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Thursday, March 11, 2010

This Week in Milwaukee

Black Eyed Peas, Flogging Molly, Kevin Smith and the St. Patrick's Day Parade

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Thursday, March 11

Black Eyed Peas w/ Ludacris and LMFAO @ The Bradley Center, 7:30 p.m.

The Black Eyed Peas began innocuously in the late ’90s as a trio of breakdancers turned rappers to preach a message of positivity. That was, of course, before the 2003 addition of Stacy “Fergie” Ferguson, a former child star with a colorful past. With Fergie’s added sass and sex appeal, the hits came quickly— “Where Is the Love?” “Let’s Get It Started,” “Don’t Phunk With My Heart,” “My Humps,” “Pump It” and, most recently, the behemoths “Boom Boom Pow” and “I Gotta Feeling.” With these commercial triumphs, however, one of hip-hop’s most harmless bands emerged as one of pop’s most contentious institutions. Black Eyed Peas’ 2009 album The E.N.D. is, depending on your disposition, either the group’s boldest album yet, or its dumbest. It’s a 67-minute assault on the senses constructed from many of Top 40 pop’s most divisive trends, like Auto-Tune, hopscotch raps, club call-outs and, well, Fergie. Opener Ludacris this week released his seventh studio album, Battle of the Sexes, which features the whimsical Atlanta rapper’s latest hit, “How Low.” Also on the bill is LMFAO, whose fusion of rap and club music makes the Black Eyed Peas seem downright understated.

Friday, March 12

Flogging Molly @ The Rave, 8 p.m.

The once radical marriage of Celtic music and punk no longer seems so radical these days, as The Pogues-inspired punk bands that emerged in the ’90s have shown some unlikely traditionalist tendencies. Even Los Angeles’ Flogging Molly, one of the heaviest of the American Celtic punk bands, has toned down their early roar a bit over the years to make more time for folk ballads, rebel songs and other genuine displays of appreciation for the Celtic tradition. The group’s 2008 album Float embraced these softer sounds, but judging from their new double-disc live album Live at the Greek Theatre, the group still kicks up an unforgiving ruckus in concert.

Townes Van Zandt Tribute @ Linneman’s Riverwest Inn, 8 p.m.

In death, country-folk songwriter Townes Van Zandt achieved the respect and admiration that often eluded him during his nearly 30-year recording career, earning the esteem of both alt-country elites and many of the major figures in the modern roots-revival movement. This bill unites some of Van Zandt’s more outspoken local disciples, many of them regulars at Linneman’s annual Neil Young tributes, including The Carolinas, Chris DeMay, The Riverwest Aces, Juniper Tar’s Jason Mohr, Damian and Betty Strigens and Terry Hackbarth. The evening opens with a screening of the Van Zandt documentary Be Here to Love Me.


An Evening with Kevin Smith @ The Pabst Theater, 8 p.m.

Outspoken filmmaker Kevin Smith inspires such devotion from his fans that he’s made something of a second career out of talking about being Kevin Smith. The Clerks director’s frequent college Q&A appearances, where he geeks about his work as well as all things sci-fi, pop-culture and comic books, have been documented in three DVD collections, and fan interest suggests that more are on the way. Smith is open to talking about anything—and often at great length, as these events have been known to run for hours—so questions about Southwest Airlines, which allegedly removed Smith from an airplane because he was too obese, and Cop Out, Smith’s atrociously reviewed new buddycop comedy, are probably fair game.

Saturday, March 13

Milwaukee Blues Festival @ The Milwaukee Theatre, 7 p.m.

For better or worse, because of Milwaukee’s proximity to Chicago, our city’s blues festivals are dominated by shredding, electric-blues guitarists, but the lineup at the Milwaukee Blues Festival bucks that trend, prioritizing soul over volume. At age 80, headliner Bobby “Blue” Bland still sends chills down audiences’ spines with his soulful gospel tunes. Bland grew up just outside of Memphis, a hotbed for blues artists like W.C. Handy and Furry Lewis, and his music draws from that city’s unmistakable R&B tradition. A Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee who never found commercial success that matched his critical acclaim, Bland will share tonight’s bill with other artists whose work trends as much toward soul and R&B as blues, including Bobby Rush, Theodis Ealey, O.B. Buchana, Millie Jackson and Ms. Jody.

The Admirals w/ Foreigner @ The Bradley Center, 7:30 p.m.

Foreigner didn’t let the 2003 departure of singer Lou Gramm rip them from the lucrative nostalgia touring circuit, opting to carry on with replacement singers, the latest of which, Kelly Hansen, sounds uncannily like him. Now down to a lone original member, guitarist Mick Jones, the group followed the lead of their peers and released their 2009 album Can’t Slow Down as a Wal-Mart exclusive, a threedisc package that includes a DVD and a disc of re-recorded greatest hits like “Juke Box Hero” and “I Want to Know What Love Is.” Foreigner performs after the Milwaukee Admirals’ 7:30 p.m. game against the Toronto Marlies tonight.

Kramp & Adler’s Comedy Festival @ Turner Hall Ballroom, 8 p.m.

FM 102.1’s morning DJs Kramp and Adler rounded up a horde of rising comedians for their comedy festival, including Nick Kroll, Wyatt Cenac and Nick Thune. Kroll has come to attention through his role on FX’s “The League,” a partially improvised show about a group of fantasy football enthusiasts.

He also appeared in I Love You, Man and has filmed several upcoming movies, including Date Night, with Steve Carell and Tina Fey. Cenac, meanwhile, wrote for FOX’s “King of the Hill” and performed at the Upright Citizens Brigade and Improv Olympic before becoming the current “minority reporter” for “The Daily Show,” and Thune has been a correspondent for Jay Leno’s show and has appeared on Comedy Central.

St. Patrick’s Day Parade @ Downtown Milwaukee, 12 p.m.

The Shamrock Club of Wisconsin celebrates its 50th anniversary with its annual St. Patrick’s Day Parade, now in its 44th year. It’s the state’s largest, with more than a hundred units, including Irishthemed floats and regional pipe and drum corps. The parade begins at Third Street and Wisconsin Avenue and continues to Highland Avenue and Water Street. The Friends of St. Patrick will collect nonperishable food for the Hunger Task Force along the parade route.

Sunday, March 14

Yo Gabba Gabba! Live! @ The Riverside Theater, 2 and 5 p.m.

Currently entertaining children—and their parents—via Nick Jr. networks across the world, “Yo Gabba Gabba!” and its host, DJ Lance Rock, mix ’80s animation with musical performance and a pack of odd characters by the names of Muno, Foofa, Brobee and Toodee. The deliberately absurdist, retro-minded show has featured a number of celebrity guests over its run, including The Shins, Andy Samberg, Elijah Wood, Sean Kingston and beat-boxing old-school legend Biz Markie. The show maintains that “look who stopped by” quality for this live tour, which will feature appearances by Markie as well as the ska-accented synth-pop band The Aquabats.

Sunday, March 14

Rain – A Tribute to The Beatles @ Milwaukee Theatre, 7 p.m.

Thirty years later, London Calling’s memorable declaration about phony Beatlemania is still being proven wrong. In ways even The Clash couldn’t have pictured, The Beatles brand is endlessly stamped on every form of memorabilia imaginable, from T-shirts and toys to board games, video games and this show, which charts the trajectory of the Fab Four’s career, from their uptight, black-suit beginnings to their flower-power Sgt. Pepper’s Band uniforms and their infamous walk across Abbey Road.

Tuesday, March 16

Tyler Perry’s Madea’s Big Happy Family @ U.S. Cellular Arena, 7:30 p.m.

Playwright Tyler Perry took a five-year break from live theater, but he has a lot to show for that time: He followed up his hit 2005 film debut, Diary of a Mad Black Woman, by writing and directing a whopping eight films, starring in many of them in drag as the saucy matriarch Madea, a role he also occasionally plays on his TV show “House of Payne.” Many of those projects have confounded critics outside of Perry’s intended black audiences, but Perry’s role in promoting the critical hit Precious affirmed his reputation as one of the entertainment industry’s most powerful (and prolific) moguls. For his latest play, Madea’s Big Happy Family, Perry dons his signature fat suit and returns to live theaters—or, more accurately, gigantic arenas—in a musical production that allows him plenty of room to ad-lib and break character.