This Week in Milwaukee: Feb 20-26
Carrie Rodriguez w/ Luke Jacobs @ Shank Hall, 8 p.m.
Though she’s a southern belle at heart, Carrie Rodriguez brings a sprightly spunk to the recording studio for her newest album Give Me All You Got, which was inspired by her move back to Austin after a decade in New York. Marrying Americana roots with folk and blues, Rodriguez imparts her sultry yet intense voice upon upbeat tracks such as “Brooklyn” while bringing a Southern whine to country tunes like “I Cry For Love.” Rodriguez’s aggressive violin work has always been one of her signatures, and here her fiddle is in particularly fine form.
Styx @ Potawatomi Bingo Casino, 8 p.m.
Chicago prog-rockers Styx weren’t always known by the same name as the mythical river that separates Earth from the Underworld. Twin brothers Chuck and John Panozzo and neighbor Dennis DeYoung originally formed The Tradewinds in 1961. It wasn’t until 1972, when the band signed a contract with Wooden Nickel Records, that they renamed themselves Styx. According to DeYoung, it was the only name none of them hated. The Panozzos and DeYoung are long gone from the band, but after years of breaking up and regrouping the current quintet still carries on the Styx sound, which developed during a period when concept albums and art-rock aspirations characterized the music scene. Styx does three nights at the Potawatomi Bingo Casino, through Feb. 22.
Alejandro Escovedo and Peter Buck @ Turner Hall Ballroom, 7 p.m.
During his 30 years with R.E.M., lead guitarist Peter Buck was the member of the band most likely to be working on a project outside of R.E.M. When he wasn’t cutting records with side projects like The Minus 5, Tuatara, The Baseball Project and The Venus 3, he was playing sessions with acts like Billy Bragg, The Replacements and Robyn Hitchcock, or producing albums by kindred artists like The Feelies. R.E.M.’s breakup in 2011 gave him more time to commit to those odds and ends gigs, and he’s been typically busy, continuing to work with friends and record low-key solo albums. In 2012 he released a self-titled one, and without much press or advance notice he released another this winter, this one with a much cooler title: I Am Back to Blow Your Mind Once Again. Buck will share this show with veteran roots-rocker Alejandro Escovedo.
Friday, Feb. 21
Milwaukee Admirals w/ Cheap Trick @ BMO Harris Bradley Center, 7 p.m.
While the Milwaukee Bucks are spending the weekend with Coolio, the Milwaukee Admirals are sticking with the classics, inviting power-pop legends Cheap Trick to play a free post-game concert following this game against the Abbotsford Heat. Though their late-career sales haven’t matched those of some of the other goliaths of their era, Cheap Trick have stood the test of time better than most bands spawned by the ’70s hard-rock movement. Hits kept them popular through the ’80s; Steve Albini, Nirvana and Weezer kept them relevant well into the ’90s; and “Guitar Hero” and the dozens of pop-punk covers of “Surrender” have continued to introduce the band to young listeners today.
Pontiak w/ Absolutely @ Riverwest Public House, 9 p.m.
The three brothers that make up Virginia’s heavy psych rock trio Pontiak have recorded at a mighty clip, releasing about an album a year since their 2005 debut White Buffalo, but they’ve never made one as accessible as their latest for Thrill Jockey Records, Innocence. The album sands away some of the more experimental edges of past releases, leaving behind nothing but hard, blown-out riffs that nod to early Black Sabbath and, on the chugging two-minute title track, Iggy Pop’s catchiest output with the Stooges.
52nd Annual O’Reilly Auto Parts World of Wheels @ Wisconsin State Fair Park
Remember the simpler times when car shows used to draw crowds by featuring one sad, lone Batmobile? Well those days are over. This year the annual O’Reilly Auto Parts World of Wheels show will feature not one, not two, but three Batmobiles, illustrating how the iconic superhero vehicle has changed with the times. Hundreds of custom cars, hot rods, motorcycles, trucks and racecars will also be on display as part of the event, which will feature appearances from Danielle Colby Cushman, WWE wrestler Shawn Michaels and Shane Harper from Disney’s “Good Luck Charlie.” (Through Sunday, Feb. 23.)
Saturday, Feb. 22
Food & Froth @ Milwaukee Public Museum, 7 p.m.
Just because the Milwaukee Public Museum is an educational institution doesn’t mean it can’t throw a good party. For its annual Food & Froth benefit, now in its 16th year, the museum opens its doors to breweries from all over the state (and some from well beyond it) and local restaurants. This year’s sampling event will feature more than 200 beers and tastings from more than a dozen restaurants as well as a whole lot of live music from bands including Brewhaus Polka Kings, Sterling & Brass, 18 Strings, Mount Zion Soundsystem and Upside Groove Coalition.
Milwaukee Bucks Y2K Night w/ Coolio @ BMO Harris Bradley Center, 7:30 p.m.
It hasn’t been a great decade for Coolio. After scoring big hits in the ’90s with “Fantastic Voyage” and “Gangsta’s Paradise,” the rapper fell into obscurity, resurfacing primarily at Insane Clown Posse concerts (he has a misspelled “Jugalo” tattoo) and occasionally on reality television—including “Wife Swap,” which he filmed shortly before his girlfriend left him, and “TMZ,” where he’s sometimes mocked for his news-making personal missteps. For this appearance, Coolio will give a halftime show during the Milwaukee Bucks’ game against the Pacers as part of the team’s Y2K promotion. We’re guessing that performing for a few minutes for the worst team in the NBA won’t do much to help him reclaim his former glory.
Tuesday, Feb. 25
WWE Smackdown @ BMO Harris Bradley Center, 7 p.m.
Professional wrestling isn’t quite the same phenomenon it was during its turn-of-the-century “Attitude Era,” when it reached ratings heights with louder, more violent adult content, but WWE continues to reliably draw new young fans. Credit Linda McMahon’s failed 2010 and 2012 senatorial campaigns, perhaps, for the organization softening its product, but professional wrestling is now almost as family friendly as it was during its 1980s heights. This bill, WWE’s first Milwaukee event of 2014, will feature many of its current stars, including Triple H, Dolph Ziggler, The Wyatt Family (Bray Wyatt, Luke Harper and Erick Rowan) and The Sheild (Dean Ambrose, Seth Rollins and Roman Reigns). The marquee match pits Daniel Bryan, Sheamus and Big Show against Bray Wyatt, Kane and Alberto Del Rio.
Wednesday, Feb. 26
The Taj Mahal Trio @ Potawatomi Bingo Casino, 8 p.m.
Taj Mahal’s uniquely elaborate guitar work made him a fast hero in blues circles in the 1960s, but his biggest contribution to the genre was his open-mindedness. By the 1970s he had begun incorporating all manners of world music into his songs, from reggae to West Indian and Caribbean grooves, challenging the conventions of a genre that hasn’t always invited outside influences. Mahal still tours regularly these days, but he doesn’t record as much as he used to. His last album was 2008’s Maestro, which featured guest spots from Ziggy Marley, Ben Haper, Jack Johnson and Los Lobos.