This Week in Milwaukee
Invade Rome, Celebrated Workingman and Bad Boy Bill
Friday, Jan. 8
Invade Rome w/ The Celebrated Workingman @ Frank’s Power Plant, 9 p.m.
After years of playing together as Freshwater Collins, the guys in Invade Rome introduced a new band name and a newly heavy psych-rock sound on their 2008 album, Light Eyed & Villainous, which pit rabid, roaring guitar riffs against colossal drums. The departure of longtime guitarist Josh Tovar this summer reduced the group to a power trio, a turn that left their sound even louder and heavier. Invade Rome shares a bill tonight with Milwaukee rockers The Celebrated Workingman and two Chicago openers, Chaperone and Buffalo Heart.
Total Emersion @ Danceworks Studio Theatre, 7:30 p.m.
New York choreographer and Milwaukee expatriate Catey Ott brings a quartet of dancers to town (including fellow one-time Milwaukeeans Barbi Powers and Jes Louise Schultz) for a program called “Total Emersion.” Set to musical compositions by Randall Woolf, Vijay Iyer, Bora Yoon, Iva Bittová and Marti Epstein, these dances explore themes of dreams, meditation, memories and self-actualization. The New York dancers will be joined by six Milwaukee dancers during one of the program’s centerpieces, a dance titled Hope. (Also Jan. 9 at 7:30 p.m.; Jan. 10 at 2:30 p.m.)
Gende’s Giant @ Shank Hall, 9 p.m.
Few cover bands have taken on a more arduous task than Gende’s Giant, an Illinois group that has dedicated itself to the songbook for Gentle Giant, which wrote arguably some of the most difficult progressive rock songs of the 1970s, fusing hard-rock with medieval undertones and classical-music progressions, while subverting traditional time signatures. Gende’s Giant specializes in Gentle Giant’s earlier, proggier material since, like Genesis and other ’70s prog-rock bands, Gentle Giant eventually began simplifying their songs in a push for pop radio play.
Saturday, Jan. 9Micah Schnabel and Tom Vollman @ Art Bar, 9 p.m.
With his kinda-sorta alt-country band Two Cow Garage, singer-songwriter Micah Schnabel explores the louder end of roots music, drawing as much inspiration from ’80s and ’90s college rock and grunge as traditional country troubadours. The group’s latest album, Speaking in Cursive, sounds like a particularly rugged Soul Asylum or Replacements record. If there’s a downside to that—and this is a big if—it’s that all the crunch of the loud/soft dynamics overshadows Schnabel’s smart (if aggressively cynical) songs, but those songs should come across nicely tonight when Schnabel plays a solo show.
Before he was a storied DJ, Bad Boy Bill was just another Windy City house fan, mixing records in his bedroom at 4 a.m. and priming for a shot on the decks. Like many players of the day, Bill let his beats speak for themselves—until they caught the legendary ear of Farley “Jackmaster” Funk of WBMX’s Hot Mix 5 team. After more than 20 years in dance music, Bill’s live sets continue to reflect his hip-hop roots, with the DJ often using four turntables at once. In the end, he still delivers fast, fluid performances that hang loosely over audiences before pulling them in with sonic flash.
Sunday, Jan. 10In the Face of War w/ Cut Short, Damages, Curb and Maidens @ Borg Ward Collective, 7 p.m.
Some of the best hardcore bands hail from the most unlikely places. In the Face of War comes from unassuming Kokomo, Ind., a small Midwestern city where the first mechanical corn picker was invented in the early 1920s and canned tomato juice was created in 1928. It’s not exactly a thriving metropolis. Over the span of four albums, the members of In the Face of War have worn their youth as a time bomb, playing melodic hardcore in the vein of Modern Life Is War with the heavier undertones of Converge’s metalcore, using three guitarists to lend texture to their sound. The band’s latest album, Everything You’ve Heard Is True, is their first for South Dakota-based Init Records, which has also released albums from Milwaukeeans Cougar Den and Since By Man.