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Nov. 27 - Dec. 3

This Week in Milwaukee

Nov. 26, 2008
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Friday, Nov. 28

Shelby Lynne @ Turner Hall Ballroom, 8 p.m.
A duet with George Jones on his 1988 hit “If I Could Bottle This Up” introduced Shelby Lynne to the country establishment, but they had no idea what to do with her. For years, Lynne was shoehorned into all styles of contemporary country music, usually with awkward results. The tables turned, though, with 2000’s declaration of independence, I Am Shelby Lynne, a self-assured roots-rock album that refashioned the singer as a fierier, more-rustic Sheryl Crow. Subsequent albums have continued down the same independent path, giving Lynne ample space to do whatever she wants, as on her most recent release, Just a Little Lovin’, where she sings nine torchy songs popularized by Dusty Springfield as though she’d written them herself.

A Christmas Carol @ The Pabst Theater, 2 and 7:30 p.m.
Getting an early start on December’s all-things-Christmas theater season, this weekend the Milwaukee Repertory Theater opens its annual take on A Christmas Carol, one of the most lavish and intricately staged productions in the city. As usual, the Rep keeps the production fresh with bold cast changes. Overly familiar as it is, this year the story might ring with particular poignancy, given the country’s newly Dickensian economic position.

Saturday, Nov. 29

Yes @ Riverside Theater, 8 p.m.
Though this tour bills the band as Yes—often in screaming capital letters—the fine print tells you that the performers are technically “Steve Howe, Chris Squire and Alan White of Yes.” Yes has actually been on hiatus since 2004, choosing not to record after the bleak sales of 2001’s Magnification, and though a reunion tour was planned for the symphonic prog-rock band’s 40th anniversary this year, it was scrapped when frontman Jon Anderson suffered an acute respiratory failure. Filling his place is—you really can’t make this up—Benoit David, a singer from a Canadian Yes cover band. (Keyboardist Rick Wakeman is also absent, though he’s replaced by his son, Oliver.)

Think Floyd USA @ Shank Hall, 8 p.m.
Not to be confused with the British Pink Floyd tribute band of the same name, America’s nine-piece Think Floyd USA aims to recreate not only the sound but the experience of a classic Pink Floyd concert, so they make ample use of lasers and light shows. Their shows can clock in at nearly three hours, and unlike similarly themed cover bands, they keep their set lists a mystery—sometimes they cover entire albums, sometimes they stick to rarities.

Will Durst w/ Richard Halasz and Art Kumbalek @ Paulo’s Pizza, 8:30 p.m.
The real winners in the 2008 presidential campaign—aside from, you know, the Democrats—were political comedians, who in the age of YouTube and the must-fill 24-hour news cycle were nearly as visible as traditional journalists. Milwaukee’s own Will Durst got in on the action, of course, releasing a book at the start of the season—The All-American Sport of Bipartisan Bashing—and filming his own lyrical play-by-plays of the campaign for YouTube. As the dust from the campaign settles, the sad economy alone should provide Durst with more than enough material. In one typically perceptive rant, Durst points out that “when everybody in America knows the name of the secretary of the treasury, that’s not good.” Fresh from his failed candidacy for higher office, the Shepherd’s own Art Kumbalek hosts tonight’s bill.

Will Durst

Monday, Dec. 1

Mudvayne w/ 10 Years and Snot @ Eagles Ballroom, 7 p.m.
Like pretty much every alt-metal band with an affinity for make-up, Mudvayne doesn’t get too much love from the critical establishment. They’ve never cracked the “50” threshold on Metacritic, and most recently Rolling Stone cut into their newest album, The New Game, chastising the group for “churning out poor-me songs that build from a whine to a godforsaken yowl.” But Mudvayne is a sharper, hookier metal band than critics credit them for and, if nothing else, they know how to treat their loyal followers, even letting fans pick the track list for 2007’s odds-and-sods collection, By the People, For the People. Like Sarah Palin, Mudvayne has a little news flash for all those reporters and commentators: They’re not seeking your good opinion; they’re serving the people of this great country.

Tuesday, Dec. 2

Jeremy Enigk @ Shank Hall, 8 p.m.
Jeremy Enigk was the shy, mysterious frontman for Sunny Day Real Estate, arguably the most important of the ’90s emo bands. That group’s tenure was a rocky one, and the group never found the success they seemed destined for, though years later an army of followers inspired by Enigk’s passionate, swooning vocals would conquer modern-rock radio. Enigk and two former band mates reunited as The Fire Theft in 2002, but for his solo albums Enigk strays substantially further from his comfort zone. His 1996 debut was recorded with a full orchestra, but even more surprising was his 2006 follow-up, World Waits, a conventional, “mature” rock album that consciously distances itself from Sunny Day’s dramatic sound.

Death Cab For Cutie w/ Jack’s Mannequin and The Ting Tings @ Eagles Ballroom, 7 p.m.
Death Cab For Cutie’s 1998 studio debut, Something About Airplanes, conveniently reissued this fall for its 10th anniversary, introduced yet another charming little Pacific Northwest band infinitely indebted to Built to Spill’s wobbly, heartsick guitar-pop. With its nasally cries, clumsy guitars and careening cello, the album seldom deviated from There’s Nothing Wrong with Love’s reliable playbook, but on future releases this once-modest band would begin to distinguish themselves from their regional peers, crafting a tightly woven, achingly romantic indie-rock sound that’s all their own, more bookish than their visceral peers, but no less affecting. The band tops FM 102.1’s Big Snow Show tonight, supported by Jack’s Mannequin and The Ting Tings.

Death Cab For Cutie

Glen Phillips and Jonatha Brooke @ Turner Hall Ballroom, 8 p.m.
Fronting the easygoing alternative rock band Toad the Wet Sprocket, Glen Phillips penned his share of moderate hits in the ’90s, including “All I Want” and “Walk on the Ocean,” but since that band’s breakup he’s traversed a more rootsy, folkier path, collaborating with Nickel Creek, recording for Lost Highway Records and vying for respect in songwriting circles. He takes second billing tonight to Jonatha Brooke, a veteran folk singer who embraced big Top 40 sounds on her 2007 disc, Careful What You Wish For, a glossy affair where she sneered like Ani DiFranco and Alanis Morissette at their most self-satisfied. She returned to more tempered sounds for this year’s The Works, for which she wrote new music to accompany unused lyrics from Woody Guthrie’s apparently cavernous archives.


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