This Week in Milwaukee: Jan. 30-Feb. 5
Galactic w/ The Stepkids @ Turner Hall Ballroom, 7 p.m.
New Orleans’ Galactic is one of the few bands in the jam scene to attempt hip-hop without embarrassing themselves. Unlike all the bands that condescend with novelty covers of contemporary rap hits, Galactic challenge themselves with more thoughtful, complex hip-hop rhythms. Of course, it helps that instead of relying on a dreadlocked novice rapper, they outsource established emcees to do the rapping for them. In the past they’ve toured with Chali 2na of the Jurassic 5 and Boots Riley of The Coup, though they toned down the hip-hop influences a bit on their 2011 live album The Other Side of Midnight: Live in New Orleans to focus on the more traditional sounds of their city.
Patty Griffin w/ Anais Mitchell @ Shank Hall, 8 p.m.
More so than many genres, folk music rewards its veterans. Though Patty Griffin’s career got off to a slow start and she was dropped from a record contract that never quite fit her in the late ’90s, her reputation grew over the years, as heavy hitters like Emmylou Harris, Robert Plant and The Dixie Chicks either sang her praises or covered her songs. Last year she released two albums: the intriguingly stripped down American Kid, a tribute to her late father, and her lost album Silver Bell, which was recorded with producer Daniel Lanois for A&M Records in 2000 but spent more than a decade on the label’s shelves. That the label finally released the album is a testament to just how far Griffin has come over the years.
Friday, Jan. 31
The Musical Box: Selling England By The Pound @ The Pabst Theater, 7 p.m.
Among Genesis diehards, 1973’s Selling England By The Pound holds a special place. It was the band’s fifth album, and it introduced the group to its widest audience yet by pairing ambitious prog-rock arrangements with some of the band’s most direct and rocking songs ever. One of the best-known Genesis tribute bands (and one licensed by Peter Gabriel and the rest of Genesis), Canada’s The Musical Box is playing the album in its entirety for their current tour, going to painstaking lengths to recreate the band’s performances from that era down to the smallest detail. It’s not quite like seeing Genesis in their prime, but it’s as close as new fans will ever get.
Direct Hit Benefit w/ Heavy Hand, Lambs Legs, Soup Moat and
Midwives @ Riverwest Public House, 9 p.m.
Some bands just have bum luck. The Milwaukee pop-punk group Direct Hit had a 2013 they’d rather forget about, first losing their equipment to a fire then having their van and replacement equipment stolen six months later in Detroit. This weekend some punk-leaning local bands will play a pair of benefit shows at the Riverwest Public House to help their peers recover a little bit of the loss. Heavy Hand, Lambs Legs, Soup Moat and Midwives will share Friday’s lineup; The Revenge Society, Spruce Bringstreen and Deadest will play Saturday. Direct Hit isn’t on either bill, but they’ll headline a free show at the venue in a few weeks, on Feb. 15.
Saturday, Feb. 1
Dark Star Orchestra @ The Pabst Theater, 7 p.m.
The Grateful Dead has inspired its share of tribute bands, but none more elaborate than the Chicago-based Dark Star Orchestra. The group’s members operate as musical historians, not only recreating historic set lists from the Dead’s 2,500 performances song by song, but also arranging the stage, replicating the visual imagery and even adjusting the band’s personnel to mirror the Dead’s lineup from whatever era the set stems from. That attention to detail hasn’t gone unnoticed. The band has received its own tributes when Grateful Dead members and alums including Bob Weir, Bill Kreutzmann and Donna Jean Godchaux-MacKay joined them on stage. Dark Star Orchestra’s founding guitarist John Kadlecik has even gone on to join Weir and Dead bassist Phil Lesh in their latest band, Further.
Sunday, Feb. 2
Yuna w/ Jarell Perry @ Shank Hall, 8:30 p.m.
Emerging during the great mid-2000s MySpace boom, singer-songwriter Yuna gradually made a name for herself outside of her native Malaysia with her unusual hybrid of indie-pop, folk and R&B. She also has great taste in collaborators: For “Live Your Life,” the lead single from her 2012 self-titled album, she teamed with Pharrell Williams, who crafted a sly, seductively jazzy cocktail lounge track for the singer. She continued to garner comparisons to artists like Norah Jones and Fiest with her latest album, 2013’s Nocturnal.
Wednesday, Feb. 5
Trey Anastasio Band @ The Pabst Theater, 7 p.m.
Aside from the late, great Jerry Garcia, perhaps no guitarist has loomed larger or been more influential in the jam community than Trey Anastasio, whose elaborate, melodically dense playing has inspired a generation of young players. Since reuniting last decade, Phish has remained Anastasio’s primary meal ticket, but his heavy touring schedule with that group hasn’t stopped him from pursuing side gigs and solo projects, as well as shows with his Trey Anastasio Band, which allows him to play more intimate shows than the sprawling amphitheaters Phish usually frequents. The downside? Those shows, including tonight’s at the Pabst Theater, tend to sell out quick.
The Expendables w/ Stick Figure and Seedless @ The Rave, 7 p.m.
In the pantheon of “most descriptive Twitter bios,” The Expendables’ ranks particularly high: “Reggae had sex with metal, punk got in the mix, and ska videotaped it all. Then out pooped The Expendables.” That tells you pretty much everything you need to know about this Santa Cruz band’s sound—the kind of post-Sublime reggae-punk fusion that continues to thrive in Southern California—as well as their fratty, party-boy sense of humor. They’re sort of like a Jimmy Buffet for the fart jokes and Jackass set, specializing in raunchy songs about smoking weed and getting off.