This Week in Milwaukee
International Pop Overthrow, Vicktory to the Underdog, Norm MacDonald and Smoking Popes
Thursday, May 6
Los Angeles promoter David Bash founded his International Pop Overthrow festival in 1998 to showcase bands performing in the loosely defined power-pop tradition—pretty much any group playing melodic, guitar-based rock qualifies—and has since established satellite Pop Overthrow festivals around the world, including one in Milwaukee that is celebrating its third year at Linneman’s. For four days through Sunday, May 9, the venue will host area bands of all shapes, sizes and statures, on bills that pair established and veteran bands like The LoveMonkeys, The Nice Outfit, The Mike Benign Compulsion and Dairyland Youth with younger guitar-pop enthusiasts like The Reckless Hearts, Elusive Parallelograms and Arkady.
Each day offers a handful of bands for just $8. For the complete schedule, visit www.linnemans.com.
Katie Todd Band w/ Kristin Cotts @ Shank Hall, 8 p.m.
Steady gigging has helped earn Chicago singer-songwriter Katie Todd a loyal regional following— though her fortuitous placement as one of iTunes’ artists of the week certainly didn’t hurt, either. With the site’s endorsement, Todd clocked more than 300,000 downloads for her single “Face Down.” The guitarist/pianist’s latest album is last year’s Mumbled Speech, a plucky collection of “Grey’s Anatomy”-ready folk-pop that suggests Ani DiFranco and Fiona Apple without the intense emotional baggage those songwriters sometimes bring.Vicktory to the Underdog @ Times Cinema, 7 p.m.
Inked-up Brandon Bond is the focus of Vicktory to the Underdog, a documentary about Bond’s rescue efforts for fighting dogs, including his high-profile rescue of Michael Vick’s infamous pit bulls. Bond’s primary fame comes from being an award-winning tattoo artist in Atlanta, with his thriving All or Nothing Tattoo parlor and a tattoo-related publishing company, but he remains involved in his All or Nothing Pitbull Rescue organization, which saves and rehabilitates fighting dogs, preparing them for adoption. The film, which makes its Milwaukee premiere tonight with a one-off showing, focuses on Bond’s pursuit to help animals while balancing his tattoo-artist stardom and lifestyle.
Friday, May 7Norm MacDonald @ The Pabst Theater, 8 p.m.
Defying the timeworn archetype of the cigar-chomping, loudmouthed insult comedian, Norm MacDonald delivers his pointed barbs from behind a veneer of amiable aloofness, allowing him to feign innocence even after the most incendiary barbs. As the best of the fake news anchors on “Saturday Night Live,” he eschewed innuendo and went for the throat. Where other comedians spoke of Michael Jackson in double-entendres, for instance, MacDonald simply called him “a homosexual pedophile.” Given the chance to play conventional insult comedian at a recent Bob Saget roast, MacDonald instead rebelled with a brilliant piece of performance art, delivering not the requisite, X-rated screeds but instead gentle, family-friendly jabs. The bit elicited only the sparsest applause from Norm MacDonald a celebrity audience completely unable to grasp the joke.
“This Time Tomorrow” Benefit Concert @ The Pfister Hotel, 7 p.m.
Tonight the Pfister Hotel hosts a particularly ambitious benefit concert for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, presenting 15 area bands on two stages. Performers include Bascom Hill, The Felix Culpa, The Celebrated Workingman, The Boogie Men, Hayward Williams, Marc Ballini, The Jeanna Salzer Band, Rhonda Begos, Joe Hite, Dan Oberbruner, Mark Hubing, ZyFy, Ian & The Dream, No Quarter and Spoiled Rotten. The night will include a performance of the event’s eponymous song, “This Time Tomorrow,” an all-star, “We Are the World”-styled charity single the organizers are selling online.
Smoking Popes w/ The Friendly Lens and So So Radio @ Turner Hall Ballroom, 8 p.m.
Picking up in the ’90s where bands like The Replacements and Dead Milkmen left off in the ’80s, the Smoking Popes played bold, punk-influenced pop music and fraternized with some of the era’s prominent punk and alternative bands (most notably Green Day). When frontman Josh Caterer tried to bring his newfound Christianity into the band’s secular oeuvre, however, the group defaulted in 1999, breaking up before they had their own chance to conquer the radio. Their reputation grew posthumously, as bands like Alkaline Trio and Fall Out Boy sang their praises, until 2005 finally brought a well-received reunion, followed by a new album in 2008, Stay Down. This February the group released an odds-and-sods compilation of early material, It’s Been a Long Day.Sassy Mamas @ Marcus Center for the Performing Arts, 8 p.m.
Playwright Celeste Bedford Walker has won an NAACP Image Award for her sensitive portrayal of African-American characters, and she brings that same delicate touch to her depiction of women of a certain age in her romantic comedy Sassy Mamas, about three women—yes, “cougars”—who confidently pursue younger men. The Hansberry-Sands Theatre Company is producing the show under the direction of Artistic Director Willie Abney. It runs through Sunday, May 16.
Saturday, May 8Mo’Nique @ The Milwaukee Theatre, 8 p.m.
Who knew Mo’Nique could act? Before last year, the plus-sized comedienne was best known for starring in the “Moesha” spinoff “The Parkers” and appearing in films like Soul Plane and Phat Girlz. While she brought an affable, larger-than-life energy to those roles, nothing prepared critics for her ferocious dramatic turn as a physically and emotionally abusive mother in last year’s Precious. The performance earned her an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress, as well as a storage locker’s worth of other acting trophies and no doubt plenty of film offers, but the actress isn’t planning on giving up her comedy career. She brings her bawdy routine to the Milwaukee Theatre tonight as part of her “Spread the Love” comedy tour, which also features fellow BET late-night talk-show host and comedian Rodney Perry, stand-up comic Tone-X and DJ Ant.
Present Music: Amir ElSaffar and Istathenople @ Turner Hall Ballroom, 7:30 p.m.
The Middle East is a vast region containing many cultural traditions and much music, ancient as well as postmodern. Present Music surveys a wide slice of the Fertile Crescent in a concert showcasing a performance of new music by Iraqi-American trumpeter Amir ElSaffar, Istathenople by Present Music’s resident composer Kamran Ince, Six Yiddish Songs and Dances by Israel’s Betty Olivero and a post-concert dance featuring Milwaukee’s Ethnictricity.
Sunday, May 9Frightened Rabbit w/ Maps & Atlases and Our Brother the Native @ The Pabst Theater, 8 p.m.
Scott Hutchison’s unique, Scottish-accented voice has pushed Frightened Rabbit into the indie-rock limelight since the band’s 2003 formation. Hutchison began Frightened Rabbit as a solo project, to which he eventually added his brother Grant and guitarist Billy Kennedy. The group toured Glasgow, Scotland, performing in pubs and quickly building a reputation for its folk-tinged tunes and bitingly clever lyrics. The group continues to expand. Following several progressively more prominent albums and an American tour, Frightened Rabbit picked up guitarist/keyboardist Andy Monaghan. The group’s latest album, The Winter of Mixed Drinks, was released in March, upon the addition of fifth member Gordon Skene.
Monday, May 10Hal Sparks @ The Rave, 8 p.m.
As a regular commentator on VH1, comedian Hal Sparks loved the ’70s, ’80s and ’90s; as the former host of E!’s “Talk Soup,” he loved trash television; and as the star of Showtime’s “Queer as Folk,” he loved other guys. Still boyish at age Hal Sparks 40, he’s a proud TV personality, a guest on any reality show that will have him—anybody remember “Celebracadabra,” the show where kinda-sorta celebrities competed to learn magic?—but first and foremost, he’s a stand-up comedian, riffing on pop culture and social absurdities.