This Week in Milwaukee
Thursday, June 21
Eric Hutchinson w/ Avalanche City @ Turner Hall Ballroom, 7 p.m.
With the help of some enthusiastic praise from celebrity blogger Perez Hilton, Washington, D.C., pop-rock songwriter Eric Hutchinson rebounded from an unproductive stint on Madonna's Maverick Records, which shut down before he could release an album, and built an audience as an independent artist. His self-starter mentality paid off; he soon signed with Warner Bros., which released his latest record, the breezy Moving Up Living Down. His Milwaukee performance follows his recent appearance on "Conan," where he performed his latest single, "Watching You Watch Him."
America w/ Sam Llanas @ The Pabst Theater, 7 p.m.
In their heyday, folk-rockers America made it cool to be uncool, wearing thick glasses and Hawaiian shirts as they sang largely acoustic hits like "A Horse With No Name," "Ventura Highway," "Lonely People" and "Sister Golden Hair." Singer/guitarist Dan Peek left the band in the late '70s to pursue a career in Christian music—he passed away last year—but remaining members Dewey Bunnell and Gerry Beckley have carried on as a duo, touring regularly. In 2007 they released an album that made a fine case for their influence on contemporary folk-rock, the typically easygoing Here & Now, which featured guest spots from Ryan Adams, Ben Kweller and members of My Morning Jacket and Nada Surf.
Tour of America's Dairyland @ Village of Shorewood, 5 p.m.
The Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board's Tour of America's Dairyland returns for another round of pro-am cycling races. Through July 1, the tour will host multiple races in cities and neighborhoods around Milwaukee and nearby counties, with races for different skill groups and age levels. The event begins today in Shorewood, and continues with races in East Troy on June 22; Grafton on June 23; Waukesha on June 24; and Schlitz Park on June 26. For all dates and locations, visit tourofamericasdairyland.com.
Friday, June 22
Greek Fest @ Wisconsin State Fair Park, 11 a.m.
Meat lovers should bring an empty stomach this weekend to the Wisconsin State Fair Park, which will be hosting the city's annual Greek Fest, now in its 47th year, for the fourth time. Gyros, chicken kebabs, baklava, saganaki (flaming cheese) and loukoumades (honey puffs) will be among the traditional Greek cuisine available at the event, which will also feature Greek music and dancing, a market filled with imported artifacts and goods, and an expanded cultural area, in addition to the fair grounds' usual offering of family rides and games. (Through Sunday, June 24.)
Elusive Parallelograms w/ Worrier, Red Stuff and Moss Folk @ Cactus Club, 10 p.m.
Drawing from the psychedelic jangle of '80s underground-rock bands and the electric charge of '90s alternative rockers, Milwaukee's Elusive Parallelograms turned out a set of snappy, unpredictable pop rock on their 2009 full-length debut, And Everything Changes. Though the band took their time completing that album and its similarly sharp follow-up, 2011's Modern Splendor, they've since dedicated themselves to recording at a faster clip. This winter they released Habits, a lush, multilayered surge of sound on scale with a Butch Vig-produced blockbuster, balanced by the scrappy pop sensibilities of the Elephant 6 collective. Just five months later, they'll release the new EP Spaces at this show.
Saturday, June 23
Summer Soulstice Music Festival @ North Avenue, noon
Where the East Side's Summer Soulstice Music Festival has featured national headliners in years past, including such acts as Sponge and Local H, in the last couple of years the event has wisely reserved most of its lineup for big-draw local bands. This year's typically rich lineup includes Herman Astro, Hugh Bob and the Hustle, Maritime, I'm Not a Pilot, The Celebrated Workingman, Trapper Schoepp and the Shades, Undercover Organism, Vic and Gab, Shoot Down the Moon, John the Savage, Boy Blue, the Jeanna Salzer Trio and a hip-hop showcase with The Hollowz, Rusty Ps and MC Oneself. There will also be kids' activities, bocce ball courts and BMX demonstrations.
Wednesday, June 27
Lupe Fiasco @ Harley-Davidson Roadhouse, Summerfest, 10 p.m.
If the predominant narrative of rap's first 20 years was the genre's rise to prominence and respectability, then the story of the last decade has been about how the genre has responded to that status. This is a story that plays out at the individual level, with each rapper coping differently. Some have embraced fame and all of its privileges; others have struggled to reconcile the trade-offs of fame with their values. Few of them have struggled more than Lupe Fiasco, the Chicago rapper who emerged as a principled alternative to more conventional rap stars in the mid-'00s. When his label pressured him to commercialize his sound on his third album, 2011's Lasers, he resisted at first, insisting the disc would be his most political yet, but he eventually acquiesced, recording the Modest Mouse-sampling hit "The Show Goes On." The resulting album is an odd compromise, divided between unabashed, crowd-pleasing pop songs and resentful political sermons. The album's commercial success probably gives Lupe more creative control over his next album, but how he'll use it is anybody's guess.
Steve Miller Band @ BMO Harris Pavilion, Summerfest, 10 p.m.
Esteemed blues guitarist Steve Miller, one of the most successful musicians ever to come out of Milwaukee, crossed over into pop-rock stardom with the 1973 album The Joker. Singles came easily to him for the rest of the decade and into the '80s, including classic-rock standards like "Rock'n Me," "Fly Like an Eagle," "Take the Money and Run" and "Abracadabra." After nearly 15 years spent away from the studio, the band released a pair of new albums over the last couple of years, 2010's Bingo! and 2011's Let Your Hair Down, both of which return Miller to the searing, electric-blues sound of his very earliest recordings.
We Came as Romans @ Summerfest Rock Stage, Summerfest, 10 p.m.
In a metalcore scene dominated by indecipherable screamers and overdone breakdowns, the Detroit sextet We Came as Romans offers a refreshing change of pace. They set themselves apart from similar groups with their sophisticated, symphonic arrangements, prominently showcasing piano and cello. Just as striking, though, is the group's positive message, which is unusual for a genre fixated on doom. Singer Kyle Pavone and screamer David Stephens create an unexpectedly hope-filled conversation with their dueling voices, while guitarist and lyricist Joshua Moore's words blend brutal honesty with love and optimism. Though the group's latest album, 2011's Understanding What We've Grown to Be, addresses some harsher themes than their 2009 debut, To Plant a Seed, it ends on a note of redemption and affirmation.