This Week in Milwaukee: March 27 - April 2
Thursday, March 27
Jimmie Vaughan and the Tilt-A-Whirl Band featuring Lou Ann Barton w/ Leroy Airmaster @ Potawatomi Bingo Casino, 8 p.m.
Along with his younger brother Stevie Ray Vaughan, Jimmie Vaughan reshaped the sound of Texas blues, bringing a hard-hitting grittiness and rocking spirit to the genre. His Austin combo The Fabulous Thunderbirds helped introduce this strain of electric blues to a wider audience in the ’80s, and he’s kept that flame alive in the solo work he’s released in fits and starts since his brother died in a tragic a helicopter crash in 1990. On his latest albums, 2010’s Plays Blues, Ballads & Favorites and 2011’s swift sequel Plays More Blues, Ballads & Favorites, he’s joined by big-voiced singer Lou Ann Barton as he digs into some of the less-explored corners of the American blues songbook.
Friday, March 28
James Vincent McMorrow w/ Aidan Knight @ Turner Hall Ballroom, 7 p.m.
Irish singer-songwriter James Vincent McMorrow’s intimate folk-rock would have drawn comparisons to For Emma, Forever Ago-era Bon Iver even if McMorrow hadn’t recorded his achingly pretty 2010 debut full-length, Early in the Morning, in a similarly secluded fashion as Bon Iver’s breakthrough. On his new album, Post Tropical, though, McMorrow breaks from the Bon Iver comparisons with a fuller sound that swaps acoustic guitars for electronic beats, thick keyboards and a good dash of hip-hop. All those drum machines suit him, lending weight to his songs without overshadowing the emotive falsetto that made Early in the Morning so enchanting.
Purling Hiss w/ Technicolor Teeth, Dogs in Ecstasy and Platinum Boys @ Cactus Club, 9 p.m.
Stemming from the fertile Philadelphia scene that spawned Kurt Vile and The War on Drugs, Purling Hiss began as a solo project for Mike Polizze, a whiz guitarist whose punk sensibilities are balanced by some serious classic-rock chops. On the group’s fourth LP, Water on Mars, Polizze lets his guitar rip, and thanks to some recording techniques that are a far cry from the group’s muddled, demo-y early albums, it absolutely crackles. The album is Purling Hiss’ first for the iconic indie label Drag City, and also their first recorded as a trio, with bassist Kiel Everett and drummer Mike Sneeringer joining what was once a one-man affair.
Saturday, March 29
Mystic India: The World Tour @ Alverno College’s Pitman Theatre, 6:30 p.m.
Since 1991, the nonprofit Vibha has been helping underprivileged children through education, rescue, rehabilitation and vocational training. For its latest fundraising effort, Milwaukee’s Vibha Action Center has organized an evening of Bollywood-inspired entertainment, “Mystic India: The World Tour,” at Alverno College’s Pitman Theatre. The evening will feature performances from the Indian dance troupe AATMA Performing Arts, which will interpret Bollywood numbers with a cast including 20 dancers and six acrobats, as well as more than 700 detailed costumes, sets, props and jewelry. Proceeds will go toward two additional nonprofits: the Health Education Adoption Rehabilitation Development Society, a group fighting poverty in the Chittoor District of Andhra Pradesh, India, and Milwaukee’s tutoring center Our Next Generation.
Milwaukee Sneaker Summit @ BMO Harris Bradley Center, noon-3:30 p.m.
This is a landmark weekend for Milwaukee sneaker aficionados. Ten years after Houston hosted its inaugural Sneaker Summit, Milwaukee will welcome its own installment of the popular sneaker-worshipping event. Attendees can browse rare, collectible, vintage and occasionally downright ridiculous footwear, and bring up to four pairs of their own kicks to trade and sell should the mood strike them. There will also be chances to win autographed sneakers from past and current Milwaukee Bucks players. Speaking of the Bucks: Admission includes tickets to the evening’s Bucks game against the Miami Heat.
Sunday, March 30
Yellow Ostrich w/ Pattern is Movement @ Turner Hall Ballroom, 7 p.m.
With his ever-evolving project Yellow Ostrich, Brooklyn-by-way-of-Wisconsin songwriter Alex Schaaf splits the difference between immediate, catchy indie-rock and head-twisting art rock. From the odd, looping pop of his 2011 full length The Mistress to 2012’s loud, horn-laden Strange Land, the common thread is Schaaf’s deceptively direct songwriting, which disguises high concepts in hooky choruses. The group’s latest album, Cosmos, is its most linear yet, a song cycle inspired by the work of philosophical cosmologist Carl Sagan. Opening the bill is an even more overtly experimental band, Philadelphia’s Pattern is Movement, a duo that’s dabbled in math rock and twisted R&B on its recent releases.
Monday, March 31
New Bums w/ Moss Folk @ Sugar Maple, 9 p.m.
To most listeners, Ben Chasny will always be best known for making all manner of ornate, sprawling, demanding and almost-always-worthwhile psych music with his ongoing project Six Organs of Admittance. His latest group New Bums, however, places him in one of the last settings fans would expect to see him: as half of an easy-breezy acoustic duo, where he plays the kind of direct, singer-songwriter music he always seemed to purposefully avoid with Six Organs of Admittance. Surprisingly, it suits him well. With Donovan Quinn (of The Skygreen Leopards), Chasny effortlessly conjures dreamy, California vibes on the duo’s debut album, Voices in a Rented Room. There’s nothing mystical, weird or challenging about it, but it’s a delightful listen nonetheless.
Tuesday, April 1
Gary Numan w/ Big Black Delta and Roman Remains @ Turner Hall Ballroom, 6:30 p.m.
Although he’s best known to most Americans for his one decades-old new wave hit “Cars,” synth-pop pioneer Gary Numan has been recording steadily since the late ’70s, and his influence extends far beyond one iconic song. Following the electronic renaissance of the ’90s, many prominent musicians from Beck to Trent Reznor sang Numan’s praises, dubbing him the godfather of electronic music. On his recent albums, including last year’s Splinter (Songs from a Broken Mind), Numan has continued to push his synthesized sound into darker, ever more industrial territory, using electronic songs to underscore gothic songs exploring the nature of existence.