This Week in Milwaukee: Jan. 16-22
Will Durst’s BoomeRaging: From LSD to OMG @ Next Act Theatre, 8 p.m.
Milwaukee-born satirist Will Durst has weighed in on the fractured state of the country for The New York Times, NPR and CNN, though his soapbox of choice is the Internet, where he posts regular commentary to his website and hosts a podcast. In his first book, 2008’s The All-American Sport of Bipartisan Bashing, and on his latest CD, Raging Moderate, Durst takes shots at both political parties, but for this one-man show, BoomeRaging: From LSD to OMG, Durst takes a break from his usual political rants to offer a genial rumination on the aging of the baby-boomer generation and all of the mixed emotions that invites. (Through Jan. 18.)
Briar Rabbit w/ St. James and Newlybreds @ Yield Bar, 9 p.m.
Briar Rabbit can claim at least one famous relative: His uncle is blues legend B.B. King. The young singer-songwriter doesn’t share King’s same bluesy muse, though. Instead he opts for a sweet, decidedly contemporary style of folk-pop, indebted to indie coffee shop singers and, at times, the proud bombast of arena folkies like Mumford and Sons. His newest album, From Your Bones, is a decidedly Chicago-minded affair, with production and mastering from Windy City jazz pianist Josh Moshier and Wilco engineer Mike Hagler, and guitar assists on several tracks from Tortoise’s Jeff Parker.
The Rural Alberta Advantage w/ Midnight Reruns @ Turner Hall Ballroom, 7 p.m.
Give credit to Toronto’s The Rural Alberta Advantage for its naming prowess: The group’s songs are indeed about the advantages to living in rural Alberta. Neutral Milk Hotel, to whom the band often gets compared, never wrote songs about neutral milk or milk hotels, or any dairy products in general. But The Rural Alberta Advantage has an uncommon sense of place. That place, the city where singer and songwriter Nils Edenloff grew up, is Fort McMurray, Alberta, an oil town in the middle of nowhere. The group’s 2009 album Hometowns was not only about the city, but also about the nostalgia of moving away. Above the distorted folk-pop acoustic guitars and behind Edenloff’s nasal voice there is the sense of loss from moving on, which carried through the group’s similarly jittery 2011 follow-up, Departing.
Friday, Jan. 17
Rusty Ps w/ Fresh Cut Collective @ Fire on Water, 9 p.m.
Born of the considerably more barren Milwaukee hip-hop scene of the mid-’90s, the Rusty Ps have in recent years taken on a role as the scene’s elder statesmen, playing shows and collaborating with the younger talent that now proliferates in the city. Like many of the city’s hip-hop acts, they idolize the genre as it existed in its earlier, party-friendly and uplifting incarnations, tapping old-school funk on recent singles like last year’s “Frequency.” For this show, they’ll be backed by Milwaukee’s preeminent live hip-hop band Fresh Cut Collective. There’s no cover.
Diarrhea Planet w/ Heavy Hand and Midwives @ Cactus Club, 10 p.m.
Given their name, it shouldn’t surprise anybody that Diarrhea Planet is a punk band, but this Nashville sextet takes their music more seriously than their throwaway moniker implies. Their ripping, power-metal-inspired homages to The Ramones are driven by four separate guitarists, all of whom work overtime to cram every nook and cranny of their boppy pop-punk tracks thick with hooks. The Ramones never wailed away on their guitars like this.
Saturday, Jan. 18
Pablove Benefit Concert @ Turner Hall Ballroom, 6:30 p.m.
Since losing his son Pablo to a Wilms’ tumor, Milwaukee native Jeff Castelaz has used his Pablove Foundation to increase awareness about childhood cancer and raise money for Children’s Hospital Los Angeles, where Pablo underwent treatment. A one-time staple of the Milwaukee music scene who managed the city’s most successful acts from the ’90s, including The Gufs, Citizen King and The Promise Ring, Castelaz assembles a litany of big names from the Milwaukee music scene (both past and present) for his annual Pablove benefit shows at Turner Hall Ballroom. Past years have seen reunions from bands like Pet Engine and Northern Room; this year’s bill will include a trio of reunited punk acts: Alligator Gun, The Benjamins and Subside. Those blasts from the past will be joined by two current local mainstays: Vic & Gab and Field Report’s Chris Porterfield.
Martin Short @ The Pabst Theater, 7 p.m.
Still brimming with youthful vigor at age 63, Martin Short has expanded his résumé in recent years, earning a Tony for his role in the musical Little Me and an Emmy nomination for his dramatic turn opposite Glenn Close on the TV series “Damages,” but he hasn’t abandoned the ebullient, eccentric comedy that first made him a star on “SCTV” and “Saturday Night Live.” For this performance as part of the Laugh It Up Milwaukee fundraiser, a benefit for the Harry & Rose Samson Family Jewish Community Center and the MACC Fund, Short will anchor a variety show featuring skits and songs, and reprise some of his most popular characters, including Ed Grimley.
Sunday, Jan. 19
San Fermin w/ Ryley Walker @ Turner Hall Ballroom, 7:30 p.m.
Composer Ellis Ludwig-Leone enlisted a lot of help for his self-titled debut as San Fermin. More than 20 players lend their voices and instruments to the chamber-pop project’s self-titled 2013 debut, including singer Allen Tate, a baritone crooner who often comes across like a more sober version of The National’s Matt Berninger. The album garnered plenty of glowing comparisons to Sufjan Stevens and Dirty Projectors, as well as high accolades from the New York Times and NPR, which deemed it one of the best records of 2013. After charming the Pabst Pub last fall, the ensemble returns to Milwaukee for this headlining show at the Turner Hall Ballroom, with an eight-piece lineup featuring Milwaukee native Rae Cassidy on vocals.