This Week in Milwaukee
Maxwell, Fresh Cut Collective, Brian Jonestown Massacre and Holy Fuck
Thursday, May 27
Maxwell w/ Jill Scott @ The Bradley Center, 7 p.m.
With his 1996 debut Maxwell’s Urban
Hang Suite, Maxwell helped establish mellow, groove-based neo-soul as a
commercially viable alternative to the more dance-based R&B of the
time, but after his 2001 album, Now, he willfully retreated from the
spotlight for some extended downtime. It took eight years, but he
returned in top form on 2009’s BLACKsummers’night, an elegant, utterly
gorgeous record that swiftly returned the singer to the airwaves and
earned him a pair of Grammys. His profi le higher than ever, he’ll share
tonight’s show with opener Jill Scott, the neo-soul everywoman who is
performing in advance of her upcoming album The Light of the Sun.
Moonalice @ Shank Hall, 8 p.m.
six-piece group comprised of veteran session players inspired by the
tour-heavy business model of younger jam bands, Moonalice plays swampy,
bluesy roots rock that allows for ample improvisational tangents. When
the group returns to Milwaukee tonight, it will be without perhaps
their most famous member: G.E. Smith, who is best remembered as the
grinning guitarist and musical director of “Saturday Night Live” from
1985 to 1995. Smith played his final show with Moonalice on New Year’s
Eve, moving on to play guitar with Roger Waters.
Friday, May 28
In its fifth year, the Miltown Beat Down beat-making battle moved to a bigger venue and placed more emphasis on between-battle entertainment, so it’s fitting that the event has roped in some big names to supplement tonight’s fi nal showdown. Tonight, the four remaining producers 40 Mil, Zeekzilla, Lex Luther and DJ Peru will compete for the crown on a bill they’ll share with former Roc-a-Fella rapper Freeway, who this year with underground producer Jake One released The Stimulus Package, an acclaimed album for the Rhymesayers label. Also on the bill are producer Vitamin D, mainstay local DJs Kid Cut Up and Madhatter, and Milwaukee rapper Frankie Flowers.
Josh Rouse w/ AM @ Turner Hall Ballroom, 8 p.m.
Roots-pop singer-songwriter Josh
Rouse’s army brat upbringing led him to write a series of inspired concept
albums about the many places he’s lived. His 1998 debut Dressed Up Like Nebraska honored his native state, while 2005’s Nashville
reflected on his move to Tennessee.
Rouse’s recent albums have explored the culture shock following an even more
dramatic relocation to Spain,
where in 2007 he recorded an EP with his soon-to-be wife Paz Suay, She’s Spanish, I’m American. The title
of his latest disc, El Turista,
suggests Rouse still doesn’t feel completely at home in his new country.
Saturday, May 29
For those within the industrial metal
community, seasoned Roadrunner Records veterans Fear Factory are
considered one of the genre’s most reliable entities, enormously
influential for their unique hybridization of disparate hard rock
elements. Although the band has been slowed by frequent lineup and
hiatuses since the millennium, they’ve still managed to record a
rewarding series of concept albums written around dramatic sci-fi
imagery, the latest of which, Mechanize, was released in February.
Fresh Cut Collective @ Mad Planet, 9 p.m.
bands tend to fall back on bland, anonymous grooves, as the actual
music takes a backseat to the raps, but Milwaukee’s Fresh Cut Collective
escapes this trap, giving the six players who back rapper Adebisi
plenty to do. With Black Elephant and Growing Nation off the circuit,
Fresh Cut Collective filled a niche as one of the city’s few live
hip-hop acts, and the group found its audience quickly through strong
word-ofmouth, even before the group had any recorded music to support.
Tonight they celebrate the release of their self-titled album, which
throws down shifty dub beats and limber soul-funk jams.
The Brian Jonestown Massacre @ Turner Hall Ballroom, 8 p.m.
Jonestown Massacre’s Anton Newcombe is modern psychedelic rock’s answer
to The Game, an erratic frontman who runs his mouth off and beefs with
any and everyone possible, usually the nearest person to him. During his
concerts that nearest somebody is sometimes in his own band (with which
he once broke into a fistfight on stage), though it could also be
someone in the audience (the 2004 documentary DiG! detailed him kicking
an audience member in the head). Of course, most Brian Jonestown
Massacre shows go without such sensational incidents, but stories like
these have given the band an almost mythical aura in certain rock
circles—even though they’ve come at the expense of the greater,
major-label success that once seemed like a sure thing for this group.
Sunday, May 30
Manzarek and Robby Krieger of The Doors @ The Pabst Theater, 8 p.m.
Ray Manzarek and guitarist Robby Krieger of The Doors want nothing more
than to continue performing the band’s music, but with The Doors’
iconic singer Jim Morrison dead and drummer John Densmore dead set
against seeing the band’s legacy exploited in any way, it hasn’t always
been easy. Manzarek and Krieger began touring in 2002 as The Doors of
the 21st Century before a legal injunction from Densmore forced them to
drop that name. They re-branded themselves D21C, then Riders on the
Storm, then yet again as Manzarek-Krieger before settling on the blunt
“Ray Manzarek and Robby Krieger of The Doors.” Further complicating
their efforts, the pair’s touring lineup has been as unstable as their
touring name. The latest vocalist to volunteer for the impossible task
of filling Jim Morrison’s shoes is Miljenko Matijevic of the hard-rock
band Steelheart. He replaces Fuel singer Brett Scallions.
Mouth of the Architect w/ Northless and Enabler @ The Cactus Club, 10 p.m.
cerebral keys, tortured guitar delay and literary spoken-word passages,
Dayton, Ohio’s Mouth of the Architect avoid metal’s stereotypical,
nihilistic malaise, and in doing so has earned a prestigious buzz in
underground metal circles. As if to further distance themselves from
metal clichés, the group titled its 2008 album Quietly, its title on the
album cover typed in an eloquent cursive font instead of the usual
doom-and-gloom gothic lettering. The group’s new EP The Violence Beneath
is typically varied, balancing aggressive sludge metal with prettier
passages. It includes an unlikely cover of Peter Gabriel’s “In Your
Wednesday, June 2
Buffett @ The Pabst Theater, 6 p.m.
Milwaukee resident Peter Buffett—the son of power-investor Warren
Buffett—has been recording pop and new age albums since the late ’80s,
but has found the most success composing material for fi lm and
television. His contribution to the Dances With Wolves soundtrack kept
work coming steadily throughout the ’90s, a decade that culminated in an
Emmy for his score of the 1999 documentary Wisconsin: An American
Portrait. In recent years Buffett has incorporated modern electronica
and indie-rock influences into his albums. Tonight he’ll appear at
the Pabst Theater not only as a musician but also as an author,
promoting his self-help book Life Is What You Make It: Find Your Own
Path to Fulfillment. The concert is a benefit for 88.9 Radio
Holy Fuck w/ Nice Nice @ Mad Planet, 8 p.m.
A Toronto group not nearly as incendiary as their name suggests, Holy Fuck plays electronic music using only traditional live instrumentation, with no laptops, samples or drum programming. The band’s emphasis on live percussion gives their records intricate textures and an energy that traditional electronica acts can’t recreate, and their experimental aesthetic and pop sensibility has helped position them as an indie-rock alternative to the similarly instrumental “livetronica” bands embraced by jam-music circles.
The group’s third and latest album, Latin, released this May on XL Recordings, has been embraced by indie-music blogs and dance-music circles alike, peaking at #14 on the Billboard Dance charts.