Feb. 5 - Feb. 11
This Week in Milwaukee
The Championship @ The Mitchell Park Domes, 6 p.m.
Though the band mostly plays smoky corner bars, mournful Americana songs about long drives and long nights deserve to be heard outdoors. Tonight’s unusual gig, however, where the group plays as part of the Mitchell Park Domes’ “Music Under Glass” series, is about as close as they’ll get, at least until the summer outdoor concert season kicks in. The horticultural conservatory’s flora-filled landscapes should make a fine backdrop for The Championship’s twanging tributes to early- ’70s AM radio.
Cowboy Mouth w/ Koko Taylor @ Potawatomi Bingo Casino, 7 p.m.
However fleetingly, Cowboy Mouth tasted success in the mid-’90s with their minor hit “Jenny Says,” a rollicking example of the group’s rootsy alt-rock, and also the only one to experience radio exposure beyond college stations. Rather than fall into obscurity, though, the group dedicated itself to the road, building a reputation as a reliable live act with an admirable “any and every venue that will have us” mentality. Tonight they return to the Potawatomi Bingo Casino, a regular stop of theirs, for an unlikely free show they’ll share with Koko Taylor, a powerhouse traditional blues singer who was raised on a Memphis farm before she began working the Chicago blues scene in the 1950s. At 80 years old, her voice remains remarkably strong.
Dust @ UWM Union Theatre, 7 p.m.
The best documentaries can make anything interesting, a premise that German documentarian Hartmut Bitomsky boldly tests with his new film, Dust, about the ubiquitous substance that dirties our houses but also colors our sky and, under certain circumstances, can even kill us. With a poet’s pen and a scientist’s eye for detail, Bitomsky offers a 90-minute examination of the most ordinary subjects ever explored on film, interviewing everyone from an expert on the Dust Bowl to art-restorers who must fight off these microscopic particles without ruining the very pieces they’re trying to preserve.
Pink Floyd LaserSpectacular @ The Riverside Theater, 8 p.m.
Well, at least there’s one niche in the music industry seemingly unscathed by the failing economy: Pink Floyd tribute acts. The cover band Think Floyd rolled through town last month, and March will see a Milwaukee performance from an even-more elaborate group called the Pink Floyd Experience, but first the Riverside Theater hosts one of the very oldest of the Floydsploitation acts this weekend: The Pink Floyd LaserSpectacular. This perennially popular, periodically updated show forgoes live musicians altogether and instead choreographs massive holograms and eye-melting lasers to Floyd’s proggy compositions.
Oscar-Nominated Shorts @ The Times Cinema, 7:30 p.m.
This year’s Academy Award nominations were a bummer for everyone who prefers good old-fashioned entertainment to dramas about the Holocaust. It’s not too surprising that, like the Best Picture nominees, the little-seen nominees for Best Live Action Short Film also tend toward the lofty, telling bleak stories of alienation, moral confliction and religious despair. For the popcorn film lover, though, there is at least one reason to watch the Oscars aside from Heath Ledger’s Supporting Actor nomination: The Animated Short Film category, which this year celebrates five wondrously innovative, jocose stories about love, death and adorable octopi. The Times Cinema screens all the Oscar-nominated animated and live action shorts—with a heaping helping of additional cartoon quickies, including a new one by Bill Plympton - through Feb. 12.
James Cotton & Eddy “The Chief” Clearwater @ Turner Hall Ballroom, 8 p.m.
During the early- to mid-1900s, African Americans fled the racially divided South for Northern cities in what was known as the Great Migration, bringing many Southern influences with them, including the blues. Chicago developed into a hub for the blues, housing greats like Buddy Guy, Bo Diddley and Muddy Waters, as well as accomplished but less-celebrated figures like guitarist Eddy Clearwater, nicknamed “The Chief” because he commonly wears American-Indian headdresses, who brought more of a partyblues aesthetic to the sometimes serious Chicago scene. Tonight Clearwater shares a show with pioneering harmonica player James Cotton, whose half-century career began with a stint in the Muddy Waters Band.
DJ Deadbeat w/ House of M @ Stonefly Brewery, 10 p.m.
Though he hasn’t promoted himself as aggressively as his peers in No Request Sound have, DJ Deadbeat quietly established himself as a pillar of Milwaukee’s rap scene last year, filling in as the new co-host of WMSE’s Tuesday night hip-hop show “Mad Kids,” DJing solo gigs and handling the production for a burgeoning rap collective called the House of M, whose superhero-themed performances made them one of the most talked-about additions to the local rap scene. Tonight Deadbeat does double duty, DJing on his own and performing with the sometimes-costumed MCs in House of M.
House of M
French Horn Rebellion w/ Kid Color @ Points East Pub, 8:30 p.m.
How does Milwaukee’s French Horn Rebellion differentiate itself from the hundreds of other colorful electro-pop bands with an affinity for disco grooves, New Wave hooks and all things falsetto? Well, for one thing, they actually use a French horn, though it takes a back seat to synthesizers, of course. Most promisingly, though, this brother-brother duo has shown a real knack for concise, candied pop hooks, well displayed on their buoyant new single “Up All Night,” which they’ll release in EP form on Feb. 20.
Saturday, Feb. 7
Cheer-Accident w/ Couch Flambeau @ Cactus Club, 10 p.m.
For the better part of three decades, Cheer-Accident has been recording pop music for people who hate pop music: brainy, twisting compositions that twist and turn in the exact opposite direction your ears want them to. It’s unsurprising that a group this unwaveringly subversive never found much of a national fan base, but they certainly left their mark on their native Chicago, where they were integral in shaping the city’s math-rock scene (frequently with the help of producer Steve Albini) and laying the foundation for Windy City post-rock with their jazzy, dizzying time-signature fake-outs. Warming up the stage before Cheer-Accident’s local release show for their new album, Fear Draws Misfortune, is Milwaukee’s iconic Couch Flambeau, fellow ’80s veterans who played really, really silly punk rock well before it was fashionable to play even faintly silly punk rock.
The Optical Delusions @ Turner Hall Ballroom, 8 p.m.
Like burlesque performances, magic and variety shows have benefited from a sudden revival in recent years, as young performers put a modern twist on old-fashioned art forms. Twenty-something Shorewood native Marcus Monroe, for instance, has become a minor television personality by being, of all things, a juggler—albeit an “extreme” one. His perilous contribution to the craft is a knife/torch hybrid he calls “the knorch.” Monroe is one third of a variety troupe called The Optical Delusions, with fellow high-concept buskers Ben Seidman (a likeably nebbish Milwaukee magician who has written for Criss “Mindfreak” Angel but doesn’t share Angel’s sleazeball demeanor), and London’s self-proclaimed mentalist Luke Jermay.