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Apr. 10 - Apr. 16

This Week in Milwaukee

Apr. 9, 2008
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Friday, April 11

The Hold Steady w/ The Dynamiters @ Turner Hall Ballroom, 8 p.m.
Considering the number of pejoratives leveled at The Hold Steady, it’s hard to believe that the group’s last release, 2006’s Boys and Girls in America, garnered such a warm public and critical response (including an increasingly difficult 9.4 rating from Pitchfork). Often derided as little more than a glorified bar band, The Hold Steady devotes some record-space to literary odes to seemingly unremarkable events like passing out at concerts, stumbling around drunk or meeting a make-out partner at a detox tent, but those tales hardly tell the entire story. Lyricist and frontman Craig Finn packs songs with allusions to the works of Jack Kerouac and fellow Minnesotan John Berryman (suddenly an indie-rock poet of choice), marrying blistering classic-rock guitar reminiscent of Thin Lizzy with the overarching lyrical ambition of Greetings from Asbury Park-era Springsteen.

The Hold Steady

Bitch & The Exciting Conclusion w/ The Addy Janes, Jeannie Mayotte @ The Stonefly Brewery, 10 p.m.
After her mostly spoken-word and minimalist work on a few records for Ani DiFranco’s Righteous Babe label, Bitch turned to a more fully realized sound when she united with her backing band, The Exciting Conclusion. The product of that pairing is 2006’s Make This/Break This, a collection of tracks that blends her electric violin sound with hushed, sparse lyrical themes. When on stage, Bitch is a wildly dynamic character given to spastic and violent physicality, a perfect complement to her vivid, borderline-radical lyrical bursts.


Hanson @ The Rave, 8 p.m.
After their 1997 mega-hit “MMMBop” ran its course, Hanson set upon the arduous task of establishing themselves as a real band, a major challenge for a group whose charm was specifically that they never seemed like a real band, but rather just three singing brothers chirping disposable pop. Since their subsequent “mature” albums failed commercially, the group has made more of an effort to meld their adult-alternative leanings with the sugary pop that made them draws in the first place. They likely don’t have another hit single in them, but given the teen-pop stigma they’re saddled with, the mere fact that they’re still touring behind semi-respectable new material is something of a triumph.

Saturday, April 12

Lisa Lampanelli @ The Pabst Theater, 7 and 10 p.m.
Like that other race-baiting white woman, Sarah Silverman, Lisa Lampanelli relies on her unassuming, non-threatening appearance to cushion the blow of edgy observations that would make Don Imus blush. The insult comic’s stock has been rising of late, thanks to her own comedy specials and her riotous Comedy Central roasts of William Shatner and Flavor Flav, but there are signs she may be getting a little overzealous with her career.

In the last two years she’s appeared in not one, not two, but three different Larry The Cable Guy vanity projects—Larry the Cable Guy: Health Inspector, Delta Farce and, for the love of god, Larry the Cable Guy’s Christmas Spectacular.

Lisa Lampanelli

Sunday, April 13

Ryan Montbleau Band @ Shank Hall, 8 p.m.
A burgeoning singer-songwriter in a jam-rock circuit oversaturated with burgeoning singer-songwriters, Massachusetts’ Ryan Montbleau is as freewheeling as more established jammin’ bros like Keller Williams and G. Love, but sets himself apart with flashes of ragtime and zydeco music. In the spirit of the Dave Matthews Band, the touring Ryan Montbleau Band is drawn to the fiddle like Blue yster Cult is to the cowbell.

Monday, April 14

Sara Bareilles w/ Rachael Yamagata @ The Pabst Theater, 8 p.m.
Rising above the typical girl-at-a-piano routine, Sara Bareilles has managed to string some hits together thanks in large part to her appearances in those incessant Rhapsody commercials. Her delivery isn’t as sleepy as Norah Jones’, nor is it as intense as Tori Amos’ or even her contemporary Kate Nash’s, but Bareilles continues to rise on pop radio. Her major label debut, Little Voice, has been anchored in the Top 10 for weeks now. Tonight she plays Milwaukee with Rachael Yamagata, a sensitive songstress cut from a similar piano-based mold.

Rachael Yamagata

Valerie Plame Wilson @ The Marcus Center, 7:30 p.m.
The Marcus Center’s woman-centric Smart Talk Lecture Series has lined up some big names for its current season, but it’s unlikely that Lisa Ling or Marlo Thomas’ upcoming lectures will be quite as intense as tonight’s. It’s hard to top the international intrigue of Valerie Plame Wilson’s story: loving wife and mother who also happens to be a secret CIA agent is outed by a vengeful presidential administration hellbent on seeking revenge for her husband’s opposition to the Iraq war, sparking an investigation that ultimately takes down the vice president’s closest, most loyal foot soldiers (and, arguably, one of The New York Times’ crappiest reporters). Plame wrote passionately about the experience in her memoir, Fair Game.

Tuesday, April 15

JC Superstar @ Milwaukee Theatre, 8 p.m.
For this touring production of the 1971 “Jesus Christ as flamboyant rock star” Tim Rice/Andrew Lloyd Webber musical, the role of Judas will be played by Living Colour’s Corey Glover, not, as James Carville might prefer, Bill Richardson. (Also April 16).

Wednesday, April 16

T-Pain @ The Rave, 8 p.m.
Robo-voiced rapper/crooner T-Pain guested on so many singles last year that he gave Timbaland a run for his money. If you didn’t hear T-Pain on his 2007 hit “Buy U a Drank,” then you almost certainly heard him on R. Kelly’s “I’m a Flirt,” Chris Brown’s “Kiss Kiss” or Kanye West’s “Good Life.” T-Pain started 2008 equally strong: The first week of January, his Flo Rida collaboration “Low” topped the Billboard charts, and it has since become the most downloaded single ever. Jay Lyriq, Tay Dizm and Sophia Fresh open.


Anti-Flag @ The Rave, 7 p.m.
Howard Zinn-reading, capitalism-hating (but democracy-advocating) punks Anti-Flag are one of the most political acts in the history of the genre, and therefore one of the most divisive. Some punks love their vehemence, others tire of it. Their just-released newest album, The Bright Lights of America—their second since they sparked a non-scandal in the punk community by signing to major label RCA—goes down easy thanks to the varied production of David Bowie/T. Rex studio-master Tony Visconti. Street Dogs, The Briggs and Fake Problems open.


Andre Rieu and the Johann Strauss Orchestra @ U.S. Cellular Arena, 8 p.m.
Whenever PBS holds an on-air fund-raising drive, the station invariably pulls out an Andre Rieu concert with his Johann Strauss Orchestra to draw in viewers who may have tired of Michael Flatley.

This dazzling Dutch violinist has amazed crowds all over the world with his brand of new-aged waltz, and the television exposure has only added to his international fame. His concerts are not typical, buttoned-up symphony performances. The enigmatic Rieu captivates audiences not only with his whirlwind violin, but also his tremendous humor and uncanny stage presence.


Would white supremacists, neo-Nazis and the Ku Klux Klan pose the same threat they do now if a mainstream Republican were president instead of Donald Trump?

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