Home / Columns / This Week in Milwaukee / Jul. 31 - Aug. 6
Friday, Aug. 1, 2008

Jul. 31 - Aug. 6

This Week in Milwaukee

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Thursday, July 31

CSS w/ The Go! Team and Matt & Kim @ Turner Hall Ballroom, 8 p.m. Hailing from Sao Paulo and sounding like a self-aware, electro-chic version of Avril Lavigne with a playfully dry sense of humor, CSS seemingly survived the pitfalls of a cutesy beginning in iPod Touch commercials. The band recently released their second album, the critically perplexing Donkey, which show cases a notably more somber yet equally retro collection of valley-pop nostalgia and modern hip. CSS shares this consciously trendy bill with The Go! Team, one of the first and best of the modern indie-rock bands to chant, cheer and pep-rally their way through their records and concerts, and Matt & Kim, a duo whose simple drum-and-keyboard songs have lent themselves to killer remixes such as Mano’s “It’s a Fact” remix, which lit up dance clubs earlier this year.

Friday, August 1

Vans Warped Tour @ The Marcus Amphitheater, 12 p.m. What’s largely missing from this year’s lineup of the Warped Tour, the country’s preeminent punk festival? You guessed it: punk. The schedule this year is dominated by Christian metal core outfits (As I Lay Dying, The Devil Wears Prada), ostentatious emo bands (Cobra Starship, The Academy Is…), and counterculture infiltrating major-label operatives (Katy Perry, Charlotte Sometimes). Grown-up punks will be disgusted by the lineup, but that’s kind of the point. The Warped Tour has always been less about nostalgia than simply about giving the kids an overstuffed, reasonably priced bill of music they want to hear—and this year, apparent ly, the kids want to hear meatheads grinding out the heaviest music they can in the name of the Lord.

“Save the Dave” Echo Base Benefit @ The Ring 8 p.m. It’s been nearly three months since the Echo Base Collective was shut down by the Milwaukee Police for various alcohol-related offenses. To help pay down some of the exorbitant legal fees the Echo Base’s founder incurred, The Ring will host a similarly low-key bill of small local and regional acts, this time hopefully devoid of unexpected legal interruption. The peppy chorus-driven punk group Chinese Telephones will appear alongside Minneapolis’ A Paper Cup Band. Also performing; Year of the Scavenger, The Please and Thank Yous, Danny Price and the Loose Change and Sanstereo.

Tiles @ Shank Hall 8 p.m. Arriving hot on the heels the ’90s hard-edged grunge movement, the music of Michigan’s Tiles nod to the days when Alice in Chains and Living Colour put a disguised, proggy spin on modern rock. Though retaining the era’s signature simple, no-nonsense fuzz riffs, Tiles makes a point of branching into far too brief, elaborate polyrhythm. January saw the release of their fourth album, Fly Paper, which, in further homage to their prog roots, boasted an impressive guest guitar spot by Rush’s Alex Lifeson.

Terence Blanchard @ The Third Ward Summer Sizzle, 9 p.m. That Terence Blanchard emerged as a young powerhouse trumpeter in the ’80s might have made him a bigger star had Wynton Marsalis, another New Orleans trumpeter just one year Blanchard’s senior, not already accomplished the same feat. It’s unfair to compare the two too much, however, since Blanchard is far less traditional than Marsalis, more prone to edgier bop and African fusion. Tonight he headlines the first of the Third Ward’s Summer Sizzle’s two-day run. The event also features sets from the Paul Spencer Band, the Bronzeville Quintet, Steve Cole, Streetlife and the Eric Jacobson Quintet.


Terence Blanchard

Saturday, August 2

Revolush w/ Owen Sartori @ Shank Hall, 8 p.m. As a long-standing staple of the local scene, the incorrigible Revolush claimed the title of Milwaukee’s Best Rock Band from Shepherd readers in 2007. Lead singer Tommy Hahn’s Jack Black-circa-School of Rock vocal work and stage presence, coupled with the straight blues-rock riffs of clas sic radio define the band’s retro, ’70s rock-for-the-sake-of-rock sound.

Although they still haven’t quite topped the deliciously over-the-top flamboyance of groups like The Darkness, Revolush are well on their way.

Army of Darkness @ Times Cinema, midnight It’s difficult to think of any movie better suited for the midnight circuit than Army of Darkness, an 80-minute epic for those with short attention spans. Reprising his role from the Evil Dead horror films, Bruce Campbell battles a medieval army of skeletons—some of them imaginatively ani mated, others endearingly low-budget—while rattling off an endless succession of one-liners and quips, which tonight’s crowd will undoubtedly recite with him.

Sunday, August 3

Gospel Gossip w/ Brief Candles @ Borg Ward, 6 p.m. While the Internet hype machine has doubtlessly done much to break deserving bands, its ever-constant rumble has also drowned out plenty of other great bands worthy of the exposure. Case in point: Minneapolis’ Gospel Gossip, a lovely little band with sweet, Juliana Hatfield-esque vocals and a zippy, 1980s jangle that the Internet has largely ignored in favor of a dozen or so other not-quite-buzzworthy bands that share Gospel Gossip’s shoegazing tendencies, but lack the same luster. They per form tonight with Brief Candles, a more traditional shoegaze group whose songs are as apt to thunder and roar as they are twinkle and sigh.

Tuesday, August 5

Vanessa Hudgens w/ Corbin Bleu @ Wisconsin State Fair, 7 p.m. Disney faces a unique challenge: With no magic fountain of youth to keep its stars perpetual teenagers, each live-action Disney franchise arrives with a built-in shelf life. The last thing the Mouse needs is for its Noxzema-fresh starlets to expedite their race to adulthood by posing for nude photographs. Disney can’t completely control what its stars do outside the studio, so perhaps that’s why it overcompensates by having them record most saccharine, childish albums possible. A cornerstone of the High School Musical franchise, Hudgens is now 19 years old and, thanks to some infamous photos, as familiar among adult audiences as tween ones, but she barely sounds 12 years old on her bubbly new album, Identified.

Hudgens sasses Fergie-like over Gwen Stefani electro-pop, rarely touching on matters loftier than dancing, moving and how good it feels to dance and move.

Vienna Teng @ The Miramar Theatre, 7:30 p.m. Borrowing heavily from traditional European influences, the Taiwanese-American singer-songwriter Vienna Teng elegantly incorporates deeply personalized lyrical revelations into strictly subdued piano pieces and, sometimes, densely orchestral string pieces. Blending Tori Amos-esque piano composition with the subdued phonographic quality of Goldfrapp’s Felt Mountain, Teng’s work has all the makings of somber yet satisfyingly grand modern chamber music.

Wednesday, August 6

Gin Blossoms @ Wisconsin State Fair, Cousins Subs Amphitheater, 7 p.m. …And they’re back for some more. At their July Summerfest performance, the Gin Blossoms announced that they came to “kick ass and chew bubblegum—and we’re all out of bubblegum.” Of course, they mustered up plenty of bubblegum regardless, but the subdued alternative-pop group did also manage one genuinely ass-kicking rock-’n’-roll move: Their bassist, apparently inebriated, passed out during the show. The image of an unfazed roadie filling in while the bassist’s collapsed body lay near an amplifier was comical enough for TMZ to pick up the story, but hopefully the joke has run its course. Light as they may be, Gin Blossoms’ good-intentioned songs about bad luck and bad relation ships are smarter and more pointed than they’re often given credit for. The band deserves better than to be dismissed as just another ’90s punch line.

Absentstar @ The Rave, 8 p.m. Currently touring behind 2007’s Sea Trials, produced by Semisonic’s Dan Wilson, the outwardly hard-rock Chicago fivesome Absentstar has become increasingly sentimental these days with songs like “All is Forgotten” and “Half Life,” both of which venture precariously close to the arena anthems of Coldplay, with surprisingly satisfying results. Of course, in concert they still retain their distinctly mature, melodic hard-rock shtick, proving that they haven’t gone entirely soft. Having already played recently to the rain soaked crowds of Summerfest, Absentstar looks to give a more direct, headlining performance at The Rave tonight.

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