This Week in Milwaukee
Kanye West, Girl Talk and The Black Keys
THURSDAY, JUNE 30
Neon Trees @ U.S. Cellular Connection Stage, Summerfest, 8 p.m.
Provo, Utah, is usually known for Brigham Young football and Mormons, but with the debut album Habits of alt-rock band Neon Trees in 2010, you can add alternative rock to the list. Led by mohawked frontman Tyler Glenn and named after the illuminated shrubbery on the signs for fast-food joint In-N-Out Burger, the quartet hit it big with their first single, “Animal,” a lighthearted pop-rock ballad about love and lust that reached No. 13 on the Billboard charts.
Kanye West w/ Kid Cudi @ Marcus Amphitheater, Summerfest, 7:30 p.m.
No 2010 album was better reviewed than Kanye West's fifth record, My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, a schizophrenic prog-rap-pop masterpiece that garnered perfect scores from Rolling Stone, XXL, Pitchfork and Entertainment Weekly, among many other outlets. That West's album so won over the press was no small feat considering that it was released after a period of intense backlash against the egocentric Chicago rap star, following the infamous Taylor Swift incident at MTV's Video Music Awards. It's unclear what West has planned for this performance, his first time performing in Milwaukee and one of his two announced summer tour dates, but his recent concerts have been lavishly choreographed spectacles.
FRIDAY, JULY 1
Girl Talk @ Miller Lite Oasis, Summerfest,10 p.m.
It's becoming less and less likely that RIAA stormtroopers are going to raid a Girl Talk concert, handcuff DJ Gregg Gillis and haul away his laptop as evidence. No doubt, though, Gillis would love if that did happen. As Girl Talk, the mash-up master has milked career-creating publicity out of his brazen skirting of copyright laws, sampling liberally from countless classic and contemporary hits as if daring the music industry to come at him with a lawsuit. Realistically, though, the fear of negative publicity and the fact that the music industry has much, much bigger problems to worry about means that Gillis can keep making his party-friendly mixes without fear of a lawsuit. His latest album is last November's All Day, which he's offered for free download.
Paul Oakenfold @ The Rave, 8 p.m.
British trance DJ Paul Oakenfold's career has contained detours as a producer, an actor and, perhaps most surprising, a chef, but despite his many calling cards, his most viable contribution to the world is as a house-shaking remix-guru. His progressive, Balearic beats feature samples from Madonna and Justin Timberlake, while some of his more adventurous forays include remixing the James Bond theme song. Always thinking one step ahead, the eccentric Oakenfold is planning to break ground once again with his 2012 album Pop Killer, which promises collaborations with Cee Lo Green and the Red Hot Chili Peppers.
SATURDAY, JULY 2
Dope Folks Records Presents: Uptown Saturday Night @ Mad Planet, 9:30 p.m.
The hip-hop archaeologists at Milwaukee's Dope Folks Records specialize in old-school and golden-age rap, re-releasing forgotten relics to limited-edition vinyl. Tonight the label celebrates its first year—as well as its latest re-release, a record by the positive-minded '90s Philadelphia group Prophets of the Ghetto—by launching a new monthly at Mad Planet. The first Saturday of every month, they'll spin classic hip-hop, with an eye toward familiar hits and underground staples. Some nights will also feature appearances from old-school emcees; all will feature $2 PBRs until midnight.
Maroon 5 @ Miller Lite Oasis, Summerfest, 10 p.m.
Lead singer Adam Levine returns to his roots after a brief leave of absence to coach on NBC's “The Voice,” a show essentially about second chances and dreams come true. Fittingly, Maroon 5, one of Earth's biggest pop-rock power players, almost never made it. It took 26 months for their 2002 debut album, Songs About Jane, to crack the Billboard Top 10, a phenomenon that seems a distant memory now that singles like “Harder to Breathe,” “This Love” and “She Will Be Loved” are radio staples. The band's third and latest album, last year's Hands All Over, further plays up the band's funk and soul influences.
Stephen Marley @ Harley-Davidson Roadhouse, Summerfest, 10 p.m.
Even though he's the spitting image of his legendary father, Stephen Marley is his own man. After a string of inspired collaborations with his siblings Damian and Ziggy, the artist also known as Raggamuffin finally broke free from his familial ties with the 2007 debut Mind Control. Marley's scorching flow is showcased on rapid-fire tracks like “The Traffic Jam,” on which he spits verses in his nearly incomprehensible Jamaican patois and mixes old-school reggae with newschool hip-hop flair.
SUNDAY, JULY 3
Rise Against @ Miller Lite Oasis, Summerfest, 10 p.m.
Chicago-based punk rockers Rise Against were a brash, seething underground hit until their third album, Siren Song of the Counter Culture, was met with critical acclaim and mainstream radio play. The band's political lyricism and straight-edged lifestyles—they're vegans and ardent PETA supporters—have made them sort of the great white buffalo in an era of conformity and copycats, but their chops on face-melters like “Prayer of the Refugee” prove they can chow down on salad and still produce furiously kick-ass music.
Blue Öyster Cult @ M&I Classic Rock Stage, Summerfest, 10 p.m.
Best known for producing the morbid love song “Don't Fear the Reaper,” one of the single most enduring hits of the 1970s, Blue Öyster Cult has managed to stay relevant despite not recording any new music in more than 10 years. Partial credit for the band's longevity is due to their distinctive, psychedelic stylings and psychologically deep lyrics that help to keep them from one-trick-pony status. Still, every group needs a go-to move, and “Don't Fear the Reaper” has proven to be one of the greatest signatures of all time.
MONDAY, JULY 4
Dave Alvin @ Shank Hall, 8 p.m.
Although Dave Alvin helped charge the roots-rock scene in the early '80s with groups like The Blasters and The Knitters, commercial success evaded him. His luck changed in 1989, when Dwight Yoakam scored a country hit with Alvin's song “Long White Cadillac.” Alvin used the royalties to finance his excellent 1991 album, Blue Blvd., which cemented his reputation as a solo artist. The album's 1994 follow-up, King of California, refocused his attention on acoustic music, and in 2000 Alvin recorded a collection of traditional folk and blues classics, Public Domain: Songs from the Wild Land, which won a Grammy for best traditional folk album. His latest album, Eleven Eleven, his 11th, returns him to electric territory, showcasing his blazing guitar work.
TUESDAY, JULY 5
Wiz Khalifa @ Harley-Davidson Roadhouse, Summerfest, 10 p.m.
Back when a teenaged Wiz Khalifa began his run of name-making mixtapes in 2005, few would have predicted the scrawny, bloodshot-eyed Philadelphian to become such a crossover success, but his 2010 hit “Black and Yellow” made him one of last year's breakthrough rap stars. Released this March on Atlantic, Khalifa's major-label debut closely follows the template of that hit, with flashy production from hit-making producers like Stargate, I.D. Labs and Jim Jonsin, and songs that lean on big, repeated hooks over Khalifa's mellow rapping.
Def Leppard w/ Heart @ Marcus Amphitheater, Summerfest, 7:30 p.m.
Def Leppard, the legendary heavy metal slashers from across the pond, achieved universal success with their fourth studio album, Hysteria, a loud, sky-ripping collection of chart-toppers like “Pour Some Sugar on Me” that went 12-times platinum in the United States. That was 1987. Now in the 19th year of the band's current lineup, which includes lead belter Joe Elliott and the onearmed wunderkind Rick Allen, the bombastic Brits this year followed up their 2008 studio album, Songs From the Sparkle Lounge, with the live document Mirrorball: Live & More. Tourmates Heart, meanwhile, are coming off of their highest-charting album in 20 years, 2010's Red Velvet Car.
WEDNESDAY, JULY 6
Morris Day and The Time @ Harley-Davidson Roadhouse, Summerfest, 9:30 p.m.
Few people know for certain who recorded exactly what on The Time's first three albums, since it's commonly believed that Prince performed most of those albums himself, with minimal contributions from the noose-tight funk-rock band beyond Morris Day's vocals. The Time's original lineup dissolved shortly after the 1990 album Pandemonium yielded their biggest hit, “Jerk Out,” with keyboardist Jerry Jam and bassist Terry Lewis going on to produce many of the 1990s' most memorable R&B hits, but Day continued touring in their absence until the classic lineup reunited in 2008.
The Black Keys w/ Florence + The Machine and Cage The Elephant @ Marcus Amphitheater, 7:30 p.m.
No Marcus Amphitheater headliner announcement was greeted with more surprise than that of The Black Keys. Fans couldn't believe that the lo-fi blues-rock duo of guitarist Dan Auerbach and drummer Patrick Carney was now headlining the same venue as Kanye West and Katy Perry, but after last year's commercial breakthrough Attack & Release, its hit singles “Tighten Up” and “Howlin' for You” and a bunch of Grammy nominations, the duo is now one of rock's most indemand bands. A couple of popular opening acts will certainly help drive ticket sales, including the soulful art-pop group Florence + The Machine, which had their own breakthrough moment last year with a dazzling performance at MTV's Video Music Awards.
The Black Keys