July 9 - July 15
Thursday, July 9
2009 ComedySportz World Championship @ ComedySportz, 7 p.m.
It sounds like the setup to a bad joke—and no doubt it will prompt a few—but this afternoon at 1 p.m. a Buddhist priest, a Catholic priest and a rabbi will all be on hand to bless a ceremony by the veteran Milwaukee improv-comedy institution ComedySportz. They’ll be joined by Mayor Tom Barrett, who has deemed July 9 ComedySportz Day in cel- ebration of the troupe’s 25th anniversary. The event will launch a weekend of competitive sketch comedy, with 20 ComedySportz troupes from all over the world (including one from Manchester, England) attempting to out-funny each other in the 2009 ComedySportz World Championship starting tonight at 7 p.m. Four to six sets of teams battle each other every day, leading up to a final championship match on Saturday at 10:15 p.m. Milwaukee’s first match is tonight at 9 p.m., when they face Chicago, so come ensure the team enjoys their rightful hometown advantage.
Jonas Brothers @ The Bradley Center, 7 p.m.
The Jonas Brothers are, depending on your disposition, a trio of evangelical Christian moppets who preach abstinence while marketing sex to children and shooting white foam over their audiences in a blatant manifestation of subliminal urges, or—for those less prone to sensational Freudian analysis, conspiracy theories and repurposed “South Park” arguments—just a better-than-average tween-pop band with Beatles-esque songs that even parents can enjoy. However you choose to view them, remember that pop culture has a way of baiting virginal teen pop stars, holding them to harsh standards and then celebrating their inevitable corruption—it happened with Britney Spears, it’s happening with the Jonas’ Disney Corp. cohort Miley Cyrus, and plenty are waiting for it to happen to the Jonas Brothers. That this harmless group has so far succeeded in keeping their personal lives as squeaky clean as their songs isn’t something that should be held against them.
Bastille Days @ Cathedral Square Park, 11 a.m.
Bastille Days, the annual festival that transforms Downtown’s Cathedral Square Park into a Parisian paradise for four days, will feature some new attractions this year. Coinciding with traditional festival staples, like the French mass, the Storming of the Bastille and the Consuming of the Fried Dough, will be new activities including a puppy parade featuring costumed dogs, a French cheese seminar and a kissing contest, where the longest lip lockers win prizes. A special installment of the Jazz in the Park concert series featuring Swing Nouveau and Nabori closes the festival Sunday night.
Friday, July 10
South Shore Frolics @ South Shore Park
South Shore Frolics, one of Milwaukee’s oldest summer celebrations, marks its 60th year this weekend. Though it isn’t as high-concept as the competing Bastille Days celebration Downtown, this three-day South Shore Park gathering is the more family-focused option, with a series of events geared toward both little ones and their grandparents, including doo-wop music, a Friday fish fry and screening of Hotel For Dogs, a large Saturday parade, and a Sunday classic car show, as well as the usual games and snacks. For those who didn’t get their fix last weekend, there are also nightly fireworks.
Tom Jones @ The Riverside Theater, 8 p.m.
It’s not the type of moment that brings Emmy voters to tears, but by the standards of “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air,” it was pretty touching: In the final episode, Will Smith joins Carlton in dancing to his nerdy cousin’s favorite song, Tom Jones’ “It’s Not Unusual,” closing one of the series’ longest-running gags. The joke, as it turns out, isn’t that Carlton likes Tom Jones, it’s that everyone secretly likes Tom Jones, even an ambassador of cool like Will Smith. And what’s not to like? Jones’ swinging, hypersexual lounge pop has resonated for more than four decades, with the singer’s popularity culminating in an unexpected 1999 smash album Reload, the most successful of his career. At 69 years old, Jones has stayed up to date with contemporary music, most recently recording last year’s 24 Hours with the Lily Allen and Estelle production team Future Cut.
Saturday, July 11
Fountains of Wayne w/ Jon Auer @ Turner Hall Ballroom, 8 p.m.
Depending on your viewpoint, Fountains of Wayne is either the masterful Massachusetts power-pop group that’s carried the genre’s torch into the new millennium, or the band that sings that awful, pandering “Stacy’s Mom” song, which helped fuel the tiresome MILF and cougar jokes we’re now inundated with daily. In truth, they’re both. Tonight they’ll also be something else: an acoustic ensemble. Boldly, the group has decided to unplug for what they’re billing as a “full-band acoustic tour,” so it should be exciting to see how—or if—their electric power-pop makes the transition. The band finds fitting support in opener Jon Auer, one half of the songwriting team from the best power-pop band of the 1990s, The Posies, whose one-time drummer Brian Young now plays with Fountains of Wayne.
Dieselboy @ Three, 9 p.m.
Arguably no one has been a more recognizable figure in the American drum and bass scene in the last 15 years than Dieselboy, who’s found tremendous commercial success since he first introduced himself with his now-legendary 1994 mixtape, The Future Sound of Hardcore. Validated by the British in 2004 when he became the first American to be voted into the U.K.-based Drum & Bass Arena Top 10 DJs Poll, and again in 2007 when he shared the decks with genre legend Goldie, Dieselboy continues to pioneer the drum and bass movement by showcasing new talent from his HUMAN Imprint label, along with a steady stream of his own new material and remixes.
Sunday, July 12
The Great Circus Parade @ Downtown, 1:30 p.m.
After a six-year-hiatus due to budget shortfalls, The Great Circus Parade makes a grand (though temporary) return to the streets of Milwaukee today. Second in size only to the Rose Bowl Parade and Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, this $1.5 million event marks the 50th anniversary of the Circus World Museum in Baraboo, Wis. Rolling out this year will be 52 historic circus wagons built in the late 18th century, pulled by an estimated 300 horses of various breeds, along with 10 marching bands and 14 bandwagon bands. The parade is set to march west down Wisconsin Avenue before it rolls through some of Downtown’s main thoroughfares to wind up on Michigan Street.
Monday, July 13
Candlebox @ The Rave, 8 p.m.
If somehow you were unable to get your fill of ’90s-era “guilty pleasure” rock acts during this year’s Summerfest, there’s no need to worry: The Rave lined up another one for you tonight. Wailing rockers Candlebox, who followed Seattle predecessors like Soundgarden and Pearl Jam in branding their angsty hard-rock under the more fashionable “grunge” moniker but fell apart after years of inter-band turmoil and mismanagement, returned last year for their first album in a decade, 2008’s Into the Sun, a collection of serviceable throwbacks to their 1994 hits “Far Behind,” “You” and “Cover Me.”
Tuesday, July 14
George Clinton and Parliament/Funkadelic @ The Rave, 8 p.m.
George Clinton now tours with a band billed as Parliament/Funkadelic, giving the funk pioneer free reign to cull hits from both of his best-known ensembles (Parliament was the one that recorded “Flash Light,” for instance, while Funkadelic was responsible for “One Nation Under a Groove”). Recent Clinton concerts have featured the usual assortment of odd characters (a Pink Pimp, a diaper-clad guitarist, etc.), and although the 67-year-old ringmaster doesn’t spend as much time on stage as he used to—he disappears when you aren’t paying attention—Clinton’s band throws down long sets of thick, free-form funk, often with a heavy, acid-rock vibe that casual listeners might not anticipate.
Merle Haggard w/ Loretta Lynn @ Potawatomi Bingo Casino, 8 p.m.
Merle Haggard was integral in popularizing some of country’s most memorable movements, from the rugged, electric Bakersfield sound to the outlaw country aesthetic and later the Western-swing revival. His true legacy, though, is his songwriting. Like so many of the genre’s greats, his canon is marked by conflicted patriotism and fluid politics. His signature song, “Okie from Muskogee,” is either a loving tribute to or a scathing indictment of conservative values, depending on the performance, and his turn-of-the-century output has documented his ever-firming opposition to the war in Iraq in real time. Haggard plays tonight with his 10-piece band, The Strangers, and opener Loretta Lynn, the 70-something “Coal Miner’s Daughter” singer who this year hopes to release a follow-up to the acclaimed 2004 album Van Lear Rose, which she recorded with Jack White. (Also Wednesday, July 15.)