Mar. 26 - Apr. 1
This Week in Milwaukee
Thursday, March 26
Brian Regan @ The Riverside Theater, 7:30 p.m.
For a comedian, a Patton Oswalt endorsement is like having Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski tell you he likes the way you play basketball—it means you’re pretty good at what you do. Brian Regan’s observational comedy lives up to the praise Oswalt has given it. At first, Regan seems like a normal comedian, bashing doctors, airports and all the same things that regular comedians joke about, but his humor cuts a little deeper than the normal stand-up. He has a way of making material about even the most conventional targets funny again.
Friday, March 27
Brian Jonestown Massacre w/ Flavor Crystals @ Turner Hall Ballroom, 8 p.m.
The Brian Jonestown Massacre’s Anton Newcombe is psychedelic rock’s answer to The Game, an erratic frontman who runs his mouth off and beefs with any and everyone possible, usually the nearest person to him, which during his concerts is sometimes his own band (which he once broke into a fistfight with on stage) and occasionally the audience (the 2004 documentary DiG! detailed him kicking an audience member in the head). Of course, most Brian Jonestown Massacre shows go without incident, but stories like these have given the band an almost mythical aura in certain rock circles—even though they’ve come at the expense of the greater, major-label success that once seemed like a sure thing for the enigmatic group.
Asleep at the Wheel @ The Cedarburg PAC, 8 p.m.
Since their inception in the ’70s, Austin’s Asleep at the Wheel have been the most devout torch carriers of the Western swing style of country music popularized by the late Bob Wills. Throughout the decades, the ensemble has frequently crossed paths with another famous Wills fan, Willie Nelson, most recently recording this year’s full-length collaboration with Nelson called Willie and the Wheel, which included guests Vince Gill and Paul Shaffer.
Saturday, March 28
Blue Note 7 @ The Wilson Center, 8 p.m.
With a punchy, horn-filled lineup that mirrors those of the classic Blue Note sessions, pianist Bill Charlap leads a septet of players for this tour behind the 70th anniversary of the record label, perhaps the most influential in the history of jazz. With saxophonist Ravi Coltrane, guitarist Peter Bernstein and trumpeter Nicholas Payton, among others, Charlap will cover some of the label’s most familiar standards, including tunes by Thelonious Monk, Wayne Shorter and Herbie Hancock.
Cute is What We Aim For @ The Rave, 7 p.m.
Having already burned through two drummers and two bassists during their whirlwind, 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. A slick, poppy new album, Rotation, suggests they could find an original voice after treading a little too closely to the Fall Out Boy formula, but the September departure of drummer Tom Falcone suggests they still have a few interpersonal kinks to iron out. Sharing this Take Action Tour with the group is Breathe Carolina, Every Avenue and Meg & Dia, a sibling-fronted emo-pop group who by their very nature evoke Tegan and Sara comparisons.
Flight Box @ Milwaukee Art Museum, 6:30 p.m.
Present Music’s latest program revives Kamran Ince’s Flight Box, a piece commissioned for the opening of Santiago Calatrava’s art museum expansion that plays on the aeronautical quality of the architect’s winged design. The bill will also include a half-dozen other pieces that explore similar themes of space and flight, including works by Karen Tanaka and Henry Brant. Attendees will also be invited to make their own paper airplanes before the show, then compete with them in a distance-throwing competition.
Sunday, March 29
Walter Trout @ Shank Hall, 8 p.m.
Booze and drugs defined Walter Trout’s early career as a young blues musician. The former Canned Heat and Bluesbreakers guitarist would have to be on something in order to get the right feeling to perform, but after Carlos Santana gave him a talking to after a gig more than two decades ago, Trout decided to clean himself up. He’s shredded solos with the best: John Lee Hooker, Big Mama Thornton and Joe Tex have all stood by his side—but don’t be fooled, this is a guy who can command the stage by himself.
Tuesday, March 31
Enter the Haggis @ Shank Hall, 8 p.m.
Local promoters are increasingly honing in on two can’t-miss genres that reliably fill up music venues: Irish-rock and jam-music. Toronto’s Enter the Haggis draws a little bit from column A and a little bit from column B, laying down music grounded in the Celtic tradition while fusing bits and pieces of rock, bluegrass, folk, prog, jazz and the occasional dash of ska and reggae.
Cloud Cult w/ Margot and the Nuclear So and So’s @ Turner Hall Ballroom, 7:30 p.m.
Minneapolis’ Cloud Cult shares Eels’ love of quirky, electronic beats and cinematic soundscapes and Beck’s knack for dynamic, flashy live shows. Thematically, much of the group’s music is inspired by the 2002 death of frontman Craig Minowa’s young son—somber subject matter that furthers the Eels comparisons—but their visually loaded concerts feel more like colorful birthday parties than funerals. Openers Margot and the Nuclear So and So’s were unable to agree with Epic Records on a final track listing for their major-label debut, so the album arrives in two incarnations: the small-release Animal!, the band’s preferred version, and the derisively titled Not Animal, the label’s market-tested, mass-release version. Epic’s edit is the more defanged the two, stripping Animal! of its more atmospheric, Radiohead-esque moments, but it’s not like the label painted over a Rembrandt. With its cutesy, paint-by-numbers indie-pop arrangements, Animal! isn’t particularly feral, either.
Wednesday, April 1
Ladytron w/ The Faint and Telepathe @ Turner Hall Ballroom, 8 p.m.
Tonight’s Turner Hall Ballroom concert is one of the rare bills where all three performers could be equal draws. Headliners Ladytron, a burgeoning electro-pop band from Liverpool, are riding some serious nextbig-thing buzz, thanks to a rumored collaboration with Christina Aguilera on her next album. Not to be outdone, though, with their grinding, trance-like synthesizers and Knife-like vocals, Telepathe is riding high from last week’s South by Southwest festival, where they were one of the more in-demand acts. And The Faint? Well, they’ll probably never be the next big thing, but they’ll always be a reliable concert draw. The Omaha synth-rock band, with its shout-outs to New Order and cleverly existential take on dance music’s favorite theme—sex—always put on a sharp show.
The Tallest Man on Earth w/ Red Cortez @ The Pabst Theater, 7 p.m.
How does a scrawny Swede like Kristian Matsson so perfectly capture the Appalachian spirit of bluesmen like Mississippi John Hurt? With a voice so reedy it makes Bob Dylan sound like Pavarotti, Matsson fingerpicked his way through last year’s earthy Shallow Grave, an album that earned him the endorsement from 2008’s breakout star of the indie-folk scene, Bon Iver’s Justin Vernon, who has deemed the artist one of the best he’s ever seen. Tonight’s free Tallest Man on Earth show inaugurates the Pabst Theater’s new No Buck Show series.