Jun. 19 - Jun. 25
This Week in Milwaukee
Thursday, June 19
Twista @ The Rave, 9 p.m.
Last time Twista was slated to play a V100.7-sponsored event, filling in at the last minute for a snowbound Soulja Boy at December’s Holiday Jam, Twista himself was a no-show, and promoters gave no explanation for his absence. Hopefully the jaw-dropping rapper, by many accounts the world’s fastest (although others have challenged his crown), will make good on that missed show tonight at a concert celebrating V100.7 DJ Reggie Brown’s 10th year with the station. If, however, Twista should by some unfortunate reason not be able to make it to Milwaukee this time—either by act of god or sloppy booking—at least openers Young Berg and Hot Stylez and “Flavor of Love” twins Thing 1 and Thing 2 will be on hand to entertain the crowd.
Martin Sexton @ Shank Hall, 8 p.m.
Behind Martin Sexton’s puffy, pale countenance, there’s an incongruously soulful voice, one that evokes Stevie Wonder’s spirited cheer and Marvin Gaye’s passionate conviction. This limitless voice has opened doors for Sexton that similar new-folk singer-songwriters never have access to, so Sexton has been able to broaden his style considerably since his 1990 debut, In The Journey, which he recorded in a friend’s attic. Like so many nostalgic boomers with a newfound recording budget, Sexton has gravitated toward studio-colored, Beatlesque pop on his recent albums, but his genre-hopping performances are more in keeping with the affable, anything-goes hodgepodges popular in the jam scene.
Friday, June 20
Lakefront Festival of the Arts @ Milwaukee Art Museum
With more than 170 artists exhibiting and selling their wares, art is obviously the main draw at the Lakefront Festival of the Arts, but the festival’s entertainment lineup also offers a high-culture respite from the usual cover bands that dominate Milwaukee’s summer outdoor events. Many of the bands occupying the main stage during this three-day event, including the International Quartet, Ziji, the Kal Bergendahl Project and the Scott Napoli Quartet, play jazz music with a cerebral, world-minded spin.
Polish Fest @ Summerfest Grounds
Being the least attended of Milwaukee’s ethnic festivals at the Summerfest grounds may be a dubious honor, but it’s also one of Polish Fest’s selling points. Without battling incessant crowds, patrons can enjoy all of the amenities of other major festivals: food, dancing, live music, fireworks, etc. Of course, Polish-culture-specific activities abound: Scarf down pierogi and dare your friends to eat czarnina (a soup made of duck blood). Examine traditional Polish costumes. Buy boleslawiec and bursztyn—or just learn what boleslawiec and bursztyn are—at the Sukiennice Marketplace.
Saturday, June 21
Local H @ The Summer Soulstice Music Festival, 9 p.m.
Little-changed since the ’90s, Local H’s music still crashes and thrashes in deference to the glory days of grunge-rock, but a steady stream of respectable new material and a road-tested twoman show has prevented the band from becoming a nostalgia act. The group is touring behind this May’s 12 Angry Months, a calendar-themed breakup album that finds frontman Scott Lucas in fine, cynical form, but they’ll almost certainly revisit “Bound for the Floor” for the audiences at Summer Soulstice, the East Side’s free music festival. Other bands on the daylong bill are of the local (but not Local H) variety: Northern Room, The Saltshakers, De La Buena and the reigning kings of Milwaukee-area outdoor music festivals, The Love Monkeys.
Black Angels w/ The Warlocks @ Mad Planet, 9 p.m.
Lest there be any question about The Black Angels’ love for the Velvet Underground, the Austin, Texas, sextet not only named itself after the Velvet’s “Black Angel’s Death Song,” but also styled its logo after an iconic image of the Velvet’s one-time singer Nico. Black Angels are thusly lumped in with other VU revivalists like Brian Jonestown Massacre and Spacemen 3, but their newest album, Directions to See a Ghost, nonetheless stands out for its sheer commitment to traditional psychedelic rock: From the reverbheavy production to the droning organ, everything about the album sounds like it was recorded in a black-lit basement during the Vietnam War. Los Angeles openers The Warlocks mine similar territory, nodding to the Velvet Underground and Jesus & Mary Chain, but once they build up steam, they push their psychedelic freakouts in darker, more extreme directions.
Dax Riggs @ Cactus Club, 9:30 p.m.
Dax Riggs’ previous band, Deadboy & the Elephantmen, might have garnered more attention had it not been recorded during the reign of The White Stripes, a much higher-profile band that played similar, bluesy heavy rock and invited countless imitators that, while disposable, nonetheless stole attention from more worthy bands. Riggs’ style was always less kitschy than The White Stripes’, influenced as much by troubled troubadours like Nick Cave as the Delta greats or Led Zeppelin. Since Riggs began recording under his own name last year, his accounts of his inner demons have grown even more explicit. His solo debut, We Sing of Only Blood Or Love, opens with the poignant, selfexplanatory “Demon Tied to a Chair in My Brain.” Opening: Atlatl and Danny Price and the Loose Change.
Sunday, June 22
Israel Vibration @ Turner Hall Ballroom, 8 p.m.
Flanked by some of the genre’s finest session players of the time, including Augustus Pablo and Sly & Robbie, in the late ’70s the reggae vocal trio Israel Vibration recorded a handful of charming roots albums dedicated mostly to their Rastafarian faith. The group toyed with dub, but remained traditionalists, avoiding the dancehall that dominated Jamaica in the late ’80s. A shake-up in 1997 cut Israel Vibration down to a duo, as founding member Albert Craig left for a modest solo career, but the band has adapted well to the change, relying on backing vocalists where the three lead vocalists used to harmonize.
Ryan Cabrera @ The Rave, 8 p.m.
It’s difficult to muster too much pity for someone so undeservingly privileged, but Ryan Cabrera is becoming one of pop music’s most pathetic figures. Mentored by manager Joe Simpson, who signed the pretty-boy singer because of his highly publicized (and, thanks to MTV, televised) relationship with daughter Ashlee Simpson, Cabrera never became a bona fide star despite the considerable financial backing. Pouring further salt in his wounded pride, Ashlee Simpson went on to marry a far more successful dude—Fall Out Boy’s Pete Wentz—leaving Cabrera something of a third-rate K-Fed. Cabrera recently shed his once-trademark bleachblond, Abercrombie & Fitch hair spikes in favor of a shaggy-haired, homeless-rocker-confident-in-his-sexuality look, but the reinvention did nothing to revive his career. His most recent album of new wave-inspired commercial pop, The Moon Under Water, debuted pathetically at the tail end of the Billboard 200 (No. 177) before falling off the charts completely just one week later.
Wednesday, June 25
Willie Nelson @ Potawatomi Bingo Casino, 8 p.m.
At 75, Willie Nelson’s legacy is well cemented, but Nelson keeps recording like he still owes the IRS back taxes. In the last three years alone, he’s released a high-profile country-reggae album; a tribute album to legendary songwriter Cindy Walker; a collaborative album with Ryan Adams; an album with old-time legends Ray Price and Merle Haggard; the gay-cowboy novelty single “Cowboys are Frequently, Secretly Fond of Each Other” (which became his highest-charting single in more than two decades); and, this January, a crossover country album with Kenny Chesney. Nelson’s albums are notoriously hit-or-miss these days, but on the road he’s still in top form, and he clearly enjoys revisiting favorites from his expansive career.