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Wednesday, Nov. 4, 2009

This Week In Milwaukee

J. Tillman, The Exotics, and the Best of Milwaukee

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Friday, Nov. 6

Broken Lizard @ The Pabst Theater, 8 p.m.

The sketch comedy group behind the cult films Super Troopers, Club Dread and Beerfest (as well as, strangely, The Dukes of Hazzard big-screen adaptation), Broken Lizard has been writing and performing together for over 13 years. Comprised of character actors Jay Chandrasekhar, Kevin Heffernan, Steve Lemme, Paul Soter and Erik Stolhanske, the group displays a flair for genre parody and a quick wit that manages to dovetail nicely with their goofier, broader material. In addition to their current national tour of original sketch material, the group is also preparing to release their next feature, The Slammin’ Salmon, about a washed-up boxer in debt to the Japanese mafia, sometime later this year.

Jerry Seinfeld @ The Riverside Theater, 7 and 9:30 p.m.

After wrapping up his eponymous TV show, Jerry Seinfeld so gracefully retreated from the spotlight, emerging only for stand-up tours and understated TV spots here and there, that it seemed almost crass when a grating PR blitz for his animated Bee Movie plastered his face all over America two years ago. Thankfully, his new stand-up routines show that Seinfeld is still the low-key comedian who was so beloved in the ’90s, not the Oprah-mugging mogul who mortgaged his own name to defend his wife’s cookbook. A running joke on “Seinfeld” painted Seinfeld as a standup hack, but recent tours have affirmed him as one of stand-up’s all-time greats.

William Elliott Whitmore w/ John The Savage and Hoots & Hellmouth @ Bay View Brew Haus, 7 p.m.

With a gruff voice that echoes Tom Waits, Iowa-native William Elliott Whitmore delves into the dark crevices of a poor-man’s soul, singing that he ought to burn in hell on his latest album, Animals in the Dark, which doubles as an indictment of America’s political system. Its opening track, “Mutiny,” tells of a drunken captain who’s lost control of his ship, a likely attack on former President George W. Bush. Returning to Milwaukee after an appearance at the Stonefly Brewery in May, Whitmore plays a show tonight at Bay View’s latest watering hole turned music venue, the Bay View Brew Haus.

Spike and Mike’s Sick and Twisted Animation Festival @ The Times Cinema, 11:50 p.m.

Presenting the best in tasteless, violent, crass and just plain extreme animated shorts, Spike and Mike’s Sick and Twisted Animation Festival has been grossing out cartoon fans since 1990, well before the Cartoon Network’s Adult Swim. Founders Craig “Spike” Decker and Mike Gribble’s keen eyes for talent and embrace of outré films landed them the premieres of such future hits as Mike Judge’s “Beavis and Butt-head” and Matt Stone and Trey Parker’s “South Park,” among a host of others. Although Mike passed away in 1994, Spike carries on their tradition, putting together a new touring show every year. Expect 100 minutes of pure, unadulterated shock humor. (Also Saturday, Nov. 7.)

Nicholas Grider: Knock Things Down @ The Marshall Building, 6 p.m.

While the rest of the country debates a way to leave Iraq, local artist Nicholas Grider is plotting a way to go there. Grider wants to embed himself as a free-lance photojournalist, but to do so he’ll need money for equipment, travel and fees—money he hopes to raise with an art installation and fund-raiser in Suite 210 of the Marshall Building this weekend. It’s easy to see Grider’s fascination with war. Much of his work hints at violence, drawing from horror films, heavy-metal music and S&M culture. The exhibit runs through Sunday, and begins with a Friday reception that will feature music from Grider’s band, Middle Distance, and others.

Saturday, Nov. 7

King’s Horses w/ Ampline, Perry and The United Sons of Toil @ Y-Not III, 9 p.m.

Chicago’s iconic Touch and Go Records may have all but shut down earlier this year—blame, as usual, the terrible economy and general woes of the music industry—but if nothing else, the label’s legacy lives on in Milwaukee, where innumerable bands feed on the fierce noise-rock of Touch and Go vets like The Jesus Lizard and Shellac. The Milwaukee trio King’s Horses fits in well enough with Milwaukee’s other noise-rock bands, though their sound is cleaner and less subversive, with more of an emphasis on big guitars and nervy, lovable hooks. The $5 cover at King’s Horses’ EP release party tonight includes a free copy of their EP.


MSTRKRFT w/ La Dolce Vita, Members Only AV and David Boggio @ The Rave, 9 p.m.

The vowel-averse Canadian duo MSTRKRFT pairs former Death From Above 1979 utility player Jesse F. Keeler with Alex Puodziukas, the producer of that group’s beloved only album, 2004’s You’re A Woman, I’m a Machine. Though they tout a similar, hard electro-funk vibe, the duo hasn’t been able to recreate the critical heights of Death From Above—in fact, with this year’s guest-laden Fist of God, they ignited a sharp backlash from critics who dismissed them as robotic, insincere and out of touch. MSTRKRFT has had far better luck working with the material of their peers, though. They’ve become remixers to the stars, retooling recent songs from Metric, Bloc Party, Yeah Yeah Yeahs and Justice.


Saturday, Nov. 7

J. Tillman @ Turner Hall Ballroom, 8 p.m.

If you’re a singer-songwriter looking for a profile boost, there are worse ways to make a name for yourself than joining Fleet Foxes. A late addition to that indie-folk band, joining them on drums shortly after they recorded their breakthrough self-titled album last year, Tillman remains a prolific solo artist. This year he released two well-received discs of Neil Young-esque songwriting and M. Ward-esque exercises in old-time nostalgia, Vacilando Territory Blues and Year in the Kingdom, padding a discography that now includes eight full-length albums released over just four years.

Blue in the Face w/ The Wooldridge Brothers @ Shank Hall, 8 p.m.

The late ’80s and early ’90s was an excellent period for Milwaukee alternative bands. One of the great lost acts from that era, Blue in the Face, featured the concise, melodic, literate and often funny songs of vocalist Mike Benign. The crack, ’60s soul-influenced arrangements featured organ and a trio of horn players for a unique presence in a guitar-dominated scene. Blue in the Face has regrouped for a rare appearance to mark the 20th anniversary of Shank Hall. Opening for them will be another popular local band with origins in those years, The Wooldridge Brothers.

The Exotics @ Café LuLu, 10 p.m.

Spurred in part by the soundtrack to Pulp Fiction, the mid-’90s saw a revival of instrumental surf music. Milwaukee’s leading exponents of the surf revival, The Exotics, became a mainstay on the Midwest circuit, touring nationally, performing with Dick Dale and Los Straitjackets and guesting on “A Prairie Home Companion.” Reformed after a 10-year absence, The Exotics have released a CD of unreleased material from the ’90s called Lost Album. The Texas Chainsaw Massacre

Monday, Nov. 9

Best of Milwaukee 2009 @ The InterContinental Hotel, 6 p.m.

For 19 years, Shepherd Express readers have voted for their favorite restaurants, bars, businesses, places and personalities for the paper’s annual Best of Milwaukee Awards. Tonight the Shepherd hosts its award ceremony to unveil the 2009 winners. The event is open to the public with a $5 donation to the Hunger Task Force, and includes hors d’oeuvres and tastings from restaurants like Kil@wat, Sake Tumi, Milwaukee ChopHouse and Joey Buona’s, as well as a cheesecake spread from Simma’s.

Tuesday, Nov. 10

ZZ Top @ The Potawatami Bingo Casino, 8 p.m.

Although they are probably as well known for their flowing facial hair as for their music, ZZ Top’s stomping, blues-based hard rock is certainly nothing to scoff at. Born of the Houston scene in 1969, the band began racking up serious hits in the 1980s with songs like “Gimme All Your Lovin’,” “Legs” and “Sharp Dressed Man.” In their 40 years together, the trio has put out 20 albums, the latest being 2003’s Chrome, Smoke & BBQ. Last year it was announced that the group would be teaming up with producer Rick Rubin, the man credited with bringing Johnny Cash back to relevancy, although a new record has yet to materialize. Expect tonight’s show to include odes to women, beer, souped-up hot rods and other things ZZ Top holds dear.


White Rabbits w/ Glass Ghost @ Turner Hall Ballroom, 8 p.m.

On their debut album, Fort Nightly, Brooklyn’s White Rabbits differentiated themselves from other New York guitar-rock bands with a vaguely Walkmenish sound by drawing liberally from the sounds of Calypso-styled cabaret.

Those exotic sounds were all but purged, though, for this year’s follow-up, It’s Frightening, a record that bore the unmistakable stamp of its producer, Spoon’s Britt Daniel, who imbues its songs with all the fragmented sounds of recent Spoon albums. It’s a moody, sporadically brilliant record, and it appears to be the band’s breakthrough—its lead single, “Percussion Gun,” has plucked the group from the blogosphere and onto alternative radio.

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