This Week in Milwaukee
Patton Oswalt, YACHT & Free Comic Book Day
THURSDAY, MAY 5
Kinky Friedman w/ Jim Hoehn @ Shank Hall, 8 p.m.
Singer, novelist, satirist and would-be politician Richard "Kinky" Friedman doesn't like to limit himself when it comes to his career options. After playing music with his first band, King Arthur and the Carrots, at the University of Texas at Austin, Friedman served two years in the Peace Corps, where he met his road manager Dylan Ferrero. Since then, he has refined his sardonic country rock as a solo act and with various backing band lineups, producing controversial numbers like "They Ain't Makin' Jews Like Jesus Anymore" and comedic songs such as "Get Your Biscuits in the Oven and Your Buns in the Bed." After a lull in his music career, Friedman took up writing and running for office, placing fourth in the 2006 Texas gubernatorial race, but he has recently decided to take up touring again.
Blue October w/ The Soldier Thread @ The Pabst Theater, 8 p.m.
The Texas modern-rock quintet Blue October draws from the lighter sounds of late-'90s alternative rock. With their swooning choruses and post-grunge angst, the band's breakout 2006 singles "Hate Me" and "Into the Ocean" played like relics from MTV's 1997 buzz bin, so it's not surprising that they were embraced by alternative-radio formats that have never moved beyond that decade. Perhaps the group's biggest break came when Twilight scribe Stephenie Meyer heartily endorsed the group, introducing them to her massive fan base. In
2010, Blue October recorded a series of acoustic concerts for their upcoming album Ugly Side: An Acoustic Evening With Blue October, which will set the tone for tonight's acoustic performance.
Captured! By Robots w/ The Pills @ Cactus Club, 10 p.m.
When Jay Vance, former bassist of the ska-punk outfits Skankin' Pickle and Blue Meanies, built a few robot musicians to jam with, he unwittingly sowed the seeds of his (and our) downfall. He was promptly enslaved by his robotic creations, who have forced him to tour the country, humiliating himself and exposing the pitiful nature of humanity as a whole. While Captured! By Robots' clanging, humorous punk is clever enough, the music is overshadowed by the sheer spectacle of watching Vance's homemade automatons bring it all to life.
Air Sex World Championships @ The Stonefly Brewery, 10 p.m.
A more esoteric cousin of the already-esoteric Air Guitar contests that tour the country, the Austin-based Air Sex World Championships invite challengers to act out making sweet, sweet love to the music of their choice. The two key rules: No nudity is allowed, and all orgasms must be simulated.
FRIDAY, MAY 6
Patton Oswalt @ The Pabst Theater, 9 p.m.
From unassuming beginnings as a writer for "MADtv" and a co-star on "King of Queens," hardly two of the most cherished modern comedy institutions, Patton Oswalt has emerged as one of the most respected comedians of his time. That has as much to do with his smart stand-up act, which is marked by deft commentary on both pop and geek culture as well as ruminations on big-picture topics, as much as it does Oswalt's fantastic acting turns. Since winning over families as a lovable rodent in Ratatouille, Oswalt has upped his cachet with a string of well-chosen supporting roles in a series of cult comedy and sci-fi programs, and impressed critics with a violent starring role in the 2009 independent drama Big Fan
Lewis Black @ The Riverside Theater, 8 p.m.
Breaking into the popular consciousness with his regular "Back in Black" segments on "The Daily Show with Jon Stewart," comedian Lewis Black tapped a seemingly bottomless well of anger and vitriol, like a funnier version of the "mad as hell and not going to take it anymore" Howard Beale rant from Sidney Lumet's film Network. As the funnyman gained more exposure, it became apparent that there was more to Black than his inflamed political diatribes, and his longer stand-up specials revealed a man with as much vulnerability and political insight as rage. Although he regularly surfaces in supporting film roles and on television, Black's real calling is performing live, which he does more than 200 nights out of the year, so expect a polished set— and a lot of yelling.
YACHT w/ Light Asylum and Jeffrey Jerusalem @ Turner Hall Ballroom, 9 p.m.
The electro-pop group YACHT's capitalized moniker stems not from nautical fancy; rather, it represents the band's willingness to experiment with synth-focused, exultant dance tunes. Frontman and multiinstrumentalist Jona Bechtolt's enrollment at the Young Americans Challenging High Technology (YACHT) alternative school inspired not only the name of his band, but also the musical style he chose to manipulate. Though YACHT began as Bechtolt's solo project, it has expanded into a full band including vocalist Claire Evans. Following 2009's See Mystery Lights, the group has scheduled its second album for James Murphy's DFA label for release this summer.
SATURDAY, MAY 7
Toki Wright w/ Yakub and Kid Cut Up @ Bay View Brew Haus, 9:30 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, issued his 2009 debut album, A Different Mirror. Showcasing soulful, meat-and-potatoes hip-hop beats and Wright's loose, reggae-accented flow, that record and its 2010 follow-up EP, BlackMale, recall Mos Def and Talib Kweli's early work as Black Star.
Free Comic Book Day @ Multiple Locations
With hopes of indoctrinating future customers, nearly 2,000 comic-book stores will be handing out free comics as part of the 10th annual Free Comic Book Day promotion. Included among the freebies are special issues of the Spider-Man, Star Wars, Green Lantern and Thor series, as well as trial issues of Mickey Mouse and Archie Comics for younger readers. Awesomely, there will also be a free issue of Discovery Channel's Top 10 Deadliest Sharks, for readers who like to live every Free Comic Book Day like it's Toki Wright Shark Week.
Wishbone Ash @ Shank Hall, 8 p.m.
As sometimes happens to long-running classic rock bands that endure complicated lineup changes, there are now two competing touring formations of the seminal prog-rock group Wishbone Ash. The one that plays Shank Hall tonight is the more established, better regarded of the two, led by original guitarist Andy Powell. When Powell seized control of the band in the mid-'90s, he led the group in some unorthodox directions—infamously recording a pair of dance-inspired records that weirded out longtime fans—but he's since returned the group to its roots, recording a number of nostalgic live albums and the 2007 studio album Power of Eternity.
SUNDAY, MAY 8
The Felice Brothers w/ Shovels and Rope @ Turner Hall Ballroom, 8 p.m.
Roots-rock brethren The Felice Brothers grew up playing together during their father's weekly Sunday afternoon barbecues in the Catskill Mountains, serenading the guests with their folk harmonies. Though the band has expanded to include members outside of the Felice gene pool since taking their act on the road , the band still retains that same familial feel and genuine appreciation for early, Appalachian-style Americana. This show comes days before the official release of their latest album, Celebration, Florida, a follow-up to 2009's Yonder Is the Clock.
TUESDAY, MAY 10
Brooke Fraser @ Turner Hall Ballroom, 8 p.m.
Folk-pop singer/songwriter Brooke Fraser has enjoyed popularity in her native New Zealand since releasing her 2003 debut album, What to Do With Daylight, but it was her most recent album, 2010's Flags, that netted her the most international attention, thanks to its stomping, country-tinged single "Something in the Water." Much of Flags is similarly peppy, emphasizing bright, snap-along tempos over post-Lilith Fair, adult-contemporary weepiness.