Oct. 9-Oct. 15
This Week in Milwaukee
Thursday, Oct. 9
Southern Culture on the Skids @ Turner Hall Ballroom, 8 p.m.
Though Southern Culture on the Skids sings of mobile homes, box-sized motels, fried chicken and other phenomena mostly associated with the land south of the Mason-Dixon, the band would fit right in with Milwaukee’s punk- and rockabilly-loving music scene. Southern Culture’s latest album, Countrypolitan Favorites, collects 15 rowdy covers of songs best associated with George Jones, Roger Miller, T. Rex and The Kinks, and finds the group as comfortable as ever in its unpretentious, bar-band skin.
Friday, Oct. 10
My Blueberry Nights @ The UWM Union Theatre, 9 p.m.
Throughout the weekend the UWM Union Theatre will be hosting free screenings of three films by Hong Kong director Wong Kar-wai, including his best-known romances In the Mood for Love and 2046, as well as the Milwaukee premiere of his newest film, My Blueberry Nights, the director’s first English-language film. The language may be different, but the themes are the same. Like all Wong Kar-wai films, My Blueberry Nights is filled with heartbreak and beautiful people. Norah Jones—she’s an actress, who knew?—stars as a lovelorn woman on an extended road trip. She’s supported by the pretty faces of Jude Law, Rachel Weisz, Natalie Portman and Chan “Cat Power” Marshall.
Friday the 13th Part III @ The Times Cinema, 11:50 p.m.
Though it doesn’t deviate from the franchise’s formula—teenagers have fun, then get slaughtered—Part III may be the best of the mostly interchangeable Friday the 13th movies. It’s certainly one of the most lively, memorable not only for being the one where increasingly immortal mass-murderer Jason Voorhees discovers his beloved hockey mask, but also for being the only installment filmed in 3-D. Making the most of the (still pretty impressive) technology, the filmmakers miss no opportunities to fling items at the camera every couple of minutes, from projectile machetes to wayward eyeballs. Even the title screen bursts out of the second dimension toward the viewers’ pupils. Midnight movies simply don’t get much better than this.
Fleet Foxes w/ Frank Fairfield @ The Pabst Theater, 8 p.m. Not since the Arcade Fire’s perfect Funeral has a debut album by an indie-rock band been as uniformly lauded as Fleet Foxes’ self-titled debut. Fleet Foxes soak their hazy, Neil Young-ish country-pop songs in buckets of reverb, meaning on paper they’re not much different from other animal-checking indie-rock peers like Band of Horses and Grizzly Bear, but Fleet Foxes are, frankly, better than either of those bands, their harmonies richer, their songs dreamier and more mysterious. Tonight’s Pabst Theater concert, like many on the band’s current tour, is sold out, another sign that in a couple of months the band is destined to dominate 2008’s year-end lists.
Saturday, Oct. 11
Maritime w/ Statehood and Kid, You’ll Move Mountains @ The Stonefly Brewery, 10 p.m.
Emerging proudly from The Promise Ring’s considerable shadow, Milwaukee’s Maritime is riding high from the glowing reception to last year’s Heresy and the Hotel Choir, the band’s slickest, catchiest disc yet. One-time Maritime bassist Eric Axelson—best known for his time with the Dismemberment Plan—is doing pretty all right for himself, too. He’s now playing with Statehood, a D.C. band that doles out the furrow-browed post-hardcore which that city loves so much. Tonight Maritime and Statehood team up for a reunion show of sorts, on a bill that for good measure also includes the superb indie-pop ensemble Kid, You’ll Move Mountains, a chipper yet emotionally charged Illinois group with connections to Milwaukee’s defunct El Oso.
JamFest featuring Lil Boosie, Yung Berg and Hurricane Chris @ U.S. Cellular Arena, 7:30 p.m.
The rappers appearing at V100’s latest JamFest are uniformly shrill, arrogant and odious—traits that all of them have leaned on to turn out some improbably good singles. Louisiana crunk tot Hurricane Chris’ defining single is “A Bay Bay,” a schoolyard chant with a whizzing synth line and a nagging chorus that taunts the listener long after the song ends. The low-budget “A Bay Bay” sounds like it was recorded in the back seat of a Buick compared to co-headline Yung Berg’s high-polish hit “Sexy Lady,” a song that pairs the Chicago Jay-Z wannabe with a Top 40-perfect R&B hook and an unoriginal but effective “Diamonds Are Forever” sample. Thugged-out headliner Lil Boosie lacks Hurricane Chris’ sense of humor or Yung Berg’s polish and poise, and, needless to say, he’s not much for chivalry, either. His latest single, “Bend Over,” tempers his garish persona with a smooth but suggestive chorus that makes Lil Wayne’s “Lollipop” sound like an innocent song about holding hands.
Okobos Music Festival @ The Resch Center, Green Bay, 6 p.m.
Though it’s a bit of a drive from Milwaukee, the Okobos Music Festival in Green Bay has attracted some big-name acts that are skipping Milwaukee on their latest round of tours: Death Cab For Cutie headlines, backed by Ben Folds, Jewel, Ben Harper, Ingrid Michaelson and M. Ward. Think the organizers are going for the college crowd? The festival is held in conjunction with the launch of Okobos, a new line of customizable shoes for the green- and fair-trade-minded set.
Sunday, Oct. 12
ZZ Top w/ Blackberry Smoke @ The Riverside Theater, 8 p.m. While so many classic rock bands lost their way in the 1980s, ZZ Top actually found theirs. Instead of boogieing with just the traditional blues guitars, they boogied with guitars and cutting-edge synthesizers, scoring some of the biggest hits of their career, songs like “Legs” and “Gimme All Your Lovin’.” Those synths turned out to be a blessing and a curse, though, as the band found it hard to evolve beyond the dated, robotic grooves that made them a fortune. Their scattered attempts to kick the keyboards cold turkey inevitably failed, so Rick Rubin, of all people, has volunteered to be the band’s latest sponsor. The enigmatic producer is working on a new ZZ Top album that promises to return the band to their classic, ’70s sound—a promising sign, since returning bands to their classic sounds is what Rubin does best these days.
Tuesday, Oct. 14The Mountain Goats w/ Kaki King @ The Pabst Theater, 8 p.m.
Growing significantly since their beginnings in the early ’90s as a lo-fi folk group that recorded straight into a cassette-tape boom box, The Mountain Goats get sadder and sadder every year. 2005’s The Sunset Tree was an autobiographical account of child abuse—scathingly dedicated to singer-songwriter John Darnielle’s actual stepfather, who Darnielle notes made the album possible—and 2006’s Get Lonely followed a particularly bad breakup. The band’s latest, Heretic Pride, takes a break from the painful autobiographical storytelling of their previous albums to tell some painful stories about fictional characters instead. Opener Kaki King, meanwhile, uses her sepia-toned folk songs as a vehicle for some truly impressive guitar-work.
Wednesday, Oct. 15David Byrne @ The Pabst Theater, 8 p.m.
In 1981 Brian Eno and David Byrne released My Life in the Bush of Ghosts, a wonderful collaborative album that indulged Eno’s ambient, technology-based vision and Byrne’s globe-traveling tendencies. Twenty-seven years later, the two finally found time for a follow-up: Everything That Happens Will Happen Today, which the pair released for digital download, with a free streaming version available online. Eno’s music is as kitchen-sink as it’s ever been, and Byrne’s lyrics are rife with the infectious optimism that’s differentiated his recent solo albums from the spastic musings of his Talking Heads output. Byrne is inaugurating the album with a typically lavish tour with a set list that draws from all of his collaborations with Eno, which include Byrne’s debut solo album, The Catherine Wheel, and the three excellent Talking Heads albums that Eno produced.
K.D. Lang @ The Riverside Theater, 8 p.m.
Without a doubt the most commercially successful, openly gay woman country singer of all time, K.D. Lang long ago stopped limiting her albums to strict country-and-western terrain, gradually moving toward more polished, adult-contemporary production in the ’90s. But with her latest album, Watershed, her first collection of new material in eight years, Lang brings back some of the twang from her ’80s breakthrough records. The album is in many ways a culmination of everything Lang has recorded, pairing the western tones of her early albums with the jazzy, folky aesthetic of her more recent efforts.