This Week in Milwaukee: Feb. 27-Mar. 6
Friday, Feb. 28
Gerald Walker w/ Wave Chapelle, Klassik, Pizzle and Yo-Dot @ Riverwest Public House, 9 p.m.
Itâ€™s not quite Game of Thrones, but thereâ€™s a power vacuum in Milwaukeeâ€™s rap scene right now. The scene has been running without a clear, leading star for years now, and thereâ€™s a veritable army of artists competing in hopes of claiming that throne. Several of Milwaukeeâ€™s most promising prospects will be on display at this bill at the Riverwest Public House. Gerald Walker specializes in cerebral, Drake-esque half-sung hip-hop, and has earned quite a bit of national blog buzz for his many mixtapes. Pizzle, for his part, tackles modern, radio-friendly rap with unusual hunger, while Yo-Dot channels the cutthroat feel of hard, â€™90s New York rap, and Klassik brings an element of jazz composition to his soulful, electronic beats.
Miranda Levyâ€™s Return To The Runway @ Intercontinental Hotel, 6 p.m.
Since competing on Bravoâ€™s â€śProject Runway,â€ť designer Miranda Levy has become the de facto ambassador of Milwaukeeâ€™s fashion scene. For this runway show, sheâ€™ll display some of her latest designs, joined by fellow â€śProject Runwayâ€ť designers Christopher Straub, Peach Carr, Kahindo Mateene and Angela Bacskocky. Other featured designers include Gretchen Bartz (GCB Design), Linda Breshears Marcus, Amanda Martinez, Tama Roberts and Sara Terrell (Run Away by Sara Terrell).
Badfinger @ Turner Hall Ballroom, 7 p.m.
To casual followers, Badfinger are best remembered for their ties to The Beatles. The group was singed to Apple Records at the same time as the Fab Four, and Paul McCartney wrote their hit â€śCome and Get Itâ€ť for them. But living in the shadow of The Beatles took a toll on the group, which weathered financial and legal hardships throughout the â€™70s before enduring two tragic blows: the suicides of members Pete Ham and Tom Evans. Since the early â€™80s, the lone surviving member of the groupâ€™s classic lineup, guitarist Joey Molland, has continued touring with different versions of Badfinger (usually billed as Badfinger featuring Joey Molland), but recently the group has enjoyed renewed interest following the series finale of â€śBreaking Bad,â€ť which closed with the bandâ€™s 1971 hit â€śBaby Blue.â€ť
Saturday, March 1
Blessed Feathers w/ The Fatty Acids and Ryan Holman @ The Pabst Theater, 7 p.m.
Few bands from the recent boom of NPR and Paste-friendly folk have been as consistently captivating as the West Bend, Wis., duo Blessed Feathers, whose pretty songs have captured the allure of places weâ€™ve never been, the dread of winter and the queasy comfort of young love. The duoâ€™s songwriting arrived fully formed right out the gate, but theyâ€™ve continued to refine their sound on their recent output, pruning away some of the unnecessary indie-pop accompaniments that similar folk projects are often too quick to fall back on. Their latest album, last yearâ€™s Order of the Arrow, then, is their most crisp, direct record so farâ€”their best yet. For this lower-level show at the Pabst Theater, theyâ€™re joined by eccentric indie-rockers The Fatty Acids and comedian Ryan Holman.
We Were Promised Jetpacks w/ Honeyblood @ Shank Hall, 8 p.m.
Scottish indie-rockers We Were Promised Jetpacks share more than a little bit of the same DNA as their FatCat labelmates Frightened Rabbit and The Twilight Sad, two fellow U.K. bands that share a penchant for post-punk-inspired brooding, but even more so than those groups, they arenâ€™t afraid to go loud. Building on the churning songs of their 2009 debut These Four Walls, their 2011 follow-up In The Pit Of The Stomach trafficked in grand, cascading sounds, often capturing the fire of early U2.
Sunday, March 2
Cloud Cult @ Turner Hall Ballroom, 7 p.m.
Minneapolisâ€™ Cloud Cult shares Eelsâ€™ love of quirky, electronic beats and cinematic soundscapes as well as Beckâ€™s knack for dynamic, flashy live shows. Much of the groupâ€™s early music was inspired by the 2002 death of frontman Craig Minowaâ€™s young sonâ€”somber subject matter that only furthers the Eels comparisonsâ€”but the bandâ€™s visually loaded concerts feel more like colorful birthday parties than funerals. The groupâ€™s 2010 album Light Chasers, found Minowa in unusually high spirits, reveling in the recent birth of his son, and 2013â€™s Love was a similarly upbeat album, flushed with bright electronics and Arcade Fire-esque grandeur. For this show, the band will do two sets: one electric and one acoustic.
Tuesday, March 4
Radio Milwaukee Mardi Gras Party w/ Herman Astro and Extra Crispy Brass Band @ Turner Hall Ballroom, 6:30 p.m.
Milwaukee doesnâ€™t have a particularly rich Mardi Gras tradition, but for the last several years the city has come out for at least one reoccurring Fat Tuesday celebration: Radio Milwaukee's annual Mardi Gras party at Turner Hall Ballroom with Maxieâ€™s Southern Comfort, which provides a generous spread of soul food. This yearâ€™s lineup features two brassy party bands: the Milwaukee soul-rock band Herman Astro, who will be cutting a new album this spring, and the cityâ€™s Extra Crispy Brass Band. For their part, Maxieâ€™s promises to provide dinner and â€śMilwaukee's largest King Cake.â€ť Since there arenâ€™t all that many places to get King Cake in Milwaukee, they probably wonâ€™t have much competition, but weâ€™re assuming the cake will be pretty damn big anyway.
Wednesday, March 5
Milwaukeeâ€™s SXSW Sendoff @ Turner Hall Ballroom, 6:30 p.m.
Every year, bands from all over the world flock to Austinâ€™s South By Southwest music festival in hopes of getting signed or discovered (or, depending on their outlook, maybe just having a good time and throwing back some barbeque). This year Milwaukee caught the SXSW bug big time. Twenty-five acts will be making the trip down to play a stage sponsored by MilwaukeeHome, but before they do some of them will play this sendoff show at Turner Hall Ballroom, a fundraiser for the stage. The lineup includes Hugh Robert Masterson of Hugh Bob and the Hustle, Klassik, Boy Blue, Jayk, Ray Nitti and Webster X. Le Freak will do a DJ set, while Video Villains will provide visual accompaniments.
Foghat and Blue Ă–yster Cult @ Potawatomi Bingo Casino, 8 p.m.
Blue Ă–yster Cult date back to the late â€™60s, minus the Summer of Loveâ€”call it instead the Season of Heavy Metal. While Blue Oyster Cult found new audiences in the â€™70s with their monster hit â€ś(Donâ€™t Fear) the Reaper,â€ť along with â€śGodzillaâ€ť and â€śBurninâ€™ for You,â€ť the boomers among us remember the â€śrealâ€ť guitar distortions of â€ś7 Screaming Diz-Busters,â€ť â€śHot Rails to Hellâ€ť and â€śCities on Flame with Rock and Roll.â€ť For the hardcore Cult members, Eric Bloom (lead vocals, rhythm guitar and keyboards) and Buck Dharma (lead guitar and vocals) still remain after all these years, performing with some relative youth in the form of Rudy Sarzo on bass (a veteran of the Ozzy/Dio/Whitesnake circuit) along with Jules Radino (drums) and Richie Castellano (keyboards and guitar). That lineup will share this bill with boogie-rock veterans Foghat.