This Week in Milwaukee: Mar. 6-12
Thursday, March 6
Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings w/ Valerie June @ The Pabst Theater, 7 p.m.
2013 was a trying year for soul singer Sharon Jones. Just months before the singer was scheduled to release her fifth album, Give The People What They Want, she was diagnosed with cancer and forced to cancel the release and her planned 2013 tour. The good news is she’s feeling better and picking up where she left off this year, making up some of those tour dates she canceled. Even better: Give The People was worth the wait. It’s an ecstatic, party-friendly soul album that captures the raw, James Brown-esque energy of Jones’ live show.
Between The Buried and Me w/ Deafheaven, Intronaut and The Kindred @ The Rave,
North Carolina’s Between the Buried and Me have garnered praise for their heavy-as-hell prog-metal, which takes unlikely cues from ’70s jazz and fusion. There’s a good chance, though, that a fair amount of the crowd at this bill will be there for openers Deafhaven, the San Francisco ensemble behind last year’s Sunbather, one of the most acclaimed metal albums of the last decade. The record is sprawling and beautiful, seeped in the crash-and-bang dynamics of post-rock. No doubt in part because of that crossover appeal, the record placed highly on year-end lists from dozens of publications, including Spin, Rolling Stone, Pitchfork and even NPR, an outlet not usually known for its metal coverage.
Tripoli Shrine Circus @ U.S. Cellular Arena, 7 p.m.
The Tripoli Shriners of Milwaukee have made a name for themselves through their community service and support of the Shriners Hospital for Children, but to many they’re best known for their annual circus. Attractions include Polish-trained tigers and lions, a Romanian acrobatic duo, a team of aerialists, a dance and rope-work troupe called the Georgettes Magic Extravaganza, and enough clowns to entertain even the most hyperactive children. And of course there will also be elephants, including the Mighty Bo, the largest performing elephant on the planet. He knows more than 60 tricks. (Multiple performances through Sunday, Mach 9.)
Friday, March 7
The Chieftains @ The Pabst Theater, 7 p.m.
For those who want to get a jump on celebrating St. Patrick’s Day, The Chieftains offer this return to the Pabst Theater. Far and away the most popular Irish folk act, at least to American audiences, this long-running Dublin group popularized traditional Celtic music in part through their collaborations with rock and pop artists like Van Morrison, Mick Jagger, Roger Daltrey and Lyle Lovett. After more than 40 years performing together, The Chieftains are still a top-shelf touring act, and they perform their ethereal, largely instrumental Celtic pastiche to eager ears around the world.
Bay View Wine Fest @ The Historic Marian Center, 6 p.m.
The Historic Marian Center hosts the 10th annual Bay View Wine Fest, a fundraiser for the canine-rescue group Wisconsin Adopt A Golden Retriever. The dress is casual, and the $30 admission includes wine and food tasting, music and dancing and a chance to peruse and purchase art from Art & Soul, a contemporary art gallery in Washington Heights. For serious wine enthusiasts, a $65 premier wine tasting tickets includes an “International Passport” flight, which included high-end wines selected by sommeliers Frank Merenda of Merchants Di Vino, Brian Trupke of Madison’s Liliana’s Restaurant and Jeff Cox of Wine Maniacs on the River.
Saturday, March 8
Mike Birbiglia @ The Pabst Theater, 6 and 8:30 p.m.
Mike Birbiglia is a very funny comedian, but his true gift is storytelling. In his breakthrough one-man show Sleepwalk With Me, the sympathetic stand up framed his career and relationship struggles around his unusual sleep disorder, which once caused him to walk out of a second-story window. A 2012 film adaptation of that show produced by Ira Glass (of “This American Life,” to which Birbiglia regularly contributes) raised the comedian’s profile considerable. He followed up that success with another one-man show, My Girlfriend’s Boyfriend, which further explored Birbiglia’s romantic travails and his impulse to destroy relationships. Like Sleepwalk, the show is being adapted into a film.
The Sword w/ Big Business and O’Brother @ The Rave, 7 p.m.
Compared to the prog and experimental metal bands that now dot the scene, The Sword are relative traditionalists. Their brand of metal isn’t all that far removed from the hard rock that metal pioneers like Black Sabbath and Blue Cheer introduced four decades ago, though the Austin band is too smart to play into obvious retro tropes—their albums are grounded in the past, but they still sound modern. Produced by J. Robbins, formerly of Jawbox, the group’s latest album, 2012’s Apocryphon, breaks from the linear narrative of the 2010 concept album Warp Riders to explore metaphysical themes about the nature of being, but while the lyrics are vague, the riffs are as immediate and hard-hitting as ever.
Bob Weir and Ratdog @ The Riverside Theater, 6:30 p.m.
Perhaps more than any other Grateful Dead offshoot band, Bob Weir and Ratdog closely guard the Dead’s legacy. With a rotating cast of touring musicians, the former Dead guitarist makes sure to include some choice Dead songs in each setlist, and peppers the rest of his sets with can’t-miss covers (often of the very, very familiar variety) to ensure he wins over the crowd each night. This kind of unabashed fan service has made them one of the most successful touring acts on the jam circuit.
Sunday, March 9
Miley Cyrus w/ Icona Pop @ The BMO Harris Bradley Center, 7 p.m.
A lot has changed since Miley Cyrus last performed at the Bradley Center in Oct. 2009. Back then Cyrus was a fresh-scrubbed Disney starlet who had little idea who Jay-Z was, not the Robin Thicke-grinding, tabloid-seeking missile she became last year after teaming with rap producer Mike Will Made It on her latest album Bangerz. Cyrus isn’t by any means the first tween icon to undergo a hyper-sexualized makeover, but few have been quite so deft at stirring controversy. Cyrus set out to put Hannah Montana behind her, and she certainly succeeded.
Tuesday, March 11
Brett Dennen w/ Foy Vance @ Turner Hall Ballroom, 7 p.m.
Since the music industry fell upon hard times, having a tune featured in an ad campaign or hit television shows is one of the quickest and most profitable ways for artists to promote themselves. It has certainly worked for Brett Dennen, the sun-bleached songwriter whose whimsical Cali-folk tunes have found a home on the soundtracks to shows like “Scrubs,” “Grey’s Anatomy” and “House” (the hospital theme is probably coincidental). The hard-touring 34-year-old’s 2011 album Loverboy introduced a full backing band and, subsequently, a more danceable groove to his music, but last year’s breezy Smoke and Mirrors returned him to mostly acoustic sounds.