May 28 - June 3
This Week in Milwaukee
Thursday, May 28
Roger Clyne and the Peacemakers @ Vnuk’s Lounge, 8:30 p.m.
While the resilient “King of the Hill” probably keeps royalties flowing to Roger Clyne, who penned the show’s theme song with his ’90s country-rock band, The Refreshments, Clyne has spent the last decade touring with his follow-up outfit, the Peacemakers, which have attracted a similarly cultish following with their amiable Americana. Some of the seedier, outlaw country influences have evaporated on recent albums like last year’s Turbo Ocho, but they’ve been replaced by chipper, roots-pop hooks of the sort fellow Arizonans The Gin Blossoms specialize in.
Downtown Dining Week @ Multiple Locations
This year’s Downtown Dining Week features more participating restaurants than ever, 40 of them, up from the usual 30. Among the eateries offering special menus with three-course meals for $10 at lunch and $20 at dinner are Butch’s Old Casino Steak House, Capone’s Grotto, Charro Restaurante, Joey Buona’s, Kil@wat, Milwaukee ChopHouse, Motor, Osteria del Mondo, Sake Tumi, Water Buffalo and Zarletti. The specials run May 28 through June 4; for more information, visit Milwaukeedowntown.com.
Friday, May 29
The Decemberists @ The Riverside Theater, 8 p.m.
There’s no shortage of bands mining the baroque-pop template spelled out by Neutral Milk Hotel, but few of them benefit from songwriting as singular as that of The Decemberists’ Colin Meloy. Though Meloy initially caught attention with his million-dollar vocabulary and nautical-themed songs, he’s since moved beyond pirates to explore more ambitious folklore, including a traditional Japanese tale about a man who marries a shape-shifting bird on their 2006 breakthrough The Crane Wife and, on this year’s The Hazards of Love, which introduced heavier, prog-rock riffs to the band’s palette, an original yarn spun from European folkloric conventions that also involves no shortage of shape-shifting creatures.
Saturday, May 30
Will Phalen and the Stereo Addicts w/ Hayward Williams and Sleeping in the Aviary @ Shank Hall, 8 p.m.
On their second album, Middle West, which they’ll inaugurate tonight with this CD-release show, Milwaukee’s Will Phalen and the Stereo Addicts continue to explore the brighter corners of alternative-country, conjuring the twangy, symphonic tones of Son Volt and Summerteeth-era Wilco, with ample nods to Neil Young’s tear-jerkers. Opener Hayward Williams, a Milwaukee singer-songwriter, has earned comparisons to Ray LaMontagne and Ryan Adams for his beguiling, acoustic Americana, while Madison’s Sleeping in the Aviary breaks from the bill’s roots theme with joyfully sloppy garage-pop that owes nothing to Bob Dylan but plenty to The Clean.
Will Phalen and the Stereo Addicts
Dear Astronaut w/ Partisan, Quest For Fire and Masonry @ The Borg Ward, 8 p.m.
The four Milwaukee bands on this bill vary widely, but all share a common interest in exploring the fringe of psychedelic music. Recalling Akron/Family in their fusion of the earthy and electrical, Dear Astronaut distinguish themselves from other psych-folk bands with doom-laden guitar riffs that lend their loosely structured compositions a dark edge. Partisan prefers a lighter sound that recalls the expansive mess of The Microphones, while Quest For Fire takes the opposite approach, riding crushingly heavy psych-rock riffs. Masonry, meanwhile, plays by the shifty conventions of math-rock but integrates flashy, stoner-rock riffs of the sort more uptight math-rockers deny themselves.
Sunday, May 31
Spinal Tap and A Mighty Wind @ The Riverside Theater, 8 p.m.
After starring in and practically inventing the “mockumentary” genre with one of the most heralded comedy films of all time, the fake hard-rock group Spinal Tap has reunited frequently for projects of varying degrees of funny, blurring the line between parodying washed-up acts and becoming one. Later this year they’ll be reuniting for a new album and a “One Night Only World Tour” in London, but first the actors behind the rockers are performing acoustically and out of costume for their “Unwigged and Unplugged” tour. It remains to be seen how well Spinal Taps’ metal sendups will translate without the amplifiers, but the format allows Michael McKean, Christopher Guest and Harry Shearer to include songs from their other mockumentary-derived band, The Folksmen from A Mighty Wind.
Monday, June 1
Ear Pwr w/ Big Fun 4Ever, Eyes and Unicorn Basement @ The Cactus Club, 9 p.m.
In spite of its deep-set reputation as an urban hellhole, Baltimore is home to one of the sunniest electronic music scenes in the states, and the boy-girl duo Ear Pwr is one of the most chipper, childlike acts in the scene, marked by twee sensibility of the potency typically found only on early K Records releases and Diablo Cody films. “Sophie is my kitty, and I think she’s pretty,” singer Sarah Reynolds coos on a song about her cat (a typical muse). “Sophie loves me,” she chimes. Milwaukee’s Big Fun 4Ever takes a more soulful, less deliberately childish approach to electropop, riding sweet, digital grooves and timeworn adolescent sentiments on their recent single, “Teenage Sensation.”
Tuesday, June 2
Paul Cebar @ Humboldt Park, 6:30 p.m.
Bay View’s popular Chill on the Hill summer concert series returns to the expansive band shell in Humboldt Park this week with a performance from one of the city’s most iconic musicians: Paul Cebar, who is nearly synonymous with Milwaukee (his longtime band was even christened The Milwaukeeans), even though he draws from sounds born far to the south of us, namely the steamy, Cajun-spiked R&B of New Orleans. Chill on the Hill continues every Tuesday through September, with performers including Copper Box, Swing Nouveau, Reilly and De La Buena.