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Wednesday, June 3, 2009

June 4 - June 10

This Week in Milwaukee

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Thursday, June 4

Jazz in the Park w/ Bonifas Quintet @ Cathedral Square Park, 6:30 p.m.
Though Milwaukee wasn’t able to sustain a jazz radio station, the Jazz in the Park concert series remains one of the city’s most popular summertime traditions, drawing huge crowds of genre enthusiasts alongside sun-soaking picnickers seemingly oblivious to the live music. As the event has grown in size, organizers have repealed the carry-in beverage policy that helped make the event so popular, but abundant alcohol is still available from sanctioned stands. Tonight’s headliner is one of the most traditional jazz acts on this year’s roster: guitarist Bill Bonifas’ Bonifas Quintet, which builds on the hardbop of Wes Montgomery and Grant Green.

Friday, June 5

RiverSplash! @ Pere Marquette Park
The first of Milwaukee’s many free, weekend-long bacchanals, RiverSplash! commences the summer festival season with three days of music, fireworks, junk food and large plastic cups of beer and other luxuries Milwaukeeans will learn to take for granted over the next three months. Among the musical acts performing through Sunday are Poi Dog Pondering, Greg Koch, Nation Sack and the ubiquitous Pat McCurdy.

St. Vincent @ The Pabst Theater, 8 p.m.
After beefing up her credentials through time on the road with Polyphonic Spree and Sufjan Stevens, two acts whose expansive arrangements she doubtlessly studied, Annie Clark went solo as St. Vincent in 2007, releasing Marry Me, a chilly album coated by layers of baroque pop, classical flourishes and mannered quirk. Clark’s 2009 follow-up, Actor, is even more striking, resurrecting the frilly woodwinds and whimsical sounds of old Disney records, but using them in the service of a cycle of songs nearly as bleak as Lou Reed’s Berlin. That the ladylike performer sings songs of such desolation with an unnatural, finishing-school poise only makes them that much more unsettling.

Port Washington Pirate Festival @ Rotary Park
Perhaps your only chance to cruise on a 150-foot, four-masted schooner whilst it’s under siege by pirates (or whilst it’s not, depending on which cruise you sign up for), one of Port Washington’s oddest traditions, the Port Washington Pirate Festival, returns for its fifth year. In addition to cruises there will be a buccaneer bash, historical displays and a pirate-themed parade. Don’t own an eye-patch? You can find one, along with other items, at the thieves’ marketplace. Hungry? Fill your belly in the “Gruel Galley.” Admission is free, though some events, like those cruises, cost extra. (Through Sunday, June 7.)

Saturday, June 6

 The Crystal Method w/ L.A. Riots @ The Rave, 9 p.m.
The Crystal Method’s debut album, 1997’s Vegas, made an impression among both longtime electronic-music junkies and newbies alike, even capturing the hearts of die-hard rock ’n’ roll fans. Featuring the sounds of a Clavia Nord Lead synthesizer, samples from Bill Cosby’s stand-up comedy and even answering-machine messages, the album brought the emerging big-beat movement of electronic music into the American limelight. As the era of the superstar DJ came and went, the duo of Ken Jordan and Scott Kirkland adapted by playing smaller, club gigs, but this latest tour in support of their new record, Divided By Night, returns them to the live-band setup of their salad days.


The Crystal Method

The Moth @ Turner Hall Ballroom, 8 p.m.
A sort of poetry slam without poetry—or, for that matter, slamming—The Moth was conceived in 1997 as an evening of storytelling, with each performer recounting a 10-minute autobiographical yarn, sans notes. Celebrities like Moby and Ethan Hawke participated along with everymen in the “This American Life” vein before touring versions of The Moth spun off several years ago. Hosted by New Yorker humorist Andy Borowitz, the Milwaukee edition will feature stories from Chris Farley’s brother Tom Farley, Milwaukee community organizer Claire Moore and several veteran Moth-ers from New York.

Sunday, June 7

Luka Bloom @ Shank Hall, 8 p.m.
Years of heated guitar playing took their toll on Irish folk-rock singer Luka Bloom. By the turn of the century, his hands had grown weak from tendinitis. Bloom adapted to the condition industriously, however, and though his records lost the raw, sometimes wild edge that made him a favorite of the early-’90s New York folk scene, they gained a newfound elegance and economy. Bloom’s latest is last year’sEleven Songs, a collection of simple folk tunes shaded with subtle choral and orchestral touches where his songs of yore might have relied instead on Bloom’s furious, rock ’n’ roll intensity.

 

Monday, June 8

Fleetwood Mac @ Bradley Center, 8 p.m.
Where bands like the Rolling Stones can be counted on to keep touring until the Grim Reaper himself sucks every last ounce of life from their withered bodies, other classic-rock reunions aren’t nearly as certain. Fleetwood Mac, for instance, has long been marked by inner-band tension—indeed, their best work, like their 1977 classic Rumours, was born of it—which has made their sporadic reunions feel like genuine events. In the past two decades, the band’s classic (or semi-classic) lineup with Lindsey Buckingham and Stevie Nicks has only recorded two albums together, and though the group had hoped to work out some new material last year, nothing resulted from their studio sessions. That makes this tour a true greatest-hits tour, which most Fleetwood Mac fans are probably all right with at this point.

Grizzly Bear w/ Here We Go Magic @ The Pabst Theater, 8 p.m.
Recalling, almost, the chorus of accolades and dropped jaws that greeted Animal Collective’s Merriweather Post Pavilion this January, Grizzly Bear released their latest album, Veckatimest, to nearly unanimous cries of greatness last month. Though both albums flaunt a debt to the Beach Boys and strikingly ambitious scopes, Veckatimest doesn’t share Merriweather Post Pavilion’s outsider ambitions. Instead, it’s a more traditional, inclusive album that celebrates American music in its own tongue, with gentle, waltzing folk numbers kissed by jazz and psychedelia. At a time when plenty of folkleaning indie-rockers are exploring their symphonic sides, few have been able to create anything quite as natural, quite as majestic as Grizzly Bear’s latest.


Wednesday, June 10

Starlight Mints w/ Evangelicals @ Turner Hall Ballroom, 8 p.m.
Emerging shortly after Neutral Milk Hotel and the Elephant 6 collective introduced a new generation of indie-rockers to chamber-pop, Oklahoma’s Starlight Mints compose sun-soaked pop music cluttered with strings, brass and literal bells and whistles. They’ll play tonight behind their upcoming fourth album, Change Remains, backed by Evangelicals, another Oklahoma ensemble that’s earned plenty of comparisons to The Flaming Lips. Evangelicals create an acid-fried pastiche of noise, drawing from cheap movie sound effects, countless rhythmic layers and a bevy of studio clatter and effects. Unlike recent starry-eyed Lips efforts, Evangelicals’ songs sometimes veer toward the more claustrophobic, nightmarish end of the spectrum, though frontman Josh Jones’ innocent falsetto keeps the mood from becoming too dark.