This Week in Milwaukee
Thursday, March 22
Delta Spirit w/ Waters @ Turner Hall Ballroom, 7 p.m.
A whiff of the sinister ran through Delta Spirit's revival-spiked indie rock on the California group's 2010 full-length, History From Below, with songs like "9/11," "Salt in the Wound" and "Devil Knows You're Dead" touching on darker subjects than tunes from similarly hand-clap-heavy acts like Cold War Kids ever would. That record made great use of the angry, bluesy tones in singer Matthew Vasquez's earthy voice, but the group's just-released self-titled album lets some brightness in. The new record is the band's most accessible yet, with a radio-friendly polish that could earn the group some real airtime.
Friday, March 23
Andrew W.K. w/ Math the Band and Aleister X @ The Rave, 7:30 p.m.
In the decade since his major-label debut I Get Wet made him an instant icon, hard-rock animal Andrew W.K. has followed some curious whims. He became a motivational speaker, began making regular appearances on Fox News' "Red Eye w/ Greg Gutfeld," hosted the Cartoon Network game show "Destroy Build Destroy," recorded a Kit Kat jingle, produced an album for reggae legend Lee "Scratch" Perry and, most bizarrely, released an album of solo new-age piano music, 55 Cadillac. Lately the musician has been recapturing his original rowdy muse. Last year he released the EP Party All Goddamn Night, and his current tour marks the 10th anniversary of I Get Wet, which he will perform in its entirety.
Boyz II Men @ Potawatomi Bingo Casino, 8 p.m.
Thanks to a steady succession of powerhouse hits in the '90s, including the mega-ballads "I'll Make Love to You" and "End of the Road," Boyz II Men still holds claim to being the most commercially successful R&B act of all time, even if recent albums haven't sold as well as their Clinton-era blockbusters. Since the 2003 departure of Michael McCary (the bassy one) left them a trio, the group has continued to record steadily, including several covers albums (2007's Motown: A Journey Through Hitsville USA and 2009's Love, both of which were produced by Randy Jackson) and last year's Twenty, which features 13 new songs and a second disc of re-recorded Boyz II Men staples.
Henry Rollins @ Turner Hall Ballroom, 7 p.m.
Punk icon Henry Rollins cut his teeth on hardcore music, fronting Black Flag and then Rollins Band, but these days he has another outlet for his anger: spoken word. Now a blogger for Vanity Fair and the host of a weekly radio program (he's also the former host of the Independent Film Channel's "The Henry Rollins Show"), he tours behind long, entertaining rants about politics, music, culture and anything else that's been occupying his mind lately. Last fall he released his latest book, Occupants, a collection of photos from his extensive world travels, which he accompanied with short political essays.
Saturday, March 24
Jane's Addiction w/ Black Box Revelation @ The Rave, 8:30 p.m.
Perhaps no band better bridged the chasm between sleazy, Sunset Strip glam-metal and arty alternative rock better than Jane's Addiction, the group that helped lay the groundwork for what frontman Perry Farrell described as "the Alternative Nation." Since disbanding in 1991 (with a farewell tour that launched the Lollapalooza music festival), the group has reunited on and off. One of those reunions yielded the band's third album, 2003's Strays, a straightforward, radio-ready effort curiously lacking in the off-kilter energy that had once seemed to be the band's raison d'être. Last year's The Great Escape Artist is more adventurous. That record paired the band with TV on the Radio's Dave Sitek, who played bass and lent the record an uneasy, electronic edge.
Andrew Bird w/ Eugene Mirman @ The Riverside Theater, 7 p.m.
Andrew Bird first gained exposure in the late '90s as a member of the neo-swing movement, playing with bands like the Squirrel Nut Zippers. By his 2001 album with his band Bowl of Fire, The Swimming Hour, though, he had moved beyond swing to explore a much more complicated pastiche of jazz, rock, folk and world sounds. That album paved the way for his subsequent solo albums, the latest of which is the new Break It Yourself, a typically lovely baroque-pop record. In concert, Bird revels in taking bold risks, often looping himself, leaving plenty of room for error so his songs sound different each night. He shares tonight's show with Eugene Mirman, a standup comic who has also appeared on "Flight of the Conchords" and "Bob's Burgers."
Sunday, March 25
Mike Doughty @ Shank Hall, 8 p.m.
Mike Doughty has a love/hate relationship with his '90s alt-rock band Soul Coughing. On the one hand, the group gave him his first taste of fame, thanks to hits like "Super Bon Bon" and "Circles," and laid the groundwork for the low-key solo career he now sustains. On the other hand, that brush with fame led to a heroin addiction that nearly killed him, and he doesn't have many kind words for his former band mates. Doughty dishes about his Soul Coughing years in his new memoir, The Book of Drugs. He'll read from that book tonight at an appearance that will also feature a solo performance and an audience Q&A session.
B.B. King @ Potawatomi Bingo Casino, 8 p.m.
It's easy to take B.B. King for granted. For more than 60 years the elder statesman of blues has been touring rigorously, barely slowing down even as he entered his 80s. It was a sobering moment, then, when the widely influential guitarist announced his "farewell tour" in 2006. Fans who had gotten used to seeing King annually were forced to imagine a world where he would no longer be headlining their favorite blues festivals. Within a year or two, though, the legend was back on the road, touring as vigorously as ever. Even at 86, King has no plans of retiring, as this week's three-night stand at the Potawatomi Bingo Casino's Northern Lights Theater makes clear. (Through Tuesday, March 27.)
Kevin Smith @ The Pabst Theater, 6:30 p.m.
Outspoken filmmaker Kevin Smith inspires such devotion from his fans that he's made something of a second career out of talking about being Kevin Smith. The Clerks director's frequent Q&A appearances, where he geeks about his work as well as all things sci-fi, pop-culture and comic books, have been documented in a series of DVD releases; Smith also hosts multiple podcasts in which he discusses every topic imaginable. Each ticket for tonight's Q&A appearance includes an autographed copy of his latest book Tough Sh*t: Life Advice from a Fat, Lazy Slob Who Did Good.
Wednesday, March 28
Hunx and His Punx w/ Heavy Cream and Holy Shit! @ The Cactus Club, 9 p.m.
Hunx and His Punx frontman Seth Bogart is gay in both senses of the word, and with his band he writes enthusiastic, garage-punk songs about lovesick youth that are one part Ramones, one part John Waters (some of them could have come right out of Hairspray). The band's early single "You Don't Like Rock 'n' Roll" charmed punk circles; last year's full-length Too Young to Be in Love proved it wasn't a fluke. Bogart's latest record, Hairdresser Blues, is a solo album credited simply to Hunx, and though its songwriting takes a markedly more personal turn, it still delivers plenty of bubblegum thrills.