This Week in Milwaukee
Wilco, Milwaukee Zine Fest and Urban Garage Sale
THURSDAY, DEC. 8
Pterodactyl w/ The Jonesers @ Frank's Power Plant, 9:30 p.m.
After two albums of deranged, abrasively noisy psychedelic art-pop, including 2009's densely packed Worldwild, Brooklyn's Pterodactyl has made its catchiest, most accessible record yet with its newest release, Spills Out. It's still a jittery, deeply weird album, brimming with clanks and clatter and off-kilter guitar riffs, but this time the group ties all that business together with an almost Beatles-esque sense of melody and genuinely sweet three-part harmonies.
Festive Soiree with Robin Pluer and Friends @ Turner Hall Ballroom, 6:30 p.m.
A longtime tradition during the holidays, Robin Pluer's cabaret-style show dazzles its audience not only with a candlelit setting, but also with the sultry tones of the headlining chanteuse. Pluer's Festive Soiree features several other Milwaukee greats, such as guitarist Paul Cebar, percussionist Kim Zick and Connie Grauer on piano and vocals. Cebar injects his bluesy influence into Edith Piaf classics, while Zick and Grauer (who make up the group Mrs. Fun) add spice to old favorites like “Silent Night.”
Smokey Robinson @ Potawatomi Bingo Casino, 8 p.m.
Throughout the '60s, Smokey Robinson was the most prolific figure in Motown, writing dozens of hits both for his own group, The Miracles, and for the label's other stars, including The Four Tops, The Temptations and Marvin Gaye. He continued to be a trailblazer as a solo artist in the '70s, taking R&B in softer directions with his 1975 album A Quiet Storm. He's recorded only intermittently since the '90s, but in 2006 he released the covers collection Timeless Love, which he followed in 2009 with a strong album of smooth new material, Time Flies When You're Having Fun.
FRIDAY, DEC. 9
Wilco w/ Nick Lowe @ The Riverside Theater, 7:30 p.m.
Since their 1995 studio debut, A.M., Wilco has grown from one of the defining alt-country bands into one of the most influential bands of their generation, period. With 1999's Summerteeth, singersongwriter Jeff Tweedy indulged his studio-pop fascination, and by 2002's Yankee Hotel Foxtrot and 2004's A Ghost Is Born, he had transformed the band into avant-garde innovators of American music. Subsequent releases have juggled those experimental tendencies with rock traditionalism, and although 2009's Wilco (The Album) was too cheeky and self-amused for its own good, the band's latest, The Whole Love, is a winning summation of the band's strengths. It's as purely fun as any record the band has released since the '90s.
CoPA's Fifth Annual Midwest Juried Photo Exhibition @ Walker's Point Center for the Arts, 5-9 p.m.
Hailing primarily from Wisconsin, with Illinois, Michigan and Minnesota also represented, 30 photographers will have their work featured by the Coalition of Photographic Arts at its fifth annual Juried Photo Exhibition. Both rising artists and those already well established in the Midwest photography scene will have their work on display at Walker's Point Center for the Arts through Jan. 21. This year's juror, Chicago gallery owner Catherine Edelman, chose from more than 450 photographs in order to narrow down the winners to these individuals. Edelman will speak at tonight's opening reception.
SATURDAY, DEC. 10
Milwaukee Zine Fest @ Polish Falcon, 10 a.m.-5 p.m.
The Internet has done little to curb zine culture. As long as there is paper, there will always be writers, music fans, artists and cartoonists eager to self-publish their works. Dozens of such zinemakers will be displaying and selling their work at the fourth annual Milwaukee Zine Fest, a free event at the Polish Falcon, 801 E. Clarke St., while the Cream City Collectives, across the street at 732 E. Clarke St., hosts a number of zine-related workshops throughout the day.
Milwaukee Symphony Plays The Music of Led Zeppelin@ The Riverside Theater, 7 p.m.
Following its past successes covering the likes of Pink Floyd, the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra will again display its versatility by playing the music of Led Zeppelin, including the entirety of the hard-rock group's self-titled fourth album. Backed by the live orchestra, vocalist/ guitarist Randy Jackson, electric violinist Allegra and conductor/arranger Brent Havens, the orchestra will create exquisite renderings of the band's most iconic songs, complete with dueling strings and powerhouse vocals worthy of Robert Plant himself.
The Mighty Deerlick w/ Ramma Lamma and Rabble Rabble @ Cactus Club, 10 p.m.
Unlike most of their peers from Milwaukee's '80s punk and alternative scene, The Mighty Deerlick never broke up or took a long hiatus; they just continued to play the same raucous, Dead Milkmenstyled punk they'd always loved as the decades passed, albeit with a lineup that's rotated considerably over the years. They've also kept alive one of their favorite traditions: their annual Christmas show, where they play originals like “Rasta Claus” and “I Got a Boner for Christmas.”
Urban Garage Sale @ Turner Hall Ballroom, 10 a.m.
Rife with mothball-ridden furs and appliances not long for this world, garage sales can be a chore to sift through. That shouldn't be the case with Heavy Rotation's Urban Garage Sale, featuring wares from Rishi Tea, Fred Boutique, Hot Pop and Fair Trade for All, to name a few. A $3 cover opens the door to steep discounts on local wares, including Heavy Rotation's own tees, going for $5 a pop, locally made jewelry and other unique Milwaukee treasures. There will be music throughout the day, some of it from Radio Milwaukee DJ Tarik Moody, and the Turner Hall Ballroom's bar will be serving up drinks.
SUNDAY, DEC. 11
Bel Canto Chorus: Christmas in the Basilica@ Basilica of St. Josaphat, 3 p.m.
Under the leadership of music director Richard Hynson, who has conducted the company for more than two decades, the Bel Canto Chorus returns to the South Side's gorgeous Basilica of St. Josaphat for one of Milwaukee's grandest holiday concerts. Joined by the Bel Canto Boy Choirs and the Milwaukee Handbell Ensemble, the chorus' hundred or so singers will perform a number of favorite holiday pieces, including “Silent Night” and “The First Noel.” The choir will be selling a CD of its Christmas recordings at the performance.