This Week in Milwaukee
The Spits, Arctic Monkeys and Mac Miller
THURSDAY, MAY 26
The Spits w/ TV Ghost and Plates @ Cactus Club, 9 p.m.
Like a lot of great punk bands, The Spits don't do too much that's new. The Seattle group is content to recycle parts from The Ramones, The Misfits and, on some of their more keyboardheavy songs, Devo. Even their lyrics seem borrowed from the '70s and '80s, with an obsession on nuclear fallout and Soviet espionage that's very much grounded in the Cold War. The Spits often perform in cheap Halloween costumes, dressing as vampires, mummies or Ronald Reagans.
Chinese Telephones w/ Tenement and Kurt Baker @ Circle-A Café, 8 p.m.
Milwaukee's Chinese Telephones churned out snot-nosed but bighearted pop-punk in the style of Screeching Weasel until 2008, when they broke up after releasing Democracy, , a compilation that collected the band's assorted vinyl-only output from 2004-2008. Thankfully, the breakup didn't last. Occasional reunion gigs gave way to semi-frequent in 2010, and now the band is preparing for a short tour with the Appleton pop-punk group Tenement. The tour coincides with the re-release of Chinese Telephones' out-of-print 2007 debut album.
FRIDAY, MAY 27
Truth & Salvage Co. w/ Jay Nash @ Shank Hall, 8 p.m.
Four-part warbling, country harmonies framed by Southern-rock guitars form the basis of Truth & Salvage Co.'s throwback ragtime tunes. The six-piece band formed in 2005 from the members of disbanded groups Scrappy Hamilton and Old Pike. After three years of touring, the band was discovered by Black Crowes' Chris Robinson, who signed them to his Silver Arrow record label, which released the band's 2009 Truth & Salvage Co. EP and 2010 self-titled debut full-length.
Pulp Fiction @ Turner Hall Ballroom, 8 p.m.
One of the defining films of the 1990s, Pulp Fiction was the “Seinfeld” of crime caper movies, with long stretches of amusingly mundane chatter tied together by wild coincidences. The film's success inspired a slew of knock-offs, rekindled John Travolta's career—thus making Battlefield Earth possible—and afforded director Quentin Tarantino the opportunity to make any film he wanted. See if you can spot the blink-and-you'll-miss-it Kathy Griffin cameo when the Turner Hall Ballroom screens Pulp Fiction tonight as part of its “Beer and a Movie” series at 8 p.m. following a 6:30 p.m. happy hour.
Arctic Monkeys w/ The Vaccines @ The Rave, 8 p.m.
The Arctic Monkeys have grown their sound considerably since their inaugural album, 2006's Whatever People Say I Am, That's What I'm Not, the fastest-selling debut record in British history. The Sheffield quartet amplified and sped up their infectious dance-rock on their follow-up, 2007's Favourite Worst Nightmare, keeping the hooks coming fast and furious. But the tempos slowed down considerably on 2009's Humbug, which was marked by psychedelic guitars and post-punk moodiness. The band's upcoming Suck It and See, set for a June 6 release, promises to reverse some of Humbug's steps away from accessibility, returning the band to the zippy pop-rock they do best.
SATURDAY, MAY 28
Revolush w/ Supermajor @ Club Garibaldi, 9 p.m.
Driven by Tommy Hahn's eager vocals and the spry guitar work of Bill Reuter and Maxwell Emmet, the Milwaukee quartet Revolush summons the propulsive power-pop of the '70s, taking cues from bands like Cheap Trick and XTC. David Vartanian, known for his work with artists like the Violent Femmes, Live and Crash Test Dummies, helped record Revolush's 2008 album, Arrivals, a rush of funky, confident rock 'n' roll.
Mac Miller w/ Curren$y @ The Rave, 7:30 p.m.
Nineteen-year-old Pittsburgh rapper and Wiz Khalifa protégé Mac Miller has caused a stir online by delivering hip-hop exactly the way many die-hards prefer it, indebted to the breezy, golden-age spirit of acts like Big L and A Tribe Called Quest. After a run of buzzed-about mixtapes, the rapper released the On and On and Beyond EP this March. For all the hype surrounding Mac Miller, though, it's a safe bet that a good chunk of the audience for this show will be there for opener Curren$y, a weed-loving former Master P and Lil Wayne affiliate who broke from those mentors after years of shelved projects. Produced primarily by rap veteran Ski Beatz, his two Pilot Talk albums last year proved to be his breakthroughs. He followed them up with this year's Alchemist-produced Covert Coup, a free album released on 4/20. Curren$y will keep his prolific streak going in June with his Warner Bros. debut Weekend At Burnie's, his sixth album in just three years.
SUNDAY, MAY 29
Godsmack @ The Rave, 8 p.m.
If there were a church dedicated to Alice in Chains, Godsmack would be there every Sunday.
Named for an Alice in Chains song and fronted by Sully Erna, a singer obviously indebted to the late Layne Staley, the group has even followed a similar trajectory as the renowned grunge band, moving from a harder, metal sound to more acoustic territory. They make more of a direct plea for the Ozzfest crowd than Alice in Chains would have, however. Their breakthrough single, “I Stand Alone,” was the aural equivalent of being punched in the genitals by a screaming professional wrestler who had just shot-gunned one too many Old Styles—which made it a fitting inclusion on The Scorpion King soundtrack. After flirting with acoustic sounds on recent albums, the band returned to roaring heavy metal on last year's The Oracle, which yielded the single “Cryin' Like a Bitch.”
MONDAY, MAY 30
Sully Erna @ The Rave, 8 p.m.
After 14 years fronting the post-grunge band Godsmack, 43-year-old Sully Erna decided to pursue a solo side project, trading in his earsplitting snarls to focus on intimate vocals and tender instrumentation. The rhythmic, spiritual feel of his fir st album, last year's Avalon, departs greatly from Godsmack's thunderous rock, channeling the fiery intensity of his heavy metal background into emotionally geared, unplugged songs. Following Sunday's Godsmack show at the same venue, Erna performs at the Rave with an eight-piece ensemble.