Feb. 28 - Mar. 5
This Week in Milwaukee
Thursday, Feb. 28
Drive-By Truckers w/ The Felice Brothers @ Pabst Theater, 8 p.m.
The Drive-By Truckers’ Brighter Than Creation’s Dark is the band’s most assured and intense collection yet, a largely acoustic record that further distances the group from the Southern-rock and “cow-punk” labels they picked up early in their career. Album-opener “Two Daughters and a Beautiful Wife” sets the tone with simple chords and nakedly honest, purely beautiful storytelling. What follows is a sprawling, ambitious 19-song duel of rustic songwriting sensibilities between primary songwriters Patterson Hood and Mike Cooley. Opening for the group tonight is The Felice Brothers, a group recently signed to Conor Oberst’s Team Love label. Hailing from the Catskills and specializing in back-porch Americana, their sound has drawn fitting comparisons to Basement Tapes-era Dylan as well as Levon Helm and The Band.
Friday, Feb. 29
Dalek w/ Russian Circles and Young Widows @ Cactus Club, 10 p.m.
Unlike so many other abstract hip-hop artists who create only flimsy, vaguely dreamlike soundscapes, Dalek runs the gamut from shoegazey atmospherics to harsh blasts of industrial noise every bit as ferocious as you’d expect from two bulky, barbarous New Jerseyians. Even though the group’s temper has cooled on recent releases, the threat that their brainy musings could at any moment explode into combative dissonance keeps listeners on their toes. Russian Circles, of Chicago, throw down muscular, Don Caballero-styled math-rock, while Young Widows embrace their Louisville, K.Y., roots, channeling the jagged anger of native sons June of 44 and Rodan.
Angels and Airwaves w/ Meg & Dia, The Color Fred, Ace Enders @ Rave Eagles Club, 7 p.m.
On hiatus from blink-182, guitarist/vocalist Tom DeLonge immersed himself with work on Angels and Airwaves’ 2006 debut We Don’t Need To Whisper. The album was an effects-heavy exercise in prog-experimentalism, dismissed by most critics as an indulgent outlet for DeLonge. With blink-182 now on an indefinite hiatus, Angels and Airwaves released their second full-length, I-Empire, last November. A more stripped-down affair, the album is a conceptual piece filled with earnest, tuneful numbers that at times recall U2 and at others employ a New Wave throwback sensibility. Those attending tonight’s show in hopes of hearing a blink-182 cover may be in luck, since Angels and Airwaves have begun to incorporate a few choice songs from DeLonge’s better-known band into recent sets. Lovelorn emo-poppers Meg & Dia open.
Angels and Airwaves
Saturday, March 1
Video Games Live w/ The Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra @ Riverside Theater, 8 p.m.
Lending an air of sophistication—or at least extravagant novelty—to well-known video game scores, “Video Games Live” is an interactive experience complete with light shows and live-action performances. This Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra performance will emphasize familiar themes from games like Super Mario Brothers and The Legend of Zelda— come see if they sound as satisfying cascading over an audience as they did blaring from your basement television—but the new classics are represented as well (even Guitar Hero is given a nod).The money shot is a medley featuring Tetris, Frogger, Space Invaders and just about any other arcade classic fondly remembered from the golden age of gaming.
The Gufs w/ Hillcrest Road @ Turner Hall Ballroom, 8 p.m.
Thanks to the band’s continued play on regional modernrock radio for their hits “Smile” and “Crash (Into Me),” some might not have even noticed that The Gufs were on a sevenyear hiatus until their most recent disc, 2006’s A Different Sea, a study in trying to perfect the pop-rock anthem. Since their stint on Atlantic Records in the mid-’90s, the group has kept a lower profile, touring less and focusing on personal projects and non-musical endeavors, but the veteran band and local point of pride always seems to find the time for a hometown show.
Sky High Celebrates 20 Years @ The Paper Boat Gallery, 7 p.m.
Somewhat amazingly, Sky High, the modern-looking skateboard shop adorning a pleasant but unassuming stretch of Howell Avenue, has been there for 20 years, long before a class of young entrepreneurs moved into Bay View and turned the neighborhood into a hip yet quaint oasis for independent businesses. Sky High’s neighbor, the Paper Boat Boutique and Gallery, celebrates the store’s longevity this month with an exhibit of photos, skateboard decks and memorabilia collected throughout the years. An opening reception runs from 7 until 10 p.m. tonight at the gallery, then it’s on to Frank’s Power Plant for drinks and an after-party.
Marquette University Foreign Film Festival @ Marquette University, 3:45 p.m.
Marquette University kicks off the second year of its free, six-day Foreign Film Festival today with a pair of dramas (Ju Dou, from China, at 3:45 p.m., and Children of Heaven, from Iran, at 6:15 p.m.), before screening the ambitious ensemble film Paris je t’aime at 8:30 p.m. For Paris, more than 20 directors from around the world, including Alfonso Cuaron, Alexander Payne and Wes Craven, created quick vignettes about the city of romance. Recent Oscar superstars Joel and Ethan Coen contributed a particularly funny one starring Steve Buscemi as a luckless tourist.
Marquette University Foreign Film Festival
Little Blue Crunchy Things @ Shank Hall, 10 p.m.
Citizen King may have gotten more attention because of their commercial prospects, but perhaps no other Milwaukee band captured the freewheeling spirit of ’90s music better than Little Blue Crunchy Things, the loose funk/rap/jazz/alternative ensemble that used to pack Shank Hall on a regular basis (inevitably inciting crowd-surfing fans to tear down slabs of the venue’s drop ceiling). These days, the gang still gets together for occasional reunion shows.
Sunday, March 2
Billy Joel @ Bradley Center, 8 p.m.
Although his tabloid-documented battle with alcoholism tarnished his image somewhat, never let it be said that Billy Joel isn’t a man of his word. He promised that 1993’s River of Dreams would be his last pop album and, sure enough, 15 years later, he has no plans to record a follow-up. In 2001 he released his first classical album, Fantasies and Delusions, and last year he unveiled a new ballad he penned for his wife, celebrity chef Katie Lee, but that’s as close as he’s come. In many respects, the dearth of new material has actually made Joel a more coveted touring act. Fans who just want to hear old favorites know that they’ll get what they pay for.
The Taste of Chaos Tour @ The Rave, 5 p.m.
While the Warped Tour continues to expand, harboring bands across genres, the Taste of Chaos Tour, a newer creation from Warped Tour impresario Kevin Lyman, has kept its focus tight, inviting only bands on the harder end of the alternative rock and emo-core spectrum. Although this year’s tour lacks some of the star power of years past, when My Chemical Romance, The Deftones and 30 Seconds to Mars have headlined, the festival has had some luck breaking big stars (Paramore was discovered at a 2005 Orlando, Fla., performance), so there’s always the chance of seeing a potential next big thing. On the bill this year are Avenged Sevenfold, Atreyu, Bullet for My Valentine, Blessthefall, Idiot Pilot, Mucc, D’espairsRay and The Underneath.
Rain: The Beatles Experience @ The Riverside Theater, 8 p.m.
The Beatles’ only Wisconsin appearance was at the Milwaukee Arena in September 1964. For those too young to catch that show, “Rain: The Beatles Experience” promises a faithful recreation from that era, as well as all of the legendary foursome’s phases, from their wide-eyed early days to their Abbey Road send-off. The tribute band, culled from the cast of the Broadway hit Beatlemania, covers the Beatles oeuvre while an elaborate video projection screens vintage Beatles TV commercials and rare footage of the band.
91.7 WMSE 6th Annual Rockabilly Chili Contest @ MSOE Kern Center, 11 a.m.- 4 p.m.
The official culinary fund-raising event for 91.7 WMSE, the Rockabilly Chili Contest, celebrates six consecutive years today. Aside from knowing that they’re supporting one of the city’s finest noncommercial radio stations, patrons will be able to fill up on spicy offerings from more than 40 area eateries. Last year’s winners (Nessun Dorma and Wicked Hop for meat; Annona Bistro for vegetarian) will try to defend their respective crowns, while DJs from the station spin rockabilly, bluegrass, country and hot-rod sounds. Admission is $5, and chili samples are $1 each.