Dec. 25 - Dec. 31
This Week in Milwaukee
This Week in Milwaukee Friday, Dec. 26
Oh My God w/ Guido's Racecar @ The Cactus Club, 10 p.m.
Chicago organist Iguana (we're guessing that's not his birth name) did time with blues royalty like Buddy Guy, Otis Rush, Van Morrison and Junior Wells, but those experiences probably did little to prepare him for his time in the grimy altrock band Oh My God, an ensemble more indebted to Frank Zappa's damaged art-rock and the Foo Fighters' elephantine alternative rock (though unlike the Foo Fighters, they have no ambitions of carrying the weight of the world). A nasty van crash sidelined the band, but one physical-therapy-filled year later, the group is again playing regional shows with their usual fervor. Local openers Guido's Racecar sound like Lou Reed jamming with The Breeders, a combination so striking it's surprising that more bands haven't attempted it.
Immortal @ Stonefly Brewery, 10 p.m.
As one of the DJs on Jammin' 98.3's "Basement Crew," the station's only rap program, Antonio Criss is deeply familiar with what makes a rap song stick, and he brings that knowledge to his own music career. Performing under the moniker Immortal, he filled his debut album, Shook Up the World, which he releases tonight, with smooth hooks and Southern-rap flourishes, musing on life in Milwaukee and his upward aspirations with Jay-Z's poise, T.I.'s swagger and, on his first single, "Real Woman," T-Pain's Vocoder.
Saturday, Dec. 27
The White Tie Affair @ The Rave, 7 p.m. To hear The White Tie Affair spin it, this young Illinois band has revolutionized rock music by pairing it with dance beats-never mind that on any given night there are dozens of indistinguishable electro-rock bands with the same M.O. opening for mid-level emo bands all over the country.
Though they're not the first band to disco-up (or Panic at the Disco-up) the old Duran Duran playbook, The White Tie Affair wins points for earnestness. Without falling back on the simpleton riffs that mar too much majorlabel emo, the band sings timeworn puns like "I'm so tired of being so sick and tired" as if they not only find real truth in them, but genuinely believe they're the first to come up with them. Saturday, Dec. 27
Second Annual Milwaukee Air Guitar Showdown @ Stonefly Brewery, 10 p.m.
As goofy as it sounds, with the popularity of the U.S. Air Guitar Championships, competitions like the Milwaukee Air Guitar Showdown, now in its second year, are popping up all over the country. It's easy enough to understand the appeal: They let contestants feel like a rock star without actually having to master that pesky "rock" part (or having to deal with the carpal-tunnel hazards of "Guitar Hero" and its offshoots). Plus, they're kind of funny to watch. At this point, it's only a matter of time until some ESPN channel begins broadcasting these things. Monday, Dec. 29
Rusted Root w/ Backyard Tire Fire @ The Rave, 8 p.m.
Along with bands like the Spin Doctors and Blues Traveler, Rusted Root was part of a crop of positive, feel-good jam bands to cross over to mainstream radio in the '90s, when the current jam scene was just beginning to emerge. Although Rusted Root ultimately didn't inspire the same levels of devotion as bands like Phish, The String Cheese Incident and moe., nostalgia for their one big hit, "Send Me On My Way," should keep them touring comfortably into middle age. Openers Backyard Tire Fire, of Illinois, sang "I want to be Tom Petty, I want to be a star" as the opening salvo to their 2007 record, Vagabonds and Hooligans, but judging from their agreeable, modest rock 'n' roll, they'd settle for just being a well-liked bar band. With a persistent, rootsy twang, the band evokes shades of The Replacements, The Violent Femmes and early Wilco. Wednesday, Dec. 31
Dead Man's Carnival w/ The Candliers @ Stonefly Brewery, 10 p.m.
The Candliers are as fitting a band to spend New Year's Eve with as any. Candied with trumpet, banjo and Wurlitzer, the group's starry-eyed love letters to the people, places and sounds of America's past couldn't squeeze in any more pomp if the band replaced all their instruments with pots, pans and noisemakers. The Riverwest seven-piece performs tonight with Dead Man's Carnival, a subversive circus troupe whose past performances have included stripteases, vaudevillian song and dance, unfortunate clowns, fire-eating and something called the Ramp of Death, which probably won't be possible to recreate indoors because of basic fire codes. The Madtown Hellcats and Sanjula Vamana round out the bill.