulvey, Chris Pureka built on the stripped-down Americana
of her previous solo releases for her latest album, How I Learned to
See in the Dark, which she released this month. Coproduced with Merrill
Garbus of the experimental pop project tUnE-yArDs, How I Learned is
Pureka’s most sonically ambitious album yet, incorporating lovely
strings and moody atmospherics that complement her somber songs about
strained relationships and selfdestructive instincts.
Friday, April 30
Kings Go Forth w/ Chicago Stone Lightning Band @ Turner Hall Ballroom, 8 p.m.
Milwaukee’s retro-soul 10-piece Kings Go Forth last played a record
release at Turner Hall Ballroom in July, everything went well save for
the absence of an actual record to release. They had good reason for
the delay, though: They’d just been signed to David Byrne’s Luaka Bop
Records. The group finally released its debut, The Outsiders Are Back,
on April 20. A note-perfect homage to the sweaty soul of ’60s vocal
ensembles like The Esquires and The Seven Sounds, it earned immediate
national accolades, including thumbs up from National Public Radio and
Anniversary @ The Hide House, 6:30 p.m.
youth arts organization Artbeat celebrates its one-year anniversary tonight
with an open house and showcase at the Hide House. Photographs, mosaics,
sculptures and paintings will be on display at the Artbeat gallery beginning at
6:30 p.m., followed by a two-hour program at 8 p.m. featuring folk singer
Ronnie Nyles, spoken-word artist Joshua the Scribe and reggae singer J.D.
Rankin of King Solomon.
MS Benefit @ Art Bar, 9 p.m.
Art Bar hosts a diverse bill of music tonight as part
of a fund-raiser for the MS Society. Performers include local rockers Take
Solace and roots-pop singer-songwriter Bryan Cherry, as well as Chicago
Americana troubadour Wolfgang Schaefer and MBird, the stage name for Nashville singer Megan
Birdsall. On her new debut album, Over
the Bones, Birdsall explores Nashville
country through the lens of her background in jazz, singing sometimes sweet,
sometimes pensive Americana
tunes with traces of Emmylou Harris and Aimee Mann.
Saturday, May 1
Brother Ali w/ Fashawn and BK-One @ Turner Hall Ballroom, 8 p.m.
Rhymesayers rapper Brother Ali does not make happy music. His
records channel the rage he felt being taunted as a kid, ridiculed for
his legal blindness and albinism, and the anger he feels toward his
country, frustrations he explored more bitingly on his inflammatory
2007 single “Uncle Sam Goddamn.” His 2007 album, The Undisputed Truth,
detailed his painful divorce and the nasty custody battle for his son,
and the rapper kept the bad times rolling on his 2009 record, Us, which
examines American injustices toward minorities. Opener Fashawn built up
strong word of mouth through mixtapes with Mick Boogie and the
Alchemist before releasing Boy Meets World, one of 2009’s most realized
debut rap albums.
Pezzettino @ The Eagle’s Nest, 7 p.m.
with an upside-down accordion and a deft understanding of the power of
social networking, in a few short years Pezzettino singer-songwriter
Margaret Stutt charmed local media and emerged as one of the city’s
most visible musicians. Now she’s saying goodbye. In advance of her
upcoming third album, Stutt is packing up her squeezebox and moving to
New York following tonight’s farewell show, but she has close ties to
the city, so it’s a safe bet that she’ll make regular return visits.
She’s already scheduled to play Summerfest’s Verge Music Festival on
Sunday, May 2
Shelby Lynne @ Turner Hall Ballroom, 8 p.m.
Shelby Lynne received a Grammy for “Best New Artist” in 2000, 10 years
after she had been writing and recording music for several labels. She
spent the ’90s recording mainstream country albums that never quite
seemed to suit her, but following her turn-ofthe-century comeback, the
singer went on to release a string of acclaimed albums that reinvented
her as a favorite of the new-Americana scene. Lynne’s latest album,
Tears, Lies, and Alibis, released this month, is a summation of her
strengths, touching on folk, alt-country and roots-rock while
spotlighting Lynne’s tough-as-nails songwriting.
Owl City @ The Rave, 6:30 p.m.
wallflower and Owl City brainchild Adam Young, one of last year’s
biggest music success stories, built such word of mouth through his
MySpace account that Universal Republic offered him a record contract.
It was a smart move: Young’s doe-eyed single “Fireflies” became one of
the year’s most inescapable hits. The synth-pop tune was remarkable
both for its sales (over 3 million) and its uncanny resemblance to The
Postal Service, right down to Young’s Ben Gibbard-esque whine.
Monday, May 3
Texas’ garage-pop trio Harlem was signed to Matador Records before
recording their new sophomore album Hippies, but you’d never guess they
had any sort of significant label backing judging from the album’s
no-fi production values. If Harlem had any sort of recording budget, it
must have gone toward beer; Hippies is a gloriously unlabored,
seriously fun rock ’n’ roll record, with peppy, traditionalist romps
balanced out by weirdo tunes seemingly written in the studio (if,
indeed, the album was even recorded in a studio). Harlem tops a bill
tonight celebrating the first anniversary of the Milwaukee music blog
Seizure Chicken, joined by a pair of local bands the blog has also
championed: Jaill and Worrier.
The Apples in Stereo @ Turner Hall Ballroom, 8 p.m.
The Apples in Stereo laid the foundation for what would become one of the defining indiepop sounds of the ’90s: upbeat tunes, sugar-coated melodies and symphonic flourishes, all wrapped into an unassuming, lo-fi package. They were the first band to record for the influential Elephant 6 Recording Company label, which singer Robert Schneider founded, and though they have never enjoyed quite the same levels of success and acclaim as some of their Elephant 6 peers, like Neutral Milk Hotel and Of Montreal, they retain a dedicated cult following. The group’s latest album, Travellers in Space and Time, is the first without founding member Hilarie Sidney (Schneider’s ex-wife), and it’s a true departure, basking in the robotic sounds of disco and electronic music.