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This Week in Milwaukee: Mar. 13-19

Mar. 12, 2014
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Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr. @ Turner Hall Ballroom, Mar. 13

Thursday, March 13

Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr. @ Turner Hall Ballroom, 7 p.m.

Detroit’s Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr. are one of the rarest things: A heavily blogged-about buzz band that made a seamless transition to a major label. Though the title of their 2011 Warner Bros. Records debut, It’s a Corporate World, suggested some reticence about signing to one of the majors, the album found the quirky, electronic indie-rock group in fine form, kicking around playful pop songs that never sounded like they were pandering to the radio or movie soundtracks. The group’s 2013 follow-up, The Speed of Things, was an even denser, more eclectic affair.  


ACME: Songs Still Sung @ South Milwaukee Performing Arts Center, 7:30 p.m.

New York’s American Contemporary Music Ensemble (ACME) is a classical ensemble by trade, but its players aren’t in any way restricted by genre boundaries. They’ve collaborated with electronic and indie-rock acts, including Low and Grizzly Bear, lending string accompaniments to that group’s 2012 album Shields, and their live performances take a decidedly modern approach to classical music. For this program, “Songs Still Sung,” they’ll pay homage to lesser-known Polish composer Mieczysław Weinberg, offering a rendition of his Piano Quintet Op. 18, along with Olivier Messiaen’s sweeping Quartet for the End of Time.


Friday, March 14

Jennifer Nettles w/ Brandy Clark @ The Riverside Theater, 7 p.m.

Jennifer Nettles certainly didn’t need to go solo. She was doing just fine with her country duo Sugarland, which has been enjoying huge commercial success since the mid-’00s, including five number one country singles and the 2010 crossover pop hit “Stuck Like Glue,” from their latest album The Incredible Machine. Her new solo album That Girl, however, explores sounds and styles that might sound out of place on a Sugarland album. Produced by Rick Rubin, it includes dalliances in coffeehouse love songs (“This One’s For You,” co-written by Sara Bareilles, one of many pop songwriters who contributed behind the scenes) and soulful R&B (courtesy of horn players from The Dap-Kings, who punch up a cover of Bob Seger’s “Like a Rock”).


Saturday, March 15

Gaelic Storm @ The Riverside Theater, 7 p.m.

Gaelic Storm are travelers by trade: The Celtic rock group tours America aggressively each year, and in order to produce their 2012 album Chicken Boxer, half the band headed to Ireland to collect local stories and melodies to incorporate into their new material. The band’s discography bursts with narrative stories that are just as good to dance to as they are to drink to—and in concert, the band encourages crowds to do plenty of both. This weekend the sprightly group returns to The Riverside Theater, where their performances have become one of Milwaukee’s St. Patrick’s Day traditions.


Slightly Stoopid w/ Mariachi El Bronx and The Grouch & Eligh @ The Rave, 8 p.m.

Since the death of Sublime’s Bradley Nowell, there’s been no shortage of bands filling the continued demand for his band’s chunky, laidback mix of ska, reggae and punk. Most recently, Southern California’s The Dirty Heads have ridden the formula to considerable alt-rock airplay, and it looks like Slightly Stoopid, a band that Nowell actually signed before his death, are enjoying the halo effect. The group’s latest album, 2012’s Top of the World, was their highest charting yet, entering the Billboard chart at No. 13. As usual, the band wears its influences on its sleeve: The album features assists from members of Fishbone, G. Love & Special Sauce, Jurassic Five, Greyboy Allstars and Black Uhuru.


Sunday, March 16

Experience Hendrix @ The Riverside Theater, 6:30 p.m.

Though he’s remembered most as a rock icon, Jimi Hendrix had a profound influence on the blues as well. As a result, each year some of the biggest names in blues come together to form the most overqualified Jimi Hendrix cover band possible for the Experience Hendrix Tour. This year’s tour features next-generation blues icons Jonny Lang and Kenny Wayne Shepherd, the legendary Buddy Guy, Zakk Wylde, Dweezil Zappa, Eric Johnson, Cesar Rosas and David Hidalgo of Los Lobos, Doyle Bramhall II, Chris Layton and Eric Gales, as well as Jimi Hendrix Experience bassist Billy Cox. In various permutations, they’ll blaze through Hendrix’s signature songs, like “Purple Haze,” “Little Wing” and “The Wind Cries Mary.”


Tuesday, March 18

Islands w/ Escondido and Jaill @ Mad Planet, 9 p.m.

Islands will never be Nicholas Thorburn’s best-loved band. That distinction falls to The Unicorns, the Canadian quirk-pop act Thorburn fronted for a brief run in the early ’00s. Since that group disbanded, Thorburn has been plenty prolific, with much of his output being released with Islands, a revolving-door indie-rock band that takes things (somewhat) more seriously than The Unicorns ever did. They also cover a whole lot more ground stylistically, veering from stereophonic, widescreen pop to skronky synth-rock. The group has mellowed with age: Islands’ 2012 A Sleep & A Forgetting, recorded with Elliott Smith producer Rob Schnapf, indulged Thorburn’s ear for Brian Wilson-esque grandeur, while last year’s Ski Mask luxuriated in similarly relaxed, sun-caked sounds.


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