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This Week in Milwaukee

Sharon Van Etten, Robert Plant and Ra Ra Riot

Apr. 7, 2011
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Sharon Van Etten w/ Little Scream and Juniper Tar @ The Pabst Theater, 8 p.m.

Brooklyn singer-songwriter Sharon Van Etten built on the achy, sparsely adorned folk sound of her 2009 album Because I Was in Love on last year's follow-up, Epic, a short but near-perfect record that fitted her with a full backing band. The result was a tougher, more assured collection that retained the emotional charge of her debut but added a bit more of a bite, with Van Etten putting her intense voice to use on pointed songs about bouncing back from a truly terrible relationship. More recently Van Etten sang on The National song "Think You Can Wait." She's working with Aaron Dessner from that band on her next album. The Pabst Theater presents her concert tonight for free.

Over The Rhine @ Turner Hall Ballroom, 8 p.m.

Over the Rhine, the long-running husband-and-wife duo of Karin Bergquist and Linford Detweiler, plays subtle, atmospheric alternative pop that, over the years, has taken on a restrained, rootsy chill (perhaps the result of the couple's side gigs as sometimes-members of the Cowboy Junkies), as well as a whiff of jazz. Named for the historical Cincinnati district where they got their start, the group has released 13 albums of smoldering vocals, plinking pianos and rustic, plucked guitars, the latest of which is this year's The Long Surrender.


Kramp & Adler Comedy Festival @ Turner Hall Ballroom, 8 p.m.

It's hard not to note the irony that FM 102.1 DJs Kramp and Adler's comedy bill includes Eugene Mirman, who may be best-known locally as the "I have a radio inside my finger" spokesman for rival station 94.5 FM The Lake. Of course, in the years since he filmed those TV spots, Mirman has emerged as one of stand-up's funniest (and most surreal) acts, and has made hilarious contributions to TV programs including "Flight of the Conchords" and "Bob's Burgers." He shares this bill with Kristen Schaal, his co-star from both of those shows, and veteran comedian and podcast host Marc Maron.

Tiësto w/ DJ JSlay @ The Rave, 8 p.m.

Having first turned heads in the '90s with DJ sets that frequently ran over six hours long, Dutch DJ and producer Tiësto mixes sinewy trance tracks with throbbing drum and bass. His style has evolved significantly since his modest acid-house beginnings, as he has incorporated bigger, glossier sounds into each album. His most recent records, 2007's Elements of Life and 2009's Kaleidoscope, doubled down on contemporary electronic rhythms and guest vocals. Kaleidoscope features contributions from Nelly Furtado, Bloc Party's Kele Okereke, Tilly and the Wall's Kianna Alarid and Sigur Rós singer Jónsi.


Movits! w/ Plight of a Parasite and Gypsy Kitchen @ Stonefly Brewery, 10 p.m.

Like the pundits he lampoons, Stephen Colbert often boasts of his own clout, priding himself on a phenomenon he calls "The Colbert Bump," the increased interest in a person or product after it has been mentioned on his program. One of the oddest recipients of that bump has been Movits!, a Swedish hip-hop band featured on "The Colbert Report." The response was great enough that Comedy Central Records released the group's debut album, Äppelknyckarjazz. The group's affiliation with Comedy Central is a mixed blessing. It's given them excellent exposure, but it also suggests that their mix of old-fashioned swing music and modern hip-hop (recited entirely in Swedish) is more of a shtick than it actually is.

8th Annual Oyster Roast for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society @ Harley Davidson Museum, 6 p.m.

Oyster roasts are more of a southern tradition than a Midwestern one, but Milwaukee's annual benefit for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society puts a local spin on the tradition by incorporating motorcycles and beer. Tickets to this fundraiser are $75 and include all-you-can-eat South Carolina oysters, a Cajun buffet and live music. There will also be a silent auction that includes a Florence The Machine package, with tickets to the band's July 6 Marcus Amphitheater show with the Black Keys and a backstage meet-and-greet with the band.

Legends of Hip-Hop @ Milwaukee Theatre, 8 p.m.

It had to happen eventually. Rap music gets the oldies revue treatment on Salt-n-Pepa's Legends of Hip-Hop Tour, which pairs the groundbreaking '80s and '90 female hip-hop duo (and their longtime DJ Spinderella) with genre pioneers Kool Moe Dee, Doug E. Fresh, Slick Rick and Naughty By Nature. Between them, expect a night of old-school hip-hop hits, including "Push It," "Whatta Man," "The Show," "Go See the Doctor," "O.P.P." and "Hip Hop Hooray."


Robert Plant and the Band of Joy w/ North Mississippi Allstars @ The Riverside Theater, 8 p.m.

Led Zeppelin singer Robert Plant has played with several incarnations of the blues-folk group Band of Joy since the 1960s, most recently reforming the band last year with a completely new lineup to support him on his solo album Band of Joy. The new record is a continuation of Plant's Grammy-winning 2007 collaboration with bluegrass belle Alison Krauss, Raising Sand, that pushes Plant's rustic roots-rock into some darker territory. With his gift for making even the most unlikely covers sound like lost American traditionals, Plant gives haunting, folky makeovers to songs by Los Lobos, Richard and Linda Thompson and, most unexpectedly, slowcore pioneers Low.


Ra Ra Riot w/ Generationals and Scars on 45 @ Turner Hall Ballroom, 8 p.m.

@ Ra Ra Riot couldn't help but attract comparisons to another young, chipper indie-rock band charming New York college campuses around the same time, Vampire Weekend, and even the most casual listeners couldn't help but notice how closely singer Wes Miles' fluttering voice mirrors that of Vampire Weekend's Ezra Koenig. The indie-pop sextet distinguishes itself, though, with string-heavy, bouncy baroque arrangements. Those joyful arrangements grew denser and more elaborate on the band's 2010 sophomore album, The Orchard, which was mixed by Death Cab For Cutie's Chris Walla.

Jon McLaughlin w/ Serita Cheeks @ Shank Hall, 8 p.m.

On his 2007 album Indiana, pop-rock singer Jon McLaughlin carved lovelorn songs with soft Christian-rock undertones out of light acoustic guitars and sighing pianos. He revamped his image drastically, though, in the aftermath of his Academy Award-nominated contribution to the movie Enchanted, "So Close." For his 2008 album OK Now, he ditched his farm-boy singer-song- writer persona to reinvent himself as a commercial-pop star. The record was buffed to a bright, electro-pop sheen by Jonas Brothers producer John Fields.

My Chemical Romance w/ Neon Trees @ The Rave, 7:30 p.m.

@ Veering greatly from their beginnings as a hardcore emo band, New Jersey's My Chemical Romance has gone glam on recent albums, creating arena-minded alt-rock epics little like anything else on modern-rock radio. The band's latest concept album, Danger Days: The True Lives of the Fabulous Killjoys, continues in the spirit of 2006's lofty theatrical Queen homage The Black Parade. The new album plays a bit like a sci-fi musical, with defiant rock anthems and righteous, anticorporate lyrics. Openers Neon Trees play danceable pop-rock in the vein of The Killers.


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