Our fat-free, dolphin-safe Milwaukee events calendar is chock-full of things to do, but only a handful of events are worthy of the lofty honor of “Record Recommended” (patent pending). Here are our recommendations for January 27 – February 2.
MONDAY, JANUARY 27
Ape Girl @ Cactus Club
Take a stroll through a carnival or a state fair and you may stumble across a remnant from the past. There, tucked away behind the Ferris wheel and the game where you sink ping pong balls in fish bowls, is the sideshow. The “freak show.” Sword swallowers, bearded ladies, alligator men. Though nowhere near as ubiquitous as they were during the late 19th and early 20th century, sideshows still cling to life in the technology-addled modern world, reminders of simpler (and stranger) times. That unlikely persistence is at the heart of Ape Girl, a wonderful documentary by Milwaukee filmmaker Cris Siqueira. The 60-minute film, which was named Best Documentary Feature at the 2018 Coney Island Film Festival, screens tonight at Cactus Club.
Argopelter @ Boone & Crockett
With Barry Clark on upright bass, Devin Drobka on drums, and Christopher Porterfield on guitar and vocals, the improvisational Argopelter travels to a myriad of places. It culls from Porterfield’s folk and Americana roots, Clark’s electronic background and symphony experience, and Drobka’s extensive jazz and experimental acumen. “The basis of improvisation is communication, and every time we play together as Argopelter, we learn more about how to communicate with one another,” Clark says. “There’s no ego and everybody is just listening to each other. It’s really malleable in the sense that if it goes one direction, everybody is going there.”
WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 29
Mandolin Orange + Kate Rhudy @ The Pabst Theater
After a decade of steady activity and steam-building, North Carolina folk duo Mandolin Orange seem poised to break big with the new Tides Of A Teardrop. Join Andrew Marlin, Emily Frantz, and opener Kate Rhudy for what’s sure to be a warm, heartfelt, and rejuvenating night of modern Americana.
THURSDAY, JANUARY 30
414 Live: L’Resorts @ 88Nine Radio Milwaukee
Tropical vibes and Milwaukee, Wisconsin may make for unlikely bedfellows, but don’t tell that to L’Resorts. On the band’s debut full-length, the sun is always out and the sand is always hot—even if the songs themselves deal in cloudier topics like heartbreak and loss. Another unlikely pairing: Jaill’s Vincent Kircher and Lady Cannon’s Martha Cannon (she of 2019’s also-excellent Fortune’s Darling), who combine their distinctive voices to create something both world-weary and warm. Opener “Baby Don’t” is all Hawaiian-shirt guitars and tumbling marimbas, while the heavenly “Separate Oceans” is an Instagram sunset set to song (and scored with even more marimbas). “You and me make a perfect team” Kircher and Cannon sing late on the album. Thirteen tracks of perfectly rendered and impossibly catchy tropical pop prove this boast to be true.
FRIDAY, JANUARY 31
Ravi/Lola + E.R. Jurken @ Circle-A Cafe
When one thinks of psych music in the 21st century, one tends to think of heavy, effects-laden rock. But there’s another side to modern psych—a softer, more melodic side that trades swirling dervishes of noise for baroque instrumentation and lyrical flights of fancy. For more than five years, Milwaukee’s Ravi/Lola has represented that latter side to great effect. The group’s 2019 album, Neighborhood Daydream, should be catnip for anyone who loves old-school Of Montreal, perfectly constructed and playfully realized pop music, and/or delightful music in general.
Saebra & Carlyle + DaveKevinAdam, DJ DRiPSweat @ Company Brewing
Though Saebra & Carlyle only started playing out in 2018, the duo’s roots extend more than 10 years, all the way back to when the project’s namesakes worked together at a shopping mall coffee chain. There, singer Saebra Laken and guitarist Carlyle Nowak decided they wanted to start a band together. It took more than a decade to happen, but the longtime friends have finally made good on their plan, and they’re making up for lost time with frequent shows and awesome videos.
Xposed 4Heads + Mixtape @ Pabst Milwaukee Brewery & Taproom
If you’re looking for wacky, irreverent, and delightfully catchy new wave music that owes more than a debt to bands like Devo, look no further than Milwaukee’s Xposed 4Heads. Founded in 1982 by Joy Farm mastermind Mark G.E., the 4Heads were an on-and-off concern for decades; beginning with 2015’s Choose To Be Human, however, the group re-established itself as a modern recording (and performing) mainstay. Urgency Squad was released in 2017, followed by 2019’s rock-solid Ultra Cloud. “Simple solutions for complex times / Cheer up, it’s party time” sings G.E. on Ultra Cloud‘s “Stuck In Orbit.” If there’s a recurring theme buzzing through the music of Xposed 4Heads, this is it.
SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 1
Burnhearts Mitten Fest 2020 @ Burnhearts
For the past seven years, Burnhearts Mitten Fest has helped combat cabin fever for thousands of people who converge in a two-block stretch on Bay View’s Potter Avenue (and part of Logan Avenue the last four years) with a wintry mix of live music, food, beverages, and charity. That equation alone will surely be enough to bring thousands of folks the 8th annual Mitten Fest. The eclectic and altogether awesome musical lineup also doesn’t hurt: The Eradicator, Zed Kenzo, Lauryl Sulfate & Her Ladies Of Leisure, Saebra & Carlyle, and King Eye & The Squirts.
Platinum Boys + Holy Shit!, Asher Gray @ High Dive
In these troubled and tumultuous times, the city of Milwaukee—nay, the entire world—needs the Platinum Boys. The hard-rocking, hard-partying group has been a fixture of the local scene since 2013, preaching the virtues of, well, hard-rocking and hard-partying. Every time a can of High Life or PBR cracks open, the Platinum Boys will be there. Every time someone steps out in a cowboy hat and cutoff shorts, the Platinum Boys will approve. Every time your week needs a shot of good-natured mischief, the Platinum Boys will do their thing. And so it goes with 2019’s Raw Romance, a speed- and weed-fueled barn-burner that alternates between manic highs (“Happens All The Time,” “Ain’t It Great? Ain’t It Crazy?”) and lighter-hoisting power ballads (the one-two punch of “I Will Get You High” and “Darlin”). The fact that the album was recorded during the Milwaukee Brewers’ run in the 2018 NLCS only adds to the fun.
Marc Maron @ Turner Hall Ballroom
Veteran comedian, actor, influential podcast host, and guy who played guitar on a Trapper Schoepp album Marc Maron comes back to Milwaukee with his new hour. Unlock your gates and make your way to this show. We good?