Mar. 19 - Mar. 25
This Week in Milwaukee
Thursday, March 19
Ben Folds w/ Jukebox the Ghost @ The Rave, 8 p.m.
With the Ben Folds Five abortion ballad “Brick,” Ben Folds scored his first major hit, a baleful departure from his usual goofball piano romps. Ben Folds’ solo career has swung back and forth between “Brick”-like confessionals and up-tempo, irreverent silliness. For 2005’s Songs for Silverman, for instance, Folds channeled his inner Elliott Smith, but his latest album, Way to Normal, evokes “Weird Al” Yankovic in its light tone and eagerness to please. Like Elton John, Billy Joel and the other great piano men before him, Folds wants to have it both ways, balladeering and bringing the crowd to its feet.
The Scarring Party @ The Mitchell Park Domes, 6:30 p.m.
Somebody in the parks department has a great sense of humor. Why else would they book one of the city’s most morose bands to play in the brightly lit, flora-filled halls of the city’s horticultural conservatory? The latest headliner in the Domes’ concert series is The Scarring Party, a Milwaukee band that sings of zombies, death, hell and existential dread with the warbling instruments of oldtime jazz: banjo, accordion and tuba. Despite their preferred subject matter, the group has a playful demeanor that should come in handy for tonight’s show.
Friday, March 20
Heathrow @ The Cactus Club, 10 p.m.
Borrowing shimmering, feel-good rhythms from The Psychedelic Furs, Echo and the Bunnymen and pretty much every other band that represents the prettier side of the Britpop spectrum, Heathrow are unrepentant anglophiles—there’s a reason they’re named for the iconic London airport instead of, say, General Mitchell International (though that would make a great name for a ska band). Last year saw the release of Heathrow’s second album, World Opinion Is With Us, another collection of melancholic guitar-pop perfect for a Sunday drive.
Rain: A Tribute to the Beatles @ The Milwaukee Theatre, 8 p.m.
Thirty years later, London Calling’s memorable declaration about phony Beatlemania is still being proved wrong. The Beatles brand is endlessly stamped on every form of memorabilia imaginable, from T-shirts and toys to board games and video games and this Cirque du Soleil show, which combines the circus troupe’s trademark visual overload with a mash-up of arguably the most beloved—and most exploited—songbook in the history of music. Rain charts the trajectory of the Fab Four’s career, from their uptight, black-suit beginnings to their flower-power Sgt. Pepper’s Band uniforms and their infamous walk across Abbey Road.
Les Claypool w/ DeVotchKa and Saul Williams @ The Rave, 7 p.m.
Les Claypool’s lightning-fast slap-bass work endeared him to metalheads and alternativerock kids of the ’90s before a new generation of tie-dyed youths invited him into the jam circuit, where his technical prowess and acid-induced lyrics quickly made him a star. The sometimes Primus leader’s goofy lyrics, however, belie some surprisingly lofty themes, parables about drug abuse, politics and conformity disguised as inconsequential ditties about animals and fishermen. This odd bill pairs Claypool with DeVotchKa and Saul Williams. DeVotchKa is a chirpy Colorado band that merges the spastic groove of late- ’70s Talking Heads with the orchestral sweep of Arcade Fire’s more grandiose work, and a kitchen sink that includes sousaphone, an accordion, a piano, a violin, a bouzouki, an upright bass and a Theremin. Williams, meanwhile, is the spoken-word poet who with Trent Reznor recorded The Inevitable Rise and Liberation of Niggy Tardust, a tuneless and furious song cycle bound to make tonight’s predominantly white audience very, very uncomfortable.
MAM After Dark @ Milwaukee Art Museum, 5 p.m.
Thanks to a long-overdue daylight-saving switch, the Milwaukee Art Museum’s new monthly MAM After Dark mixer actually begins a little before dark this time. Showcasing young local talent, the art museum’s latest countdown to midnight features MIAD freshmen and established Milwaukee-area artists in the evening’s spotlight showcase. The event, titled “Fountain of Youth,” aspires to grow the city’s artistic talent—coincidentally or not, the gathering falls on the first day of spring, a season for rebirth. The night also kicks off a Paul Newman weekend film fest, starting with his early movies Somebody Up There Likes Me and Cat on a Hot Tin Roof.
Saturday, March 21
King Solomon @ Milwaukee Ale House, 10 p.m.
After 10 years of gigging, King Solomon bills itself as “Milwaukee’s Premier Reggae Band.” They may have some competition, but with their fluid rocksteady grooves, they’re certainly in the top seed.
Sunday, March 22
The Milwaukee Admirals w/ Darius Rucker @ The Bradley Center, 4 p.m.
With his merry demeanor, Darius Rucker is more television personality than rock star, but that’s much of his charm. Love them or hate them, his exaggerated, from-the-belly croons were the reason for Hootie and the Blowfish’s crazy success in the ’90s, but he’s toned them down for his unlikely solo career—as a country artist. His single “Don’t Think I Don’t Think About It” topped the Billboard Hot Country chart, making him the most successful black country singer in decades—which is remarkable, even though the genre has never really been a factory for black artists. Rucker performs tonight after the Admirals/Bulldogs game.
Tuesday, March 24
Joanie 4 Jackie @ UWM Union Theatre, 7 p.m.
In 1995, feminist filmmaker Miranda July innovatively conceptualized a new way of reaching and collaborating with women nationwide. She created a chain-letter video subscription, having women send in their low-quality DIY videos and in return receive a compilation with their tape and nine other women’s. A free screening tonight as part of the ongoing Women Without Borders film series showcases 10 of these DIY films, including one by July and Shauna McGarry—a documentary about the project. McGarry will serve as the night’s curator.
Wednesday, March 25
The Death Set @ Cactus Club, 9 p.m.
Aussie punk rockers The Death Set probably aren’t all that fond of Wisconsin. While traveling in a tour van tricked out with Spanish graffiti that said, “Yo, I got guns,” the band was pulled over in rural Wisconsin and confronted by troopers with assault rifles who mistook them for a gang, frontman Johnny Siera told the Chicago Tribune. Everything was sorted out, and they still made their gig later that night. The group’s 2008 debut Worldwide ambitiously leaps through 18 songs in 25 minutes, fusing fast-paced rap and punk. Tonight they’ll play backed by Juiceboxxx, Totally Michael, Ninjasonik, Team Robespierre and Cerebral Ballzy—meaning there’s no way they’re taking the stage before midnight.