This Week in Milwaukee
Thursday, Oct. 22
Lucero w/ Amy LaVere, and Cedric Burnside and Lightnin’ Malcolm @ Turner Hall Ballroom, 8 p.m.
It’s almost a shame to lump in Lucero with all those other alt-country bands, since instead of the passive folk and timid retro-twang that predominate the genre, this Memphis group kicks up an edgier, rockier sound, a fiercer take on The Replacements’ rowdy roots-rock. The group’s new album, 1372 Overton Park, may be their major-label debut, but it finds the band as lovably rough and ramshackle as ever, with singer Ben Nichols singing of working-class love in his signature, whiskey-stained rasp.
Friday, Oct. 23
Kelly Clarkson w/ The Veronicas and Parachute @ Milwaukee Theatre, 8 p.m.
Few people predicted the co-star of From Justin to Kelly would become one of the most important pop singers of the decade, but Kelly Clarkson’s 2004 album Breakaway and its mega-hit single “Since U Been Gone” were unexpected turning points in 2000s pop, proving there was a market for strong, female pop singers with rock sensibilities. It paved the way for pop singers from Katy Perry to Miley Cyrus. Clarkson’s staid 2007 follow-up, My December, became a referendum on the public’s taste for Clarkson’s darker, more serious material, arriving amid a cloud of bad press and the reported disapproval of RCA mogul Clive Davis, but Clarkson’s latest album, All I Ever Wanted, finds a comfortable balance between buoyant pop and bold assertions of independence.
At 25 years and counting, New York City’s The Toasters can safely lay claim to being the longest-running American ska band. They were one of the most instrumental in laying the groundwork for the ’90s third-wave ska revival, with frontman (and lone original member) Rob Hingley running the sadly defunct Moon Ska record label, home to many of the era’s best ska acts. When the ska revival imploded in the late ’90s, The Toasters kept going unphased, ironically staying in style by never changing their style. Since the ’90s they’ve tempered their ska rhythms with healthy doses of classic, Stax-styled R&B and jump-blues, so their records nicely dovetail with the recent retro-soul revival.
Dante’s Bop @ Bay View Brew Haus, 9 p.m.
Long gone are the days when the only thing protecting a band from a drunken, bottle-throwing honky-tonk audience was a chain-link fence, but the Bay View Brew Haus is resurrecting the spirit of that bygone era. Tonight they welcome to their dance hall stage Dante’s Bop, a quartet recently heard on WMSE’s Local/ Live program. The Milwaukee band eschews the slickly produced and countrypolitan sounds of today’s Nashville for a no-frills combo of vintage country, rockabilly and early rock ’n’ roll.
Saturday, Oct. 24
Sleep Tight Co. w/ Fable and the World Flat and Kid, You’ll Move Mountains @ The Cactus Club, 10 p.m.
One of Milwaukee’s prettiest indie-pop bands calls it a night this weekend, when Sleep Tight Co. plays one final show following singer-songwriter Aaron Spransy’s recent move to Boston. As if the night weren’t bittersweet enough, the show will also serve as the release party for the group’s first and last album, We Need a Little Symphony, a collection of violin-kissed tunes that recall Elliott Smith on one of his happier days and concludes with a rousing version of Prince’s “Raspberry Beret.” The album is available for free download at canarycoalmine.com/STC.
350 Part Carnival @ Gordon Park, 12 to 3:50 p.m.
Two years ago, leading climatologists said our planet will face human and natural disaster if atmospheric concentrations of CO2 remain above 350 parts per million. Right now, we’re at 390 parts per million. The 350.org campaign is dedicated to lowering that number by pressuring world leaders to enact real solutions to the climate crisis at the December climate summit in Copenhagen, Denmark. The 350 Part Carnival, which offers activities like bicycle tuneups and kid-friendly games, is one of more than 2,000 “actions” in over 150 countries that will take place today.
An Evening With Ira Glass: Radio Stories and Other Stories @ The UWM Union Wisconsin Room, 7 p.m.
Each week, more than 1.7 million listeners tune in to hear National Public Radio’s This American Life, a pioneering program with stories that walk the line between straight journalism and emotive storytelling. Although the show has a rotating roster of contributors, including John Hodgman, Chuck Klosterman and David Sedaris, the one constant is the unassuming, sympathetic voice of host (as well as executive producer and co-creator) Ira Glass. The Peabody Award-winning show made the jump to television in 2007, running for two seasons on Showtime before the hectic schedule of television production led to a renewed focus on radio. Tonight, Mr. Glass appears as part of UWM’s “Distinguished Lecture Series,” sharing stories from the creation of the show, which he’ll bring to life with music and snippets of audio.