This Week in Milwaukee
The Cake Boss, Smith Westerns and Tim & Eric
Thursday, Nov. 11
The Cake Boss @ The Riverside Theater, 7:30 p.m.
The trend of cable television personalities taking their acts on the road continues with “The Cake Boss” star Buddy Valastro and his “Bakin’ With The Boss Tour.” The distinctly New Jersey bakery owner, whose eccentric Hoboken shop is the set for his TLC reality series, will tell cakethemed tales, take audience questions and give cake-decorating demonstrations.
David Vandervelde w/ Brass Bed and Trapper Schoepp & The Shades @ Cactus Club, 9 p.m.
Nashville songwriter David Vandervelde cut his teeth in Chicago, recording with Wilco castoff Jay Bennett before releasing a 2007 album, The Moonstation House Band, that positioned him as one of the most dedicated T. Rex disciples of his time. Most of Vandervelde’s glam-rock affectations disappeared just a year later, though, on 2008’s Waiting for the Sunrise, a summery roots-rock album. Vandervelde continues to pay homage to all things ’70s on his latest digital EP, Learn How to Hang.
Bear Claw w/ Worrier and Revolush @ Club Garibaldi, 9 p.m.
The Chicago noise-rock trio Bear Claw doubles down on the bass, eschewing the usual guitar for twin bass guitars. The resulting assault recalls the mathy, tangled rhythms of Faraquet, but never at the expense of the by-the-throat immediacy of heroes like The Jesus Lizard. The trio’s latest album, Refuse This Gift, is its third recorded with Chicago noise god Steve Albini, and like Albini’s best work, it’s loud, direct and unpretentious, an honest distillation of the band’s live show.
Lotus w/ Mux Mool and Direwolf @ Turner Hall Ballroom, 8 p.m.
At its worst, so-called “jam-tronica,” the subset of improvisational music spun around electronic and dance sounds, can be every bit as meandering as the most indulgent guitar-based jam music, but Philadelphia’s Lotus has increasingly fine-tuned the genre. The group’s 2008 debut, Hammerstrike, released through the String Cheese Incident’s SCI Fidelity label, has grooves to spare, and though the group stretches out these funky, cowbell-laden jams longer than a more conventional dance-rock band might, they never draw them out to the point of boredom.
Friday, Nov. 12
Smith Westerns and Reading Rainbow @ Club Garibaldi, 9 p.m.
Chicago’s Smith Westerns trafficked in youthful garage-pop on their lo-fi 2009 selftitled debut album, singing of good times and romantic frustrations. The subject matter is much the same on their latest single, “Weekend,” but this time the production is polished to Mott the Hoople levels of sheen, suggesting a glam-rock makeover for their upcoming album Dye It Blonde, due in January.
Last Comic Standing @ The Pabst Theater, 8 p.m.
NBC’s “Last Comic Standing” hasn’t been a gigantic hit even by that network’s standards—it has flirted with cancellation a couple of times—but it has succeeded in boosting otherwise little-known comedians like Ralphie May, Iliza Shlesinger and Gabriel Iglesias. The show’s sometimes neurotic editing too often turns comedians’ routines into choppy little bits, but that problem is remedied during the series’ annual tours. The latest spotlights the top five finalists from the program’s past season, including winner Felipe Esparza.
Saturday, Nov. 13
Circle II Circle w/ Heaven and Hell and A Tortured Soul @ Vnuk’s Lounge, 9 p.m.
While the original singer of the Florida power-metal institution Savatage, Jon Oliva, has spent much of his recent career with the prog-rock Christmas cash cow the Trans-Siberian Orchestra, since 2001 Oliva’s replacement Zachary Stevens has continued to make the kind of proggy metal records that Savatage fans crave with his own band, Circle II Circle. The group’s latest album, Consequence of Power, is the kind of melodic hard-rock record that was in vogue throughout the ’80s but without the excess braggadocio that sometimes made it hard to take those records seriously. Stevens prefers a much more personal, down-to-earth form of songwriting.
Dawes w/ The Moondoggies and Romany Rye @ Turner Hall Ballroom, 8 p.m.
The Los Angeles folk-rock quartet Dawes reimagined the modern, hushed Americana of acts like Fleet Foxes through the prism of ’70s singer-songwriters on their 2009 debut, White Hills, a collection of relaxed tunes set to easygoing acoustic guitars and achingly pretty pianos. The group has toured hard behind that album. Tonight’s Milwaukee performance will be their fourth in just a little over a year, but their fi rst as headliners.
The Jake Paul Band w/ ETO and Fat Andy @ Shank Hall, 8 p.m.
A jammy Milwaukee singer-songwriter in the Jack Johnson/G. Love mold, Jake Paul sings acoustic shuffl es about positivity and rising above in a breathy voice on his band’s debut EP, released this summer, rapping the occasional verse in the spirit of Sublime. Paul embraces his infl uences live, covering songs by muses like Johnson, Sublime, David Gray and Pink Floyd.
The Chapin Sisters w/ NEeMA @ Cactus Club, 10 p.m.
A timely and unexpectedly solemn cover of Britney Spears’ “Toxic” earned the Los Angeles folk-pop group The Chapin Sisters considerable radio play in 2005, before the band had even performed its fi rst show, and the group’s 2008 full-length, Lake Bottom LP, made good on the emotional roots music that cover promised. Sisters Abigail and Lily Chapin followed that album this year with Two, a disc they recorded in a farm studio in rural New Jersey with Gang Gang Dance’s Jesse Lee.
Sunday, Nov. 14
Daniel Tosh @ Riverside Theater, 7 and 10 p.m.
Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert get all the buzz, but fellow Comedy Central comedian Daniel Tosh regularly tops both in the ratings with his droll roundup of viral videos, “Tosh.0.” Though he largely avoids discussing the Internet in his live act, Tosh’s stand-up persona is every bit as sarcastic as that show, with the perpetually cynical comedian offering a meta-commentary on his own material, deconstructing (and sometimes over-explaining) his jokes as he makes them.
The Heavy w/ Wallpaper @ Turner Hall Ballroom, 8 p.m.
The British group The Heavy modernizes soul and funk music with big, punchy beats derived in part from hip-hop, giving it much the same treatment that Mark Ronson lent to Amy Winehouse’s Back to Black. The group’s second album, 2009’s The House That Dirt Built, contains a single that perfectly sums up the group’s M.O.: “How You Like Me Now?,” a sweaty, horn-stomped James Brown update that cranks the volume to levels that even the Godfather of Soul rarely reached.
Tuesday, Nov. 16
Tim and Eric @ The Pabst Theater, 8 p.m.
Tim Heidecker and Eric Wareheim aren’t cartoons, but they are the stars on the Cartoon Network, filling late-night airtime with “Tim and Eric Awesome Show, Great Job!,” a surreal sketch comedy show. With the poorly lit sets and sad production values of late-night public access shows, the duo (and their bounty of celebrity guests) act out prolonged, deliberately uncomfortable skits about social outcasts and grotesque entertainers. The two have taken their show on the road with their holiday-themed “Chrimbus Spectacular 2010” tour, which includes related openers Pusswhip Banggang (Tim and Eric’s satirical psych-rock band) and hack comedian Neil Hamburger.
Graham Colton Band w/ Bascom Hill @ Shank Hall, 8 p.m.
Though he’s never been a contestant, Graham Colton is inextricably linked to “American Idol.” The heartland rocker, who has often been compared to a young Tom Petty, has toured with (and also dated) inaugural Idol Kelly Clarkson, and his 2007 single “Best Days” became the exit music for the 2007 season of the popular FOX talent show. Last year Colton released a trio of intimate EPs: Twenty Something, Pictures on the Wall and Dashboard Memory.