Nov. 13 - Nov. 19
This Week in Milwaukee
The Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra’s long-running Symphony Style, perhaps the most exclusive and decadent of Milwaukee’s fashion events, has previously showcased the designs of top names like Vera Wang, Zang Toi and Oscar de la Renta. Tonight’s gathering puts the spotlight on Peggy Jennings, a Florida designer who remained mostly out of the public eye until Laura Bush began singing her praises in 2004. Jenning’s luxurious silk and cashmere wares can now be found in some of the most upscale, prestigious stores in the country, including Saks Fifth Avenue and Neiman Marcus, meaning they’d likely be right up the alley of a certain former vice presidential candidate.
Steve Mackay and the Radon Ensemble, Sikhara, The Danglers and IROCK Z @ Club Garibaldi’s, 9 p.m.
By the year 2000, rock saxophonist Steve Mackay’s profile had dropped so low that music historians had written him off as dead. In 1970 Mackay emerged as an enigma when he briefly joined Iggy Pop and The Stooges to record and tour behind their Fun House album. Although he’s recorded sporadically in the following decades (including with Milwaukee’s Violent Femmes), it wasn’t until he joined The Stooges’ 2003 reunion that the cult figure earned a critical reappraisal (or, at the very least, an acknowledgement that he was in fact alive). It turns out that since the late-’90s, Mackay has been playing with a noisy, ever-shifting experimental outfit called the Radon Ensemble, which he’ll perform with tonight as part of a bill arranged by and featuring Milwaukee’s violin-wielding prog-punks, The Danglers.
The Radiators w/ SLM @ Miramar Theatre, 9 p.m.
Part of an earlier breed of party bands, The Radiators presaged the current jamband movement with their knack for distilling multiple, groove-based styles into their genre-hopping live shows. The Radiators are prone to all sorts of up-tempo, danceable tangents, but the true heart of the now-30-year-old group has always been the swampy, New Orleans “fish-head music” scene, as they call it, a style that pairs Delta roots music and the sounds of New Orleans with the ripping lead guitars of classic rock. Like the younger jam bands they inspired, these guys love to stretch out a good, classic cover song.
Saturday, Nov. 15Young Widows w/ Suicide Note, City of Ships, Gabriel Hunter and Mike M. @ The Borg Ward, 7 p.m.
Another in a small but growing movement of bands too young to remember the Big Black/Jesus Lizard school of noise-rock firsthand, but eager to recreate it, the Louisville, Ky., trio Young Widows toned down some of the playfulness of their first album for this fall’s follow-up, Old Wounds. The result is an austere record, as stern as Fugazi and as heavy as The Melvins, with few flourishes to break the disc’s ferocious spell.
Southbound @ Shank Hall, 9 p.m.
Seasoned country-rockers Southbound created an unlikely Milwaukee tradition a couple of years ago when they hosted their first all-Allman Brothers tribute show at Shank Hall. The group, which takes their name from an Allman Brothers tune, had long slipped the occasional Allman song into its sets, but these themed shows proved particularly popular. Their third-annual tribute show tonight will cover the first two Allman albums, including 1970’s Idlewild South, as well as an assortment of favorites and rarities. Boney Fingers opens, fittingly, with an all-Grateful Dead set. [It’s a good week for Allman Brothers fans, incidentally. On Thursday, Nov. 13, the jammy Allman Brothers side project Gov’t Mule will perform at the Rave.]
Masaki Kobayashi’s Human Condition trilogy, based in part on the director’s own resentment at having been forced to fight for the Japanese army in World War II, has been described by a handful of critics as the finest film ever made, but it’s no small time commitment. This three-part film lasts nearly 10 hours, so it’s rare that a theater rises to the challenge of screening it in its entirety, as the UWM Union Theatre does over the next several weeks, beginning with two showings this weekend of its first installment, No Greater Love. The movie introduces protagonist Kaji, a kind, idealistic newlywed who, over the next three films, will be beaten, abused and humiliated by war and the country for which he unwillingly goes to war. (Also Nov. 16, 5 p.m.)
Monday, Nov. 17Dolly Parton @ The Riverside Theater, 8 p.m.
There was perhaps no greater casualty of the 1990s commercialization of country radio than Dolly Parton. In spite of her two decades of hits, the starlet suddenly found herself all but blacklisted from the radio airwaves because of her age. Of course, with her trademark resilience, Parton found ways to make do. Without abandoning her ditzy, lovable, big-breasted image, she went underground, so to speak, playing to the growing market for traditional country and bluegrass. This year she finally cashed in all that stockpiled good will and returned with Backwoods Barbie, her first mainstream country record in 17 years, which she promoted with an “American Idol” appearance and a grand tour. When back problems postponed that tour this spring, the ever-smiling singer was the first to joke about the obvious causes of her back pains.
Tuesday, Nov. 18
Greg Laswell w/ Jenny Owen Youngs @ Shank Hall, 8 p.m.
Jenny Owen Youngs’ familiar brand of sighing alternative-pop has earned her tour dates with like-minded singer-songwriters Aimee Mann and Vienna Teng—as well as some royalties from the Showtime series “Weeds”—but if anything, Youngs’ plucky demeanor most recalls Ben Folds. Like Folds in his prime, the magnetic Youngs blends sentimentality with rabble-rousing silliness, cutting her saddest songs with bursts of profanity. In the hands of most singers, a Lilith Fair cover of Nelly’s “Hot In Herre” would be overly jokey, but Youngs makes hers work, creating a wistful new melody for the song’s ridiculous chorus. She opens tonight for everyman troubadour Greg Laswell.
Disappears @ Cactus Club, 9 p.m.
Brian Case already claims ties to two fine Chicago indie-rock bands, the mostly retired 90 Day Men and the far more active The Ponys, but he makes a push for three with his latest band, Disappears. This new group doesn’t aim to sweep you off your feet the way 90 Day Men’s cascading pianos did, or for that matter knock you on your ass the way The Ponys’ hard-hitting alterna-rock does. Rather it opts for a slow and steady approach, eroding the listener with hazy guitars, druggy Velvet Underground riffs and more than a little of The Fall’s trademark “repe-tition.”
Wednesday, Nov. 19Cute Is What We Aim For w/ Secondhand Serenade @ The Rave, 7:30 p.m.
Having already burned through two drummers and two bassists during their short, three-year tenure, Cute Is What We Aim For have endured enough reported personal conflicts to drive a season of “The Hills”—which is appropriate, since this young emo group shares much the same target demo as that MTV reality drama. No doubt their early success is to blame for some of their instability; after being signed to the powerful Fueled By Ramen label, the group became stars while they were still teenagers. After a debut album that was more than a little afflicted by a fever that couldn’t be sweated out, they began to find a more original voice with their slick, poppy new album, Rotation. But the September departure of drummer Tom Falcone suggests they still have a few interpersonal kinks to iron out.