Friday, March 5, 2010
Tonight @ The Pabst Theater, 8 p.m.
Whirlwind mandolinist Chris Thile spent more than 15 years playing with his roots-pop trio Nickel Creek, but in recent years he spent more and more time working on his many outside projects, and by the time the band called it quits last year it was clear that his star had outgrown Nickel Creek. He’s since dedicated most of his energies to the Punch Brothers, a quintet that nurtures Thile’s ever-expanding ambitions, letting him perform lengthy, classical-inspired suites. At their best, Punch Brothers place more emphasis on composition than on showboating jamming, but that’s not to say that Thile doesn’t still toss the bluegrass faithful loads of red meat in the form of plentiful banjo, mandolin and fiddle solos.