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Mar. 27 - Apr. 2

This Week in Milwaukee

Mar. 26, 2008
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Friday, March 28

Breaking Benjamin w/ Three Days Grace, Seether @ The Rave Eagles Club, 7 p.m.
These are tough times for many alternative-metal bands—blame those emo kids— but the three bands on this bill are doing more than all right for themselves. Thanks to the strength of their 2006 album Phobia and last year’s mega-hit “Breath,” which struck the right balance between heaviness and emotiveness to spend weeks on top of the mainstream rock charts, headliners Breaking Benjamin have never been more popular. On their latest tour, they’ve been road-testing new material, which could be released as early as this fall. Openers Three Days Grace, meanwhile, have so far milked four big singles from their 2006 album One-X, including “Never Too Late,” which very well may be playing on the radio as you read this (if it’s not, then Seether’s throaty hit “Fake It” certainly is).

Breaking Benjamin

One Way Boogie Woogie/27 Years Later @ The UWM Union Theatre, 7 p.m.
In 1977, Milwaukee filmmaker James Benning recorded 60 one-minute shots of the city’s landscapes, buildings and, to a lesser extent, its people, for a film called One Way Boogie Woogie. Twenty-seven years later he returned to essentially remake the film, revisiting the same views. Taken together, these two films, One Way Boogie Woogie and 27 Years Later, paint a picture of how the city has changed, for better or for worse. The UWM Union Theatre screens both tonight as part of a weekend-long series of Benning’s films.

Saturday, March 29

Jens Lekman @ The Pabst Theater, 8 p.m.
Swedish indie-popper Jens Lekman comes from a proud lineage of lovelorn crooners like Morrissey, Stephin Merritt and, in particular, Jonathan Richman, whose large, sorrowful eyes he shares. Like all three, Lekman melds wry, self-deprecating lyrics with an almost comically exaggerated sense of melodrama, recording music that can be read as either relentlessly whimsical or painfully sad, depending on the listener’s mood. He puts his own, distinctly Swedish spin on the craft, though, bringing in fluttering, ABBA-ish arrangements on songs for which he’s decided a lone acoustic guitar won’t suffice.

Mae w/@ Turner Hall Ballroom, 7 p.m.
Though the members of Mae routinely deny their categorization as an alternative Christian-rock band, the themes of spiritual meaning and introspective reflection often emerge within the group’s work. On Singularity, the band’s first Capitol Records offering, the search for the ever-elusive connection between physical reality and spirituality remains a constant theme. The record finds the band taking listeners on a sort of spiritual journey, albeit a less interesting one, since the band has dropped some of the prog-rock sensibilities and sprightly synths that characterized their previous efforts. One of the better emo-pop groups, for their 2007 major-label debut, Scream & Light Up the Sky, openers The Honorary Title moved beyond pouty, acoustic songs and instead churned out a polished, catchy rock record with traces of The Cure and Muse.


Sunday, March 30

2008 WMSE Music Rummage Blowout @ MSOE’s Todd Wehr Conference Center, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Start doing your hand strengthening exercises now, because you’ll be giving them a workout flipping through crates of vinyl today. WMSE’s annual Music Rummage Blowout features records, CDs, cassettes and audio equipment from most of the city’s major music stores and independent sellers, as well as specialty tables from local record labels. Admission is $3.

WMSE Music Rummage Blowout

Evangelicals w/ The Headlights @ Cactus Club, 8 p.m.
Like fellow Oklahoman outfit The Flaming Lips, Evangelicals create an acid-fried, psychedelic pastiche, drawing from cheap movie sound effects, countless rhythmic layers and a bevy of studio clatter and effects. Unlike recent Lips recordings, however, Evangelicals’ songs sometimes veer toward the more claustrophobic and nightmarish end of the spectrum, but frontman Josh Jones’ sweet falsetto keeps things from becoming too dark.

Illinois indie rockers Headlights recently released their second full-length, Some Racing, Some Stopping, which includes the plucky standout track “Cherry Tulips.” Their sound is a more refined, pointed acoustic brand of power pop, featuring the dual male/female deliveries of vocalists Erin Fein and Tristan Wraight. Milwaukee’s own Nick Sanborn, of Decibully, handles the bass.

Explosions in the Sky w/ Lichens @ The Pabst Theater, 8 p.m.
Instrumental post-rock bands usually have a limited target audience, but Austin’s Explosions in the Sky caught the attention of the general public when they boldly scored the 2004 film Friday Night Lights. Since that break, the band has been featured prominently in the television version of the high-school football drama and released two albums of new material. Last year’s All of a Sudden I Miss Everyone found the band sharpening their build-and-crash dynamic for a record filled with densely layered rhythms that recall the nuances of Mogwai and the atmospheric melodies of Chicago’s Tortoise, both forebearers in the field of the lengthy, guitar-based instrumental composition.

Explosions in the Sky

Wednesday, April 2

Donna Jean and The Tricksters @ Shank Hall, 8 p.m.
At this point, the market for Grateful Dead offshoot bands is so great a one-time roadie for the group could probably make a decent living touring behind a Dead-related project. While never one of the most important members of the group, Donna Jean Godchaux has a better claim to the Dead’s legacy than some, having served as their backing (and sometimes lead) vocalist for the better part of the ’70s. She’s an accomplished vocalist even without the Dead connection, also having sung with Aretha Franklin, Otis Redding and Elvis Presley, but she knows where her paycheck’s coming from. Her six-piece band, The Tricksters, belts out peppy, bluesy jams, and her live shows almost always include at least a couple Dead and Jerry Garcia Band covers.

Donna Jean and The Tricksters

Etta James & The Roots Band @ The Potawatomi Bingo Casino, 8 p.m.
Though she could have stopped after recording the timeless “At Last,” R&B legend Etta James hasn’t rested since she recorded the 1961 hit. Tonight James, now 70 years old, rolls into town in support of her latest release, 2006’s All The Way, a collection of covers that includes takes on Sinatra, Marvin Gaye, James Brown and, perhaps less fittingly, R. Kelly’s “I Believe I Can Fly.”  Audiences can expect several notable classics from James, the rare performer whose voice seems to get better and richer with age.

Etta James


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