September 17 - September 23
This Week in Milwaukee
Thursday, Sept. 17
The Fray @ The Tarble Athletic Center, Kenosha, 8 p.m.
Don’t call The Fray a Christian band: They’re just a band that happens to mostly write songs about God, Jesus and faith. One of the most prominent of the growing breed of Christian/Not Christian acts, this Denver piano-rock act has found greater success in the mainstream than they ever could have in the Christian Contemporary Music niche with their driving, soundtrack-ready ballads, most notably their inspirational “How to Save a Life,” a song that climbed the charts after a massive tie-in campaign with the TV drama “Grey’s Anatomy.” This February The Fray returned with a self-titled second album, where the band showed some newfound ferocity on their hit single “You Found Me,” a song singer Isaac Slade has described as a conversation with God about why bad things happen to good people.
Carbon Leaf w/ Stephen Kellogg and The Sixers @ Shank Hall, 8 p.m.
the squiggly line between sensitive indie-rock and eclectic jam, the
Virginia-based quintet Carbon Leaf covers plenty of territory on its
latest album, Nothing Rhymes with Woman. While only a handful of tracks
(“Indecision,” “Miss Hollywood”) approach the immediate appeal of songs
on the group’s 2004 breakthrough, Indian Summer, Carbon Leaf still
provides memorable moments with the bluesy swagger of “Another Man’s
Woman,” the Skynyrd-style guitars in “Meltdown” and multi-part
harmonies on “Seed.” Inoffensive and safe, the music of Carbon Leaf
flutters by smoothly and easily, suggesting a more nuanced Dave
Friday, Sept. 18
Sugarland w/ Billy Currington and Matt Nathanson @ Bradley Center, 7:30 p.m.
With their sharp songwriting and agreeable, rock ’n’ roll edge, Sugarland emerged mid-century as contemporary country music’s commercial and critical darlings, their appeal reaching beyond the usual country faithful. Sugarland’s 2008 album, Love on the Inside, was recorded with minimal overdubs—a rarity in the overproduced world of modern country—but this year’s Live on the Inside wasn’t nearly so anti-establishment. It was released exclusively through—you guessed it—Wal-Mart.
Reunion Concert for Beccee w/ Eric Benet @ The Pabst Theater, 7:30 p.m.
In the late ’80s, Gerard was one of Milwaukee’s most popular R&B ensembles, but these days it’s mostly remembered as the launching pad for breakout star Eric Benet. Tonight that band reunites, Benet included, but the occasion is a sad one. Benet’s former band mate Beccee Smith has been diagnosed with stage-three lung cancer, despite being a nonsmoker. Benet and Smith have a long history: The two dated for years, and their relationship inspired much of Benet’s first solo albums. Many other former members of Gerard will be on hand for tonight’s reunion, including Amy Schultz (of Framing Amy) and producer Kevin Sucher.
Davila 666 @ Club Garibaldi, 8 p.m.
that bad behavior transcends cultural barriers, Puerto Rican
garage-rockers Davila 666 have been tirelessly compared to a
Latin-American Black Lips for their raucous, sweaty live shows, though
the music itself isn’t nearly as subversive as that Atlantan reference
point suggests. If anything, Davila 666 are fairly faithful disciples
of Iggy Pop, MC5 and The Ramones, playing howled, hand-clappy rock ’n’
roll and bubblegum punk with good cheer and Spanish lyrics. They share
tonight’s bill with The Flips, The Yolks and The Get Drunk DJs.
Night of the Living Dead 3-D @ Discovery World, 6 p.m.
Revolutionary not only for its excessive gore and gritty realism, but also its casting of an African-American man as its hero, 1968’s Night of the Living Dead was the first great zombie film, establishing the conventions of nearly every zombie movie that followed. Its reputation persists in spite of a copyright loophole that turned George Romero’s film over to public domain, where it spawned a slew of hit-or-miss remakes and spinoffs. It’s unclear which version of Night of the Living Dead Discovery World will screen for free tonight at dusk, then. It could be the 2006 3-D remake, or the recent 3-D conversion of the 1968 original. Either way, intestines abound.
Saturday, Sept. 19
Decibully w/ Early Day Miners and Conrad Plymouth @ Mad Planet, 9 p.m.
Since the beginning of the decade, the Indiana ensemble Early Day Miners (pictured) has been playing to a small but devoted following, all the while skirting the usual indie-rock pigeonholing. Their music is too fast to be slowcore, but not dynamic enough to be post-rock; too warped to be Americana, but not freaky enough to be freak-folk. The group’s upcoming album, The Treatment, is its most immediate and rocking yet, though that’s all relative. For tonight’s show, Early Day Miners are paired with a fitting Milwaukee co-headliner, Decibully, as well as local songwriter Conrad Plymouth.
Sunday, Sept. 20
Alice in Chains @ The Rave, 8 p.m.
Though some fans found it inherently off-putting that metal-leaning grunge rockers Alice in Chains carried on after the 2002 death of Layne Staley, replacing him with sound-alike William DuVall, most don’t seem to mind. The reunited Alice in Chains has been a reliable touring draw, and this year the group debuted a pair of new singles that have performed remarkably well on rock radio: “Check My Brain” and “A Looking in View.” That exposure bodes well for the upcoming album Black Gives Way to Blue, their first in 14 years.
Denison Witmer w/ Brooke Waggoner and Mark Waldoch @ The Cactus Club, 9 p.m.
Though he’s not the only indie-folk singer with an affinity for cutesy, crocheted images and lullaby-esque tunes, more so than his peers Philadelphia’s Denison Witmer (pictured) begs for a Freudian analysis. What is it that so draws adult songwriters to childlike aesthetics? The songs on Witmer’s latest album in particular, Carry the Weight, so closely replicate the patterns of nursery rhymes that it’s easy to imagine them being recorded between naps and milk breaks, as the singer clings to a security blanket and dreams of being back in the womb.
Monday, Sept. 21
For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide When the Rainbow Is Enuf @ UWM Union Wisconsin Room, 7 p.m.
Penned by black feminist playwright Ntozake Shange in the mid-’70s, a time when the theater didn’t offer many strong roles for black women, For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide When the Rainbow Is Enuf touched on enough heavy social issues like abortion and rape to fuel an entire season of a Norman Lear sitcom, attracting widespread buzz, acclaim and a Tony Award nomination. For three nights, through Wednesday, Sept. 23, local director Andre Lee Ellis brings his production of Shange’s monologue-laden play to the UW-Milwaukee Union’s Wisconsin Room, with a cast of some of the city’s strongest women actors.
Tuesday, Sept. 22
Ida Maria, Ladyhawke and Semi Precious Weapons @ Turner Hall Ballroom, 8 p.m.
Though he’s better known for outing unwitting celebrities and doodling semen over paparazzi photos of reality TV stars, celebrity blogger Perez Hilton is also an avid music fan. After success playing impresario at Austin’s South by Southwest festival, Hilton tries his hand at the tour circuit with his inaugural Perez Hilton Presents tour. Tonight’s stop features blog favorite Ida Maria, a Norwegian rocker with an oversized, bronze voice; Ladyhawke, the nom de plume of Pip Brown, a songstress with an ear for Urban Outfitters-friendly electro-pop; and Semi Precious Weapons, a Brooklyn rock ’n’ roll band. Hilton himself will be making appearances at select tour dates, but is staying mum on which ones.
Richard Lloyd and the Sufi-Monkeys w/ Testa Rosa @ Shank Hall, 8 p.m.
Television’s 1977 debut Marquee Moon alone assures that Richard Lloyd will be included on lists of the greatest guitar players of all time for generations to come. After Television’s 1978 breakup, Lloyd carried on as a sometimes solo artist and top-shelf session player, putting his breathless guitar work to great use in particular on Matthew Sweet’s ’90s records. This September Lloyd released his latest solo oddity: The Jamie Neverts Story, a Jimi Hendrix covers album. Lloyd brushed shoulders with Hendrix through a mutual friend, Velvert Turner, Hendrix’s closest protege.
Lucinda Williams @ The Pabst Theater, 7:30 p.m.
Over the quarter-century-plus since her breakthrough album, 1980’s Happy Woman Blues, Lucinda Williams has built one of the strongest discographies in the modern country/folk canon. As her voice shows signs of wear and tear, taking on a roughness usually reserved for her male counterparts, Williams’ work has become rawer and more in line with contemporary roots-rock. Her 2007 disc, West, was a meditation on a tumultuous relationship, filled with tension and violence, but her 2008 follow-up Little Honey is a lighter celebration of rock ’n’ roll, featuring carefree collaborations with Elvis Costello, Matthew Sweet and Susanna Hoffs.