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May 15 - May 21

This Week in Milwaukee

May. 15, 2008
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This Week in Milwaukee

Thursday, May 15

VHS or Beta @ Stonefly Brewery, 9 p.m.
VHS or Beta doubled down on the dance-punk craze of a half-decade ago, pairing their twitchy guitars with boisterous, Daft Punk-styled party beats. As dance-punk petered out, lasting barely as long as the late-’90s swing revival, the Louisville, Ky., band attempted to save face by moving toward a more restrained—and very much in vogue—’80s nostalgia sound.

On their newest album, Bring on the Comets, they’ve again gone all out: None of their contemporaries have so fully embraced Tears for Fears. The band’s melodic sensibilities, paired with their still-danceable beats, make them crowd favorites, but their calculated, seemingly insincere sound has also made them critical whipping boys.

Express Yourself Milwaukee presents “Celebrate” @ The Helfaer Theatre, noon and 6 p.m.
The Shepherd Express is proud to sponsor Express Yourself Milwaukee Inc., a nonprofit group that uses the arts to mentor at-risk youth. Every year, Express Yourself Milwaukee concludes their year with a lavish showcase. This year’s, themed “Celebrate” because it coincides with the organization’s fifth anniversary, features contributions from 130 kids—even the sets were created by the program’s participants. In addition to the music, art pieces, dances and spoken-word presentations, there will also be a performance featuring members of the percussive-dance ensemble Stomp. (For more information on Express Yourself Milwaukee and the “Celebrate” event, visit ExpressMilwaukee.com.)

Friday, May 16

Dosh @ The Cactus Club, 10 p.m.
Anticon Records is still best known as a hip-hop label, but there’s nary a trace of hip-hop in the label’s longtime recording artist Dosh, an ambient multi-instrumentalist from Minneapolis. Dosh’s just-released album Wolves and Wishes features guest contributions from artists as disparate as Andrew Bird, Fog and Bonnie “Prince” Billy. Dosh has a long history with at least two of the three: He’s toured and recorded with both Fog and Bird, even co-writing songs on Bird’s latest album, Armchair Apocrypha. Although the sonic similarities between Dosh and Bird are few—Dosh’s music is entirely instrumental, frequently with free-jazz flourishes—Dosh shares Bird’s measured, academic sense of composition.

Friday, May 16

Troublemaker w/ E.Rich and Why B @ Jackalope Lounj, 10 p.m.
Los Angeles’ Troublemaker is no stranger to high-profile paying gigs, having DJed Arnold Schwarzenegger’s 60th birthday party and remixed Linkin Park for their Reanimation album. His brand of electronica is every bit as suave as you’d expect from a guy who’s managed to make a name for himself and turn a profit in L.A.’s crowded scene, but it also sports a dirtier edge than his champagne-sipping lifestyle might suggest. During a typical set, disembodied synths and disorienting snare drums pound against dubby reggae beats and hyper, booty basslines.

Blue Oyster Cult @ Potawatomi Bingo Casino, 9 p.m.
After playing together for more than 40 years now, ironically, Blue yster Cult have reached the point where they do need to fear the reaper. At least they don’t need to worry about their legacy, which is well cemented. They were one of the bands to lend a literary edge to heavymetal songwriting; they were also the first to flaunt the nonsensical umlaut, a move that would later be appropriated by bands from Queensryche to Motley Crue. Of course, to a younger, “Saturday Night Live”-watching generation, their legacy is the cowbell, which was featured on their signature song “(Don’t Fear) The Reaper,” albeit not to the extent surmised by the popular “SNL” Gene Frenkle sketch.

Saturday, May 17

Swap-O-Rama-Rama @ Milwaukee Sewing Machine, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
This now-annual event at Milwaukee Sewing Machine, 7226 W. Greenfield Ave., encourages people to recycle and swap clothes instead of throwing them away. For $5, participants can bring a bag of old clothes, shoes and accessories to swap and re-use. There will be plenty of sewing machines and silkscreening, stamping, embroidering and knitting equipment available to help participants tweak those old clothes, turning the unwanted into something personalized and fashionable.

Saturday, May 17

Face Value @ Shank Hall, 8 p.m.
Here’s a statistic that might surprise non-Genesis diehards: In a sign of just how enduring the band is, no fewer than three Genesis tribute groups have swung through Milwaukee in the past six months. This week’s, Face Value, is something of an outsider in Genesis cult circles, since instead of recreating the band’s heralded, proggy ’70s output, they prefer to stick to the poppier, Phil Collins-led ’80s material. This Indianapolis cover band even throws a few scraps from Collins’ solo discography into their sets.

Kevin Eubanks Trio @ The Cedarburg Performing Arts Center, 8 p.m.
Jazz guitarist Kevin Eubanks is best known for his passive, goodnatured presence on “The Tonight Show,” where he plays Paul Shaffer to Jay Leno’s David Letterman, but musically he’s far more adventurous than the tame, adult-contemporary tone of “The Tonight Show” might suggest. Some of his recordings even hint at the edgy guitar work of Mahavishnu Orchestra-era John McLaughlin.

Sunday, May 18

The Hives @ The Rave, 8 p.m.
After three great albums of fully realized garage-punk, Sweden’s self-aggrandizing superstars The Hives threw listeners for a loop last year with The Black and White Album, a polished, freewheeling pop record that even included a couple of collaborations with The Neptunes. Critics scratched their heads, but the album was a commercial hit in the most literal way possible— meaning that it was a hit in actual commercials, its songs having been used in ads for Nike and a couple of popcorn films. Fans longing for The Hives of yore should take comfort in knowing that, despite the group’s newfound studio eclecticism, their lean-and-mean live shows have remained virtually untouched. (To read an online exclusive interview with Chris Dangerous from the group, visit ExpressMilwaukee.com’s music page.)

Lisa Williams @ The Pabst Theater, 7 p.m.
Medium clairvoyants are the lowest of the low, bottom feeders who, using cold reading to create the illusion of channeling the dead, profit off the fears and anxieties that people feel following the death of a loved one.

A John Edward for the Oprah set, Lisa Williams keeps the tradition alive with her Lifetime series “Lisa Williams: Life Among the Dead.” Those with spiritual concerns would be better served by a homemade Ouija board, but for those seeking cheap thrills, Williams offers them in spades (during one scene from her show, she professed to feel stabbing pains after channeling the supposed spirit of a murder victim). Her only supernatural talent is her ability to keep a straight face.

Tuesday, May 20

Killswitch Engage @ The Rave, 8 p.m.
Boston metal favorites Killswitch Engage never met a style of vocals they didn’t like. Graveyard growls? They’re all about them. Axl Rose wails? Sure. Caustic screams? Yup. Lofty melodic crooning? Oh yeah. Their music covers almost as much territory as their vocals, ranging from spry metalcore to chest-beating death metal. Head to the band’s MySpace page to hear a spirited, straight-faced cover of Dio’s “Holy Diver.”

Wednesday, May 21

Alter Bridge @ The Rave, 8 p.m.
Apparently Scott Stapp isn’t the type of guy you want to drink a beer with. Who knew? After Creed disbanded acrimoniously—very acrimoniously—in 2004, the members of the band that weren’t Stapp (including Brian Marshall, the bassist Stapp had kicked out of the band) reformed as Alter Bridge, recruiting new singer/songwriter Myles Kennedy, who sings like a grounded Chris Cornell. Their music still has a similar Alice in Chains/Pearl Jam vibe to it, but without Stapp, some of the melodramatic thrills are gone—then again, so is that air of pretentiousness that rubbed so many people the wrong way with Creed.


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