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This Week in Milwaukee

Drugs Dragons, Broken Social Scene and Muse

Sep. 30, 2010
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Thursday, Sept. 30

Banned: Taboo Books, Bites and Libations@ Great Lakes Distillery, 5-9 p.m.

Milwaukee celebrates “Banned Books Week” with a fund-raiser for local libraries to replace frequently stolen controversial books. The event includes free distillery tours, a book-themed silent auction, a cash bar and samples of two oft-banned delicacies: raw-milk cheese and absinthe.

Friday, Oct. 1

Drive-By T
ruckers @ The Pabst Theater, 9 p.m.

Athens, Ga., rockers the Drive-By Truckers followed up 2008’s revelatory Brighter Than Creation’s Dark, a stripped-down and largely acoustic album recorded after guitarist Jason Isbell left the band, with this year’s The Big To-Do, one of the group’s most rocking albums yet, a disc that displays particular debt to the roots rock of Tom Petty. Drive-By Truckers continually fluctuate between rowdy Southern rock and sensitive alt-country, but the constant is the bittersweet songwriting of Patterson Hood and Mike Cooley, both of who pen simple but touching tales of common people trying their best to do the right thing. This show is presented in conjunction with Saturday’s Farm Aid concert.

WMSE Food Slam @ The Grohmann Museum, 6 p.m.

WMSE’s annual Food Slam fund-raiser relocates this year from the recently closed Eisner Museum to another museum, the Grohmann, at 1000 N. Broadway. The event is otherwise unchanged: It’s still perhaps the least-stuffy food tasting in the city, with WMSE DJs spinning records as patrons sample food and drink from more than 25 local restaurants, including Molly Cool’s Seafood Tavern, Motor, Hotch-a-do, Trapiche, Blue’s Egg, Beans & Barley and Simma’s Bakery. The $30 admission includes all you can eat and access to the event’s silent auction, with arts, crafts, gift certificates and tickets up for bid.

Saturday, Oct. 2

Drugs Dragons w/ Head On Electric, Burning Sons and Death Dream @ Club Garibaldi, 10 p.m.

Milwaukee scuzz-rockers Drugs Dragons follow up a self-released 7-inch with a self-titled full-length debut on Milwaukee’s rock clearinghouse Dusty Medical at tonight’s release show. Like the band’s 7-inch, Drugs Dragons chugs along in the spirit of AC/DC’s beer-swilling hard rock, but the full-length digs even deeper into horror-punk and shock-rock influences. Traces of The Misfits, The Cramps and Alice Cooper run through these confrontational songs about deformed freaks, monsters, grave dwellers and flesh eaters.

Eels w/ Jesca Hoop @ The Pabst Theater, 8 p.m.

When Eels last played the Pabst Theater four years ago, they were touring behind a languid, drum-less live album called Eels With Strings: Live at Town Hall, yet to the surprise of the audience, they delivered a balls-out rock ’n’ roll show that played like an extended Motrhead homage. It just goes to show you never know what to expect from singer/song-writer Mark Oliver Everett’s curveball-throwing alt-rock band, which has been especially prolific in the past two years, releasing a three-album trilogy of songs about “desire, loss and redemption.” Though Eels albums sometimes suffer for Everett’s prolificacy, the group’s newest disc, Tomorrow Morning, is their strongest in years.

Sunday, Oct. 3

Broken Social Scene w/ The Sea and Cake @ The Pabst Theater, 8 p.m.

Despite the five-year gap between Broken Social Scene’s self-titled 2005 album and the group’s new Forgiveness Rock Record, the band was plenty active during that time. As sometimes band member Leslie Feist enjoyed solo stardom, other members recorded with sister bands like Stars, Metric, The Weakerthans, Do Make Say Think and Apostle of Hustle, while members Kevin Drew, Brendan Canning and Jason Collett recorded notso-solo solo albums with help from their Broken Social Scene peers. Forgiveness Rock Record is a more controlled effort than the band’s wild 2005 album, with more overt post-rock undertones, perhaps a testament to the influence of John McEntire, who produced the record. McEntire joins the band on tour as the drummer for opening act The Sea and Cake, a longtime fixture of Chicago’s jazz-inspired post-rock scene.

Monday, Oct. 4

Strand of Oaks w/ Golden Coins and Wolfgang Schaefer @ Cactus Club, 8 p.m.

One of 2010’s most striking folk records is also one of the most difficult to hear. Strand of Oaks’ great new Pope Killdragon is being distributed exclusively through the subscription website eMusic, so listeners have to sign up to download it, but it’s nonetheless worth seeking out. The record breaks from acoustic folk orthodoxy with its daring use of vintage synthesizers, and unlike on Strand of Oaks’ confessional 2008 debut, this time singer-songwriter Timothy Showalter writes outside himself, telling sometimes fantastical, sometimes devastating stories about rebuilding in the aftermath of tragedy. Among the most stark is “Daniel’s Blues,” a chilling piece of historical fiction that imagines a grieving Dan Aykroyd taking violent revenge on the drug dealer he believes responsible for John Belushi’s death.

Tuesday, Oct. 5

Jimmy Eat World w/ We Were Promised Jetpacks @ The Pabst Theater, 8 p.m.

Perhaps no other band is as responsible for the proliferation of emo in its current form than Jimmy Eat World. Though the group began as a rough-edged emocore outfit in the mold of Sunny Day Real Estate, by its 2001 major-label breakthrough Bleed American the group had softened its sound and dialed up the pop. That record yielded the major hits “The Middle” and “Sweetness,” two song titles that aptly described the band’s more accessible sound. The group’s new album, Invented, reunites them with their early-era producer Mark Trombino, who returns a little bit of the toughness to the band’s recording, though it’s balanced out by a track list heavy on slow songs and ballads.

King’s X w/ Secret Society of Starfish @ Shank Hall, 8 p.m.

One of the most notoriously unlucky bands in metal, King’s X was never quite able to find the stardom their followers believed they deserved. A could-have-been breakthrough single in 1989, “Over My Head,” was inexplicably ignored by MTV and radio, while the even catchier 1990 follow-up single “It’s Love” only ignited as management issues sidelined the band. In 1994, when grunge was finishing off the remnants of ’80s hard-rock, King’s X received a rare pardon from Pearl Jam’s Eddie Vedder, who plugged the band wholeheartedly, but even that endorsement didn’t translate into sales. Despite the indignities, King’s X has aged gracefully and continued to churn out strong albums pairing prog-metal artiness with power-metal hooks, as on their most recent album, 2008’s XV, as good an introduction to the group as any.

Wednesday, Oct. 6

Agnostic Front w/ Mother of Mercy, Product of Waste and Burning Sons @ Mad Planet, 8 p.m.

One of the longest lasting and most prolific of the bands born of New York’s squalid, early-’80s hardcore scene, Agnostic Front has changed over the decades, becoming early adapters of thrash and taking a stab at old-school, skinhead punk while it was in vogue around the turn of the century (a sound that put them in line with many of their peers on Epitaph Records, which the band was signed to around that time). The group’s most recent works, including their latest album, 2007’s Warriors, have been for the German metal label Nuclear Blast, so it’s only fitting that they’ve been some of the band’s heaviest recordings yet. The group may change with the times, but they’re certainly not ones to mellow with age.

Muse w/ Passion Pit @ The Bradley Center, 7:30 p.m.

Who would have guessed that one of today’s biggest alt-rock bands would be unabashed prog-rock fans, proud disciples of Queen and Rush? On their latest album, 2009’s The Resistance, the British trio Muse builds on the arena-filling ambitions of their hit 2006 album Black Holes and Revelations, adding bigger, proggier sounds and more classical, symphonic passages to the band’s radio-friendly epics. The album, in true prog tradition, tells a detailed story involving a New World Order and an alien invasion. Openers Passion Pit, a synth-rock group with an ear for spastic hooks, will be playing their third Milwaukee show in just seven months, following a spring concert at the Riverside Theater and a crowded performance at Summerfest.


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