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Wednesday, June 2, 2010

This Week in Milwaukee

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Friday, June 4

Verge Music Festival @ Summerfest Grounds, 5 p.m.

Summerfest’s inaugural, two-day alternative music festival Verge kicks off with an opening day topped by the brooding alt-metal/post-grunge group Three Days Grace, who are supported on the main stage by Eagles of Death Metal and Crash Kings. The side stage offers a softer alternative, with a 9 p.m. set by She & Him, the folk-pop project from independent-film pixie Zooey Deschanel and guitarist M. Ward. Some Milwaukee bands also brighten the lineup, including Red Knife Lottery, The Wildbirds, The Championship and 1956.

Thursday, June 3



Jewel w/ Kip Moore @ The Pabst Theater, 8 p.m.

In spring 1995, young and mostly unknown folk-pop singer-songwriter Jewel released her debut, Pieces of You, which went on to become one of the best-selling debut albums of all time, earning the singer three Grammy nominations and three hit singles (“You Were Meant for Me,” “Who Will Save Your Soul” and “Foolish Games”). In the decadeplus since, Jewel has thrown mostly curveballs, releasing a 2003 dance-pop album, 0304; a mainstream country record, 2007’s Perfectly Clear; and last year a bizarre children’s album issued through Fisher-Price, Lullaby. Set for release next week, Jewel’s upcoming album Sweet and Wild is another country record, complete with a cover photo that shows the singer dolled up like an extra from “The Dukes of Hazzard.”

The Juan MacLean @ Moct, 10 p.m.

The Juan MacLean beat-maker John MacLean came to dance music relatively late in Freeway life, after spending the ’90s with the experimental punk band Six Finger Satellite, but he’s since gone on to prove himself to be one of electronic music’s most staunch traditionalists, recording studied throwbacks to disco and late-’80s house without the hint of winking irony that his DFA Records affiliation might suggest. Last year MacLean burnished his house credentials with a mix for the !K7 DJ-Kicks series, which proved him as versed in modern dance music as the classics, and should lay the foundation for the DJ set MacLean will perform tonight.

John McLaughlin and The Rogues w/ Brew City Bombshells, God’s Outlaw and Uncle Larry @ The Miramar Theatre, 8:40 p.m.

A Milwaukee composer who has earned a reputation for his moody contributions to underground films, John McLaughlin’s latest project is a bluesy, vaudevillian band. John McLaughlin and The Rogues recreate the eerie spirit of early black-and-white films, conjuring antique jazz and Americana with dusty upright bass, violin and accordion. Tonight, the band marks the release of its debut album, Short Stories, a project spawned by McLaughlin’s soundtrack work for an independent film called Bitch. The bill includes performances from the Brew City Bombshells burlesque troupe and sets from the country and rock bands God’s Outlaw and Uncle Larry.



Kris Allen @ Turner Hall Ballroom, 8 p.m.

“American Idol” runner-up Crystal Bowersox can take solace in knowing that sometimes the real winner of the show isn’t the contestant who receives the most votes. Last season, for instance, the flamboyant Adam Lambert was bested by nice-guy Kris Allen in an upset that sparked conspiracy theories about “Idol” vote fixing, yet it was Lambert who went on to release a hit album, dominating headlines and magazine covers, while Allen quietly promoted his modestselling record. While Lambert broke out as the real star of “American Idol’s” eighth season, Allen has set about positioning himself as a career musician, co-writing most of his record and singing laid-back soft-pop that seeks not so much to storm the charts as to simply reward the loyalty of Kris Allen the fans who voted for him.


Saturday, June 5

Verge Music Festival @ Summerfest Grounds, 2 p.m.

The Verge Music Festival saves its biggest headliner for its second night: Weezer, the iconic ’90s power-pop band that emerged from a late-’90s hiatus for an impressive run of hit singles from albums that sometimes disappointed longtime fans, but just as often earned them new ones. Punk staples AFI co-headline, along with indie-rockers Rogue Wave and The Raveonettes, alt-rockers Cold War Kids and Manchester Orchestra, and support from local acts including Juniper Tar, Figureheads, Invade Rome, Pezzettino, Jaill and Revision Text.


Three 6 Mafia w/ The Authority @ The Rave, 8 p.m.

After more than a decade of service to the hardcore rap game, Memphis rappers Three 6 Mafia broke out in a decidedly commercial direction with 2003’s Da Unbreakables, toning down the blunt violence of early albums to prove themselves commercial players. That album’s success seemed quaint, however, compared to the response to their 2005 song for the film Hustle & Flow, “It’s Hard Out Here for a Pimp.” That song made them the first rap act to win an Academy Award, and the group’s award-show performance ranks high among the most memorable Oscar moments of the last decade. Following recent tradition, Three 6 Mafia’s upcoming 10th album, Laws of Power, promises plenty of crossover appeal, thanks to contributions from hit-makers Dr. Luke, Mouth Kevin of the Rudolf, Architect Flo Rida and Sean Kingston.



Monday, June 7

Trashcan Sinatras w/ The Candles @ Shank Hall, 8 p.m.

Part of a spate of Scottish indie-pop bands that emerged in the late-’80s, Trashcan Sinatras released a string of blissful, clean-cut guitar-pop records at a time when radio was beginning to favor modern-rock with a grittier edge. Despite all the critical accolades they invited, commercial success eluded them, and they slowed down after their 1996 album A Happy Pocket. Recent years have seen a pair of new albums, 2004’s Weightlifting and their latest release, In the Music, a softer collection featuring an unlikely guest spot from Carly Simon. The band is working on a compilation of rare, early material for possible release later this year.

Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros w/ Dawes @ The Pabst Theater, 8 p.m.

With dreams of a permanent summer of love, Los Angeles musician Alex Ebert of the dance-punk band Ima Robot reinvented himself as his messiah-like alter ego Edward Sharpe and formed a merry band of ’60s fetishists. Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros’ wildly lovable 2009 debut, Up From Below, updates the flower-power chants of The Mamas & The Papas with flashes of Arcade Fire grandeur and Polyphonic Spree’s stage-filling showmanship, which made them an immediate live draw. Last year they packed a sweaty sold-out show at Club Garibaldi; they return to Milwaukee tonight to the much larger Pabst Theater.



Tuesday, June 8

Damien Jurado w/ Kay Kay and His Weathered Underground and Conrad Plymouth @ Mad Planet, 9 p.m.

Since the mid-’90s, Seattle’s Damien Jurado has been recording pretty songs about ugly emotions, sung in a husky voice that suits his blunt lyrics. After a series of buzzed-about cassette-only releases in the ’90s, he cemented his reputation as one of indie-rock’s great songwriters with a trio of turn-of-the-century releases for Sub Pop, including his breakthrough Rehearsals for Departure, and he’s since recorded at a steady clip, issuing four strong discs for Secretly Canadian over the last five years. His latest, Saint Bartlett, is among his most lavishly orchestrated, supplementing Jurado’s pining folk songs with string arrangements that suggest a small-scale Flaming Lips.

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