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Thursday, Feb. 3, 2011

This Week in Milwaukee

Peter Wolf Crier, Mason Jennings and .357 String Band

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FRIDAY, FEB. 4




Peter Wolf Crier w/ Retribution Gospel Choir @ Shank Hall, 8 p.m.

That the Minneapolis duo Peter Wolf Crier released their debut record, Inter-Be, on Jagjaguwar, the same label as Bon Iver, only further invited comparisons that were probably already inevitable. Peter Wolf Crier’s music follows a similar template as Bon Iver—warbling falsetto; a raw, self-recorded aesthetic; and “man in transition” lyrical motifs—but the group distinguishes itself with singer-songwriter Peter Pisano’s feverish guitar and the blunt, primal percussion of drummer Brian Moen. This bill pairs Peter Wolf Crier with Retribution Gospel Choir, the rock-minded trio from Low singer-guitarist Alan Sparhawk and bassist Steve Garrington, which last year released its sophomore album, 2, on Sub Pop Records.

Riverdance @ Milwaukee Theatre, 8 p.m.

From its beginnings as a seven-minute dance interval performed at the 1994 Eurovision Song Contest, the Irish step-dancing act Riverdance quickly developed into an international sensation as the popular, critically acclaimed production toured the world. With its signature unison dance lines and high-energy choreography, a blend of tap and ballet, the show remains a visual spectacle, but it’s taking a bow with this year’s farewell tour, which stops at the Milwaukee Theatre for three performances this weekend. This may be Milwaukee’s last chance to catch the original Riverdance production—given the show’s enduring popularity, though, it seems likely spinoff productions could take its place. (Also Saturday, Feb. 5, at 2 and 8 p.m.)

Grease Sing-Along @ Times Cinema, 6:30 and 9 p.m.

Released in 1978 near the height of 1950s nostalgia and anchored by an iconic performance from John Travolta, Grease became the most commercially successful musical fi lm of its time and the third-highest-grossing fi lm of the ’70s. More than three decades later, the fi lm still commands a cult following, so much so that Paramount last year released a sing-along version of the fi lm, inviting audiences to sing along with lyrics printed on the screen. The Times Cinema hosts multiple sing-along Grease screenings through Sunday.



Mason Jennings @ Turner Hall Ballroom, 9 p.m.

Mason Jennings was raised in Pennsylvania after moving from Hawaii at a young age, but his folkpop nonetheless retains the tropical fl avor and whimsical spirit of his home state. His balmy tunes about easy love and playful carousing invite thoughts of summer and lazy days in hammocks. It’s only fi tting, then, that after a short and unlikely stint on Modest Mouse frontman Isaac Brock’s label Glacial Pace, Jennings landed on Brushfi re Records, the label of occasional tour mate and fellow native Hawaiian Jack Johnson. Jennings’ latest album for Brushfi re, Blood of Man, adds more electric guitars to his usually acoustic mix, but preserves his usual, easygoing vibe.

SATURDAY, FEB. 5


Less Than Jake w/ The Supervillains and The Dopamines @ The Rave, 7 p.m.

Like Reel Big Fish, another of the quintessential ’90s ska-punk bands, Less Than Jake kept recording and touring into the new millennium. But unlike Reel Big Fish, which turned bitter after the commercial tides turned against them, Less Than Jake has continued to put out vital albums. Their latest, 2008’s GNV FLA, a tribute to their hometown of Gainesville, Fla., is a spirited successor to their 1996 major-label breakthrough, Losing Streak. The album maintains the punchy horns that made the band so popular, but fl aunts a newfound maturity and sincerity that most ska bands their age can’t claim. Less inspired was last year’s off-the-cuff TV/EP, a 12-minute covers collection of TV theme songs and jingles.

Mighty Short Bus @ Milwaukee Ale House, 9:30 p.m.

Hailing from Wisconsin’s capital, Mighty Short Bus plays roots-rock in its purest form, replete with barrelhouse piano riffs, rowdy guitar solos, ample drum fills and gruff vocals. With lyrics detailing the rigors of blue-collar life and enough fast-paced tempos to give the casual drinker’s dancing shoes a workout, Mighty Short Bus doesn’t stray far from its country-rock orthodoxy, relying on the enduring appeal of classic American rock to bring the crowd out to their many bar shows around the state.

Steez @ Fire on Water, 8 p.m.

Steez, self-proclaimed pioneer of “creepfunk,” has trademarked a fittingly bizarre term for its jam-band fusion of synthesized funk, gritty rock and up-tempo fusion. With its blaring saxophone and freaky keyboards, this Madison quintet often seems to imagine an acidspiked jam session between Prince, Steely Dan and Herbie Hancock, and though song titles like “Trouser Snakes” make it clear the band doesn’t take itself too seriously, they hammer out some formidable grooves.

.357 String Band w/ The Fatty Acids and Zebras @ Turner Hall Ballroom, 8 p.m.

There’s no shortage of young bands resurrecting the sounds of American bluegrass these days, but many of them do so in the spirit of modern jam music, spinning long improvisations from the genre’s strident twang. Milwaukee’s .357 String Band takes a different approach, toughening up their bluegrass with washes of rock ’n’ roll and punk. They’ve coined their own term for their take on the genre: “streetgrass.”



The Decemberists and Mountain Man @ The Riverside Theater, 8 p.m.

The caterwauling Colin Meloy and his troupe of instrumental accomplices deliver an admirable mix of jangle-pop, Americana blues and balladic folk on The Decemberists’ sixth studio album, The King Is Dead, which they released to strong sales last month. The album marks a return to basics for the band, which confounded many fans with its 2009 progrock-opera The Hazards of Love. This album eschews mock-metal guitars and instead pays homage to one of the band’s earliest muses, R.E.M., even featuring R.E.M. guitarist Peter Buck on three tracks. Lending to The King Is Dead’s earthy tone is Americana darling Gillian Welch, who sings backup on much of the album.



MONDAY, FEB. 7

Bay View Community Center Third Annual Wine Tasting Benefit @ Potawatomi Bingo Casino, 7 p.m.

Held in the Woodland Dreams Ballroom and sponsored by the Forest County Potawatomi Foundation, this wine-tasting benefit will entertain those attending with hors d’oeuvres, more than 40 different fine wines, a “Chair-ity” auction for chairs designed by local artists, and a silent auction for various donated items. Proceeds will go to the Bay View Community Center for programs to help families and individuals in need.