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This Week in Milwaukee

Ke$ha, Mexican Fiesta and Alice Cooper

Aug. 26, 2010
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Thursday, Aug. 26

Ke$ha @ The Rave, 7 p.m.

There’s an interesting dichotomy playing out in radio pop right now. On one end of the spectrum, there’s Lady Gaga, a theatrically minded provocateur who makes each song a statement on art, fashion and politics. On the other there’s Ke$ha, the rapping Los Angeles valley girl who celebrates sex for sex’s sake and sings in celebration of her overworked liver.

Critics have embraced (or at least intelligently debated) Gaga, while they’ve largely dismissed Ke$ha outright. But audiences have been warmer. Her debut single “Tik Tok” wasn’t just a hit, it was a bona fide phenomenon, monopolizing the top of the charts for months (and spawning an elaborate “Simpsons” parody), while subsequent singles “Your Love Is My Drug” and “Blah Blah Blah” have proved, to many a critic’s dismay, that she’s not just a one-hit wonder. A trio of DJs open for the pop star tonight, including one ominously christened DJ Skeet Skeet.

Planned Parenthood Celebration w/ Chester French, Prophetic and DJ Madhatter @ Washington Park, 4-7 p.m.

Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin celebrates 75 years of educating the state about responsible birth control and family planning this afternoon with a free concert in Washington Park. At the top of the bill is Chester French, a Massachusetts electrorock duo with Milwaukee ties that was signed to producer Pharrell Williams’ Star Trak Entertainment.

Friday, Aug. 27

Tapes ’N Tapes @ The Rave, 8 p.m.

Minneapolis indie-rockers Tapes ’N Tapes were one of the early embodiments of the “blog band” phenomenon. Though the group’s self-titled 2004 EP was released to obscurity, their 2005 full-length The Loon sparked a quick sensation in the blogosphere, helped by a rave review in Pitchfork (complete with lofty Pixies and Pavement comparisons) that paved the way for an appearance at Lollapalooza in 2007. The band worked with Flaming Lips producer Dave Fridmann for their cleaner 2008 follow-up, Walk It Off.

Unlooped @ bSide, 9 p.m.

Radio Milwaukee’s Tarik Moody and WMSE and Signaldrift’s John Goelzer conceived the new monthly event Unlooped as a way to promote collaboration in Milwaukee’s sometimesisolated electronic music scene. This month’s featured collaboration is between Def Harmonic rapper Lunaversol 9 and experimental electronic artist Erik Schoster, aka He Can Jog. The night will also serve as a listening party for Lunaversol 9’s upcoming solo EP A Novel Slur, and will feature sets from Moody, Goelzer and dark electronica noisemaker The Demix.

Mexican Fiesta @ Summerfest Grounds, noon

What began as a Walker’s Point street festival circa 1973 is now an expansive, three-day taste of Mexican culture. From Friday to Sunday, Mexican Fiesta will feature cuisine from local vendors, exhibits involving music, history and heritage, and other forms of entertainment, including a popular jalapeño-eating competition. New this year is a Science Expo and Pok-Ta-Pok, an ancient Mayan ball game.

Saturday, Aug. 28

Paul Collins’ Beat w/ The Obsoletes @ Club Garibaldi, 10 p.m.

Paul Collins’ Beat—an American group once known simply as The Beat until the British band of the same name created brand confusion, forcing the change—was one of the lucky late-’70s power-pop bands granted a critical reappraisal. Though the band’s songwriting never matched The Knack, The Buzzcocks and The Only Ones, their peppy, hooky records captured the spirit of the era as perfectly as just about any other act, and young audiences now herald The Beat’s records as rediscovered treasures. Collins still tours and records with his Beat, and his new studio albums hold up surprisingly well against his old ones. His latest, King of Power Pop!, is rife with the same youthful melodies that fueled The Beat’s early work.

AUTOMatic w/ The Night Krawlers, Element Everest and Raze @ bSide, 10 p.m.

The latest offshoot from Milwaukee’s comic-book-themed rap collective House of M, the duo AUTOMatic teams rapper A.P.R.I.M.E. with DJ Trellmatic, who together make animated, alternative hip-hop in the spirit of early Pharcyde and golden-era Gang Starr. As A.P.R.I.M.E. promises on “Do You Want It,” the duo’s debut album Transistor delivers “thought-provoking music for my people smoking pounds of trees,” with plenty of smooth, jazzy beats, dusty samples and homages to “the days of Public Enemy, Kane and Rakim.” Tonight is the record’s release party.

Asian Fest 2010 @ 3600 block of National Avenue, 10 a.m.-6 p.m.

National Avenue is celebrated as the home of some of the city’s most popular Mexican restaurants, but just several miles west of what’s called the Latin Quarter the street also hosts one of Milwaukee’s richest deposits of Asian culture. For the last three years, the city’s “Little Chinatown” has showcased this culture at a free, annual block party that returns this Saturday. Attractions include dancing competitions, martial arts demonstrations, food vendors and a contest to determine the city’s best egg roll.

Home Brewed Music & Arts Festival @ The Miramar Theatre, 12:30 p.m.

At the inaugural Home Brewed Music & Arts Festival, promoters have put on display a wide variety of visual artists and rock and hip-hop musicians, many of who have largely flown under the radar of local press. The music lineup includes Lil Ole P, Quick 50, Motorboat, Tom Young, KritiK & Immoral, The Paramedics, Mr. Logek and Roundtable Entertainment, while the featured artists include Adam Ithier, Calvin Raab, Chad Bridgewater and Janson Rapisarda.

The Mighty Mighty Bosstones w/ Teenage Bottlerocket and The Flatliners @ The Rave, 8 p.m.

Perhaps more than any other American ska band, The Mighty Mighty Bosstones laid the groundwork for the genre’s mid-’90s rise, creating the fusion of punk riffs, driving horns and party-ready irreverence that so many ’90s acts would bank on. They got their own taste of success, too, appearing in the film Clueless and scoring a big alt-radio hit with 1997’s “The Impression That I Get.” The band took a hiatus in 2004 as singer Dicky Barrett became the announcer for “Jimmy Kimmel Live!,” but reunited in 2007 and returned to the studio for last year’s carefree Pin Points and Gin Joints.

Tuesday, Aug. 31

Alice Cooper w/ Brent James & The Contraband @ The Riverside Theater, 8 p.m.

Especially for younger listeners who weren’t around to hear “School’s Out” upon its original release, it’s difficult to think of Alice Cooper without remembering his cameo appearance as the benevolent American history teacher in Wayne’s World. That scene, in which Cooper eloquently explains the Algonquin origins of “mill-e-wah-que,” perfectly reflects Cooper’s savvy dual nature: There’s Alice Cooper the over-the-top musical demigod, whose shocking stage performances influenced the likes of GWAR and Marilyn Manson, and there’s Alice Cooper the cameraready born-again Christian and VH1 television personality.

That’s not to say that Cooper has gone soft with age; rather, it’s a testament that, like so many enigmatic rockers who followed him, Cooper has always had uncanny control over his public persona.

Wednesday, Sept. 1

Zann w/ Black Kites, Protestant, No Future @ Borg Ward Collective, 7 p.m.

Named after a Gothic novel by H.P. Lovecraft, the chaotic German band Zann was formed in 1999 as a four piece before adding another guitarist after some early shows. Unlike similarly long-lasting punk acts, their output has been fairly scarce. They owe much of their notoriety to a single, untitled album from 2006 that showcased their dramatic fusion of metal and Rites of Spring-styled emo. That was followed by a 12-inch split with the now-defunct Burial Year in 2008 and this year’s X, a 7-inch released through Protagonist Records.


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