This Week in Milwaukee
CoCoBees, Ex Fabula, Widespread Panic, Peaches and The Jesus Lizard
Thursday, Nov. 19
Rob Zombie @ The Rave, 8 p.m.
Although his focus of late has been directing horror movies (including recent stabs at John Carpenter’s Halloween franchise), Rob Zombie still finds time to pursue the music career that initially brought him to fame, most recently recording a sequel (due out sometime next year) to his 1998 solo debut Hellbilly Deluxe. The former White Zombie frontman is hitting the road to hype the album, promoting the Hellbilly Deluxe 2 world tour with proclamations of “THE EVIL RETURNS!!” Truth be told, there isn’t all that much “evil” about Zombie—with his love of monster movies, loud heavy metal and silly makeup, he’s more of an overgrown teenager than anything else—but it’s a safe bet that his show will at least be pretty rocking.
Collections of Colonies of Bees | Photo by Kathrine Berger
Collections of Colonies of Bees w/ Canyons of Static and This is Versailles @ The Cactus Club, 9:30 p.m.
Milwaukee’s post-rock septet Collections of Colonies of Bees was well on its way toward building a national following after last year’s majestic full-length, Birds, but a collaboration this year with Bon Iver blog-magnet Justin Vernon (an album as Volcano Choir, Unmap) expedited the process, cementing the group’s reputation as one of the country’s most innovative post-rock ensembles. Bees’ peers Canyons of Static craft similarly gorgeous post-rock suites with a grander, skyscraping scope and shoegazey sheen. The two acts share a bill tonight at the Cactus Club, but those under 21 shouldn’t feel too left out: The bands will also anchor a Saturday night all-ages show at the Borg Ward Collective.
John Fogerty @ The Riverside Theater, 8 p.m.
As the lead singer and primary songwriter for Southern-rock pioneers Creedence Clearwater Revival, John Fogerty had already created a rich musical legacy when he struck out on his own in 1973.
Though his efforts since then, including the 1985 commercial smash Centerfield, have not done much to expand on that legacy, they haven’t done much to tarnish it either. Fogerty’s blend of early rock, country twang and pop hooks is still as welcome as ever on this year’s The Blue Ridge Rangers Rides Again, the follow-up to his 2007 comeback album Revival, even though it’s doubtful that those discs will age as well as CCR’s late ’60s, early ’70s output. Fogerty himself seems to know where his bread is buttered, though, so expect to hear plenty of classic Creedence tunes alongside cuts from his recent releases tonight.
Ex Fabula @ Art Bar, 8 p.m.
If storytelling is a lost art, the gang behind Ex Fabula didn’t get the memo. Their new series invites 10 storytellers—some chosen in advance, others at random—to share unscripted, five-minute autobiographical vignettes relating to a set theme. The theme for this inaugural event, fittingly, is “beginnings.” Interested storytellers should arrive at 7:30 p.m. to sign up. At the end of the night, the audience will vote for their favorite storyteller.
Friday, Nov. 20
Widespread Panic @ The Riverside Theater, 8 p.m.
Widespread Panic has been playing its swampy jam-rock since the mid-’80s, when there was no organized jam scene for them to lean on. The emergence of jam in the ’90s as its own genre—with its own business model— turned the once-obscure band into a lucrative touring machine, and in recent years Widespread Panic has altered its touring schedule to account for its many sold-out shows. The group used to do two-night stands at the Riverside Theater, but in recent years they’ve upped it to three nights, so they’ll be at the Riverside through Sunday.
Medeski Martin and Wood @ The Rave, 9 p.m.
Having tired of the process of writing and recording an album, then touring behind it to exhaustion, the jazz-fusion trio Medeski Martin and Wood reversed the process for their recent trilogy of albums, collectively called The Radiolarian Series. Instead, they composed and honed their songs on the road before hitting the studio to record each album. It’s the type of trick that will further endear the organ-drum-bass trio to their considerable jam following, but the resulting albums should thrill traditional jazz fans, too. The Radiolarian Series hosts some of the most purely enjoyable, rhythmically innovative soul-jazz Medeski Martin and Wood have recorded this decade.
Medeski Martin and Wood
Cross Canadian Ragweed w/ Seth James @ Shank Hall, 8 p.m.
The Oklahoma quartet Cross Canadian Ragweed cut their teeth on the road, touring relentlessly across the country and establishing a reputation as a fine act to drink to in the ’90s, when their reverence for artists like Gram Parsons earned them a following in alt-country circles. This decade, though, the group has been interested in exploring more traditional Southern rock than alt-country is usually associated with, and their recent albums, like this year’s Happiness and All the Other Things, are filled with nods to The Eagles and Lynyrd Skynyrd.
Beetlejuice @ The Times Cinema, 11:50 p.m.
Thinking beyond the usual Rocky Horror Picture Show midnight routine, Milwaukee’s Warped Cast gives the same loving, live treatment to other cult films, like Little Shop of Horrors and Clue. Their latest selection, the 1988 Tim Burton horror-comedy Beetlejuice, should give them plenty to work with. Expect the troupe to break out all the stops during the Harry Belafonte “Jump in the Line” dance routine. (Also Saturday, Nov. 21.)
Saturday, Nov. 21
Peaches w/ Amanda Blank @ Turner Hall Ballroom, 8 p.m.
Is Peaches’ sexually explicit crotch-rap a bold refutation of traditional gender roles, or is it just that much more exploitative because it feigns feminism as an excuse for bad, gynecological shock humor? That’s for each individual listener to decide, but judging from Peaches’ last two albums, 2006’s Impeach My Bush and this year’s I Feel Cream, you can’t fault anyone for assuming the latter. Peaches shares tonight’s bill with her de facto protégé, Amanda Blank, a leggy Philadelphia party girl. Unlike Peaches, Amanda Blank doesn’t feign commentary—she serves her sex straight up.
Tuesday, Nov. 24
Electric Six w/ The Gay Blades, Millions of Brazilians @ Mad Planet, 9 p.m.
they created major buzz, with a little help from a red hot Jack White,
with the 2003 single “Danger! High Voltage,” Detroit’s Electric Six
somehow failed to parlay that excitement into lasting mainstream
recognition. It wasn’t for lack of trying: The group tours voraciously
and has put out six albums since their brush with stardom. The latest
is last month’s Kill, a slightly darker than usual collection of
sinewy, tough-as-leather dance-rock designed as if to soundtrack the
trailers for PG-13 action-comedies. [Editor's note: The print version of This Week in Milwaukee incorrectly listed this show for Wednesday, Nov. 25]
A.A. Bondy @ Club Garibaldi, 8 p.m.
Alabama songwriter A.A. Bondy doesn’t seem to think much of his ’90s grunge band Verbena. Though the group retains a following, he dismisses it as if it were a passing, childish phase. This decade Bondy traded his electric guitar for an acoustic one, recording two albums of easy Southern folk, 2007’s American Hearts and this year’s When the Devil’s Loose. On both he sounds born again, like a man who’s finally found his calling, and fittingly he fills both discs with baptismal images of cleansing water.
The Jesus Lizard w/ IfIHadAHiFi @ Turner Hall Ballroom, 8 p.m.
Born of the late-1980s noise-rock scene, The Jesus Lizard released six proper albums of dark, abrasive rock before their 1999 breakup, including four Steve Albini-produced efforts for the sadly defunct Touch and Go Records and two for major label Capitol. This year the band reformed, initially only for a few gigs at the Pitchfork and All Tomorrow’s Parties festivals, but those shows so fully captured the band’s original spark that they’ve now set out for a full tour in conjunction with the re-mastering and re-release of the group’s classic Touch and Go albums. Though he’s pushing 50, singer David Yow still performs with the reckless, nihilistic intensity of a teenager.
Wednesday, Nov. 25
Sam Roberts Band and The Championship @ Club Garibaldi, 8 p.m.
It’s easy to imagine singer-songwriter Sam Roberts enduring the long Canadian winters of his youth by immersing himself in classic American rock records, finding an escape in the heartland rock of Bob Seger and Steve Miller and the power-pop of Big Star. These influences manifest on Roberts’ latest album with his Sam Roberts Band, Love at the End of the World, though they’re tamed, as if filtered through the worn-in armchair of Wilco’s Sky Blue Sky. Roberts is only in his mid-30s, but on the album’s lead single, “Them Kids,” he indulges his inner grumpy old man: “The kids don’t know how to dance to rock ’n’ roll,” he laments, “the golden years are under attack.” When his band rallies with cries of “Taking it back, taking it back!” it sounds more like a threat than a promise.
Sam Llanas @ Vnuk’s Lounge, 8:30 p.m.
Though they’ve remained visible locally, where they remain one of the city’s most reliable live draws, The BoDeans kept a low profile for much of this decade, releasing just two new studio albums: 2004’s Resolution and last year’s Still, a spirited return to form that reunited them with producer T-Bone Burnett. Tonight BoDeans co-lead Sam Llanas takes a break from the group for a solo show, which will hopefully find him revisiting material from his late-’90s side project Absinthe. That group released just one album, 1998’s A Good Day to Die, a poignant song cycle inspired by the suicide of Llanas’ brother.