Dec. 18 - Dec. 24
This Week in Milwaukee
Thursday, Dec. 18
Hardcore Comedy Show @ Cactus Club, 10 p.m.
One of the loudest rallying cries from Milwaukee’s scattered comedy scene, The Hardcore Comedy Show pairs five burgeoning female comedians—grrrl comedians?—in one of the city’s least likely comedy venues: the Cactus Club, whose grimy, smoky backroom has long been the territory of punk-rock concerts, but rarely stand-up performances. The women are unapologetically crass, prone to detailed rants about sex and body image, so expect an angrier, more explicit and much funnier version of “The Vagina Monologues.” As usual, there’s no cover, though there’s a $3 suggested donation.
Friday, Dec. 19
Pigs on Ice w/ Possible Fathers and Bird Sounds @ The Vault, 7 p.m.
Though they’re clearly influenced by the Jesus Lizard and other seminal acts from Touch and Go’s back catalog, Milwaukee’s Pigs on Ice play their tightly wound punk and post-punk with a theatrical flamboyance that most of their nofrills muses eschewed. Using low-key, loosely themed costumes, the band aims to create a visual complement to their edgy rock ’n’ roll. This attention to detail and the subsequent word-of-mouth has helped them rise to the top of Milwaukee’s crowded basement scene.
Reilly @ Paddy’s Pub, 9 p.m.
Milwaukee Irish rockers Reilly understandably thrive around St. Patrick’s Day, a brief period where they cram in as many gigs as they can, but this month the group is making a push to dominate another lucrative holiday season: Christmas. Tonight they’re releasing their new album, Kick Ass Celtic Christmas, a collection of drunken riffs on traditional Christmas themes. “Christmas in Killarney” plays like an X-mas carol as done by The Pogues, while “Dear Santa (I Can Explain)” details a destructive rampage down Candy Cane Lane. The band follows up tonight’s CD release show with a Dec. 31 performance at Waukesha’s House of Guinness.
Rockapella @ Cedarburg Performing Arts Center, 8 p.m.
Though the vocal group has explored other topics on their infrequent studio albums, Rockapella’s biggest claims to fame remain Carmen Sandiego, Folgers Coffee and, increasingly, Christmas. The latter is the focus of tonight’s holiday show and two of the band’s most recent records, 2000’s Christmas and 2002’s Comfort & Joy. Those discs found Rockapella rearranging standards like “Winter Wonderland,” “White Christmas” and “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” in their trademark doo-wop style, complete with proto-beatbox percussion and ample silly voices.
Saturday, Dec. 20
Eat the Mystery w/ Slim Reaper and His Dim Peepers @ The Uptowner, 10 p.m.
One of the most flamboyant of all the recent Milwaukee bands warped by too many Tom Waits records, Eat the Mystery has a soft spot for warbled vocals, carnival accordions and bawdy lyrics, but with their cabaret-styled approach to performing, the troupe never rides one idea long enough for it to become grating. With a rotating cast of singers, male and female, they run through peppy drinking ballads, throaty dirges and sultry torch songs with equal aplomb. The group, whose bloated lineup now finds room for a pit band and innumerable guest performers, celebrates its third year together tonight.
Eat the Mystery
DJ Deadbeat w/ House of M, Malicious and KingHellBastard @ Stonefly Brewery, 10 p.m.
Milwaukee’s radio shuffle continued this fall as DJ Madhatter, who along with Kid Cut Up had co-hosted WMSE’s Tuesday night hip-hop show “Mad Kids,” left that program for a morning drive-time slot on Radio Milwaukee 88.9. In a move that’s proved a smart one, Madhatter was replaced by DJ Deadbeat—though the name of the show mercifully stayed the same, since “Dead Kids” wouldn’t quite have as inviting a ring to it. While he doesn’t have the profile of some of his more ubiquitous friends, Deadbeat quietly established himself as a pillar of the city’s rap scene this year, working the deck for the sprawling young supergroup House of M and DJing solo gigs, where he deftly splices Lil Wayne into the few songs Lil Wayne hasn’t already guested. Tonight Deadbeat inaugurates his latest mix CD, The Boombox.
Mike Fredrickson w/ Robbie Fulks and Dave Braun @ Linneman’s, 9:30 p.m.
A longtime fixture of the Milwaukee music scene, roots-rocker Mike Fredrickson clocked time with two cult bands, The Spanic Boys and The Mosleys, before launching a quiet solo career at the beginning of the decade. His talents caught the attention of Chicago alt-country icon Robbie Fulks, who recruited Fredrickson not only for his skills as a bassist, but also as an artist: Fredrickson painted the cover for Fulks’ latest album, Revenge! Tonight Fredrickson celebrates the release of his fifth solo album, Bristlehead, topping a bill that also features collaborators past and present: Fulks and former Mosleys drummer Dave Braun.
Sunday, Dec. 21
Hinder w/ Rev Theory, Trapt @ The Rave, 7 p.m.
Don’t let Hinder’s penchant for boilerplate, hair-metal power ballads fool you into thinking they have a heart. Though they may soundtrack high-school prom slow dances, they’re just as apt to spend the rest of the dance crashing everyone else’s photographs as they drunkenly flash the shocker. With all of Motley Crue’s misogyny but none of the self-aware humor, constipated frontman Austin Winkler sings of cheap booze and mean-spirited sex. That pairing becomes even more unctuous on this Jagermeister-sponsored tour, where Winkler surrounds himself in lingerie-clad babes and grunts into a bra-covered microphone.
Christmas Dreams: Joe Puerta & Maji @ Turner Hall Ballroom, 7 p.m.
After finding fluke success a couple of years ago with “I’m Coming Home for Christmas,” a song that cracked some charts after appearing on an episode of “ER,” Milwaukee prog-rock fixture Joe Puerta saw the demand for a full length. Under the moniker Maji, Puerta and friends recorded Christmas Dreams, a set of mostly original songs, usually crafted in a slick, adult-contemporary pop style far removed from the tumultuous prog epics of Puerta’s best-known band, Ambrosia. A litany of Milwaukee music vets lend support tonight, including Victor DeLorenzo, Paul Cebar, Grace Weber and Robin Pluer.
Monday, Dec. 22
Mannheim Steamroller @ Milwaukee Theatre, 8 p.m.
The Trans-Siberian Orchestra would later update and amp up the same formula with some progged-out electric guitars, but Mannheim Steamroller was the first outfit to make a killing modernizing Christmas classics for New Age listeners. Their synthesized and comically dramatic arrangements of traditionals like “Carol of the Bells” and “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen” have become such seasonal hits that the group has recorded only three non-holiday albums since their 1984 Yule-time breakthrough Mannheim Steamroller Christmas. This year’s Christmasville, for comparison’s sake, is their ninth Christmas-themed record. (Also Tuesday at 4 and 8 p.m.)