Alice Cooper, 8 p.m. Wednesday, March 14, Orpheum Theater, 216 State St., Madison. Tickets: $49-$59. Call Ticketmaster at 800-745-3000.
More than any other artist in the 1970s, Alice Cooper came to define shock rock with violent and vile stage theatrics.
A singer and songwriter with a raspy voice, Cooper simulated executions via guillotine, dismembered baby dolls and spewed fake blood across the stage in a show that thrilled teenage rockers and appalled their parents. Cooper was controversial and also hugely successful in the ‘70s, but he and the band never reached that level of record sales and concert receipts in subsequent decades.
Vincent Furnier was born and raised in Detroit in 1948 and adopted his stage persona while living in Los Angeles in 1968. The band played the Southern California bar circuit and established a reputation as the worst band in L.A. The band was discovered by Frank Zappa, who recorded its first two albums. Both sold poorly.
The band moved back to Detroit in 1970 and lived for several months in a single hotel room before the release of its major label debut, “Love It to Death.” The album became the first in a string of hit records and included the single “Eighteen.” The band’s other hits from the period included “School’s Out,” “Elected,” “Hello Hooray” and “No More Mr. Nice Guy.”
The band broke up in ’74, and Cooper began using musicians such as ex-Lou Reed guitarists Dick Wagner and Steve Hunter. In ’78, Cooper committed himself to a psychiatric hospital for treatment of alcoholism.
Cooper is credited with helping to shape the sound and look of heavy metal, and he has been described as the artist who first introduced horror imagery to rock music. He released his 27th studio album, “Paranormal,” last July.
Todd Snider, 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, March 14, Stoughton Opera House, 381 E. Main St., Stoughton. Reed Foehl also performs. Tickets: $27. Call 608-877-4400.
Singer, songwriter and storyteller Todd Snider is known for his inimitable stage banter and story songs, all of which helped him establish a devoted following over the past 25 years. He has released 17 albums, including an album in 2012 that reached No. 6 on the U.S. folk music charts.
In 2016, Snider released his latest album, “Eastside Bulldog,” which Rolling Stone magazine described as “brilliantly bizarre.”
Snider was born and raised in Portland, Oregon. He decided at an early age to be a professional musician and was inspired by such musicians Jerry Jeff Walker, John Prine and Kris Kristofferson. Before starting a recording career, he worked as a “runner” for Prine in Nashville, when Prine recorded a Grammy-winning album in 1991. Snider later performed as an opening act for Prine’s shows.
“He’s the main person that when I was young, I wanted to have a life like that,” Snider said. “I wanted to be John Prine.”
“I felt like I got to learn as much as you can learn from that,” he added. “In another sense, a person who’s been struck by lightning can’t show you how to do it.”
Snider has made a career of writing and singing about characters who exist on the margins of society and often cling to life with a flimsy grasp. His life as a touring musician has frequently placed him in vulnerable positions, and he’s dealt with more than his share of addiction and substance abuse—much of which he used as material for his songs.
In 2014, Snider was invited to join a jam band—Hard Working Americans led by Widespread Panic bassist Dave Schools. Snider serves as lead singer and lyricist in the group, which has released two albums and tours frequently.
Snider said being part of a band re-energized his work as a solo artist.
“When the band gets together, I always feel like I learn something that I can take back to my folk life,” he said. “I still really like writing songs and performing, and I look forward to it.”
They Might Be Giants, 8 p.m. Friday, March 16, The Pabst Theater, 144 E. Wells St., Milwaukee. Tickets: $29.50. Call 414-286-3663.
John Linnell and John Flansburgh formed They Might Be Giants as a duo in 1982. A decade later, the two recruited other musicians to join their group. The act is still together and going strong, having just released its 20th album, “I Like Fun.”
Linnell, on accordion and saxophone, and Flansburgh, on guitar, were childhood friends who wrote songs together in high school but didn’t perform together until both had moved to New York City after college.
They’re best known for an unconventional and experimental style of alternative music. They released their self-titled debut album in 1986, and it became a hit on college campuses. They produced a video from a single (“Don’t Let’s Start”) on the album, which was a hit on MTV and gained the duo a larger audience.
In 1988, they released their second album, “Lincoln,” named after their hometown. It featured the song “Ana Ng,” which reached No. 11 on Billboard’s Modern Rock chart.
The group won a Grammy Award in 2002 for its single “Boss of Me,” which later became the theme song to the TV series “Malcolm in the Middle.” It received a second Grammy in 2009 for the kids’ album “Here Come the 123s.” They Might Be Giants have sold more than 4 million albums, according to the group’s website.
Gabriel Iglesias, 6 p.m. Friday, March 9, The Riverside Theater, 116 W. Wisconsin Ave., Milwaukee. Tickets: $45-$75. Call 414-286-3663.
Comedian and actor Gabriel Iglesias has come a long way from the subsidized housing apartment complexes of Southern California where he grew up. He has appeared in more than 20 films, made even more television appearances and released three comedy albums since the late 1990s.
Iglesias goes by the stage name Fluffy, the result of his often-repeated quip, “I’m not fat, I’m fluffy.” In 2014, he played himself in “The Fluffy Movie,” a stand-up comedy concert film that was taken from two shows in San Diego. Comedy Central debuted a stand-up showcase series in 2011, “Gabriel Iglesias Presents Stand Up Revolution,” which Iglesias produced and hosted.