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Feb. 26 - Mar. 4

This Week in Milwaukee

Feb. 25, 2009
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Thursday, Feb. 26

The Milwaukee Music Awards @ Mad Planet, 8 p.m.
Since re-launching as RadioMilwaukee two years ago, WYMS 88.9 has made a concerted effort to advance Milwaukee music—not by opening its doors to all local artists, but by showcasing the work of a chosen few, granting them the constant exposure that the average Milwaukee band could have only dreamed about a half-decade ago. Much like the list of performers at tonight’s concert for RadioMilwaukee’s Second Annual Milwaukee Music Awards—Fever Marlene, Quinn Scharber and the…, Figureheads, Codebreaker and Kid Millions—the list of nominees skews heavily toward the station’s own playlist.

Chinese Telephones w/ Killer Dreamer, The Dopamines, Pigs on Ice, Possible Fathers and Jambox @ The Borg Ward, 6 p.m.
Snot-nosed but bighearted, Milwaukee’s Chinese Telephones for years turned out some of the city’s most endearing pop-punk, making ample, welcome nods to Screeching Weasel. Faced with the departure of their drummer, they decided to call it quits this year, but at least they’re leaving something behind for posterity: Their new Democracy album collects in chronological order the band’s assorted vinyl-only output from 2004-2008. Chinese Telephones sign off tonight with one last overstuffed bill at the Borg Ward.

Friday, Feb. 27

These Arms Are Snakes w/ Darker My Love and All the Saints @ Cactus Club, 10 p.m.
It’s a small but welcome twist to the standard post-hardcore formula: the pump organ, which adds an ominous gurgle to These Arms Are Snakes’ searing, clenched-jaw screeds. The Seattle group toned down some of the mathy artiness on their latest album, Tail Swallower & Dove, resulting in their tersest, most direct effort yet. This inspired bill pairs These Arms Are Snakes with Darker My Love, an L.A. band that mines criminally catchy hooks out of a buzzing, psychedelic haze, and All the Saints, a tuneful psych-rock trio from Atlanta that recalls the glory days of Touch and Go Records—so much so that they were one of the last bands signed to that venerable but financially strapped label. 

Dropkick Murphys @ The Rave, 8 p.m.
Ancestral lineage aside, everybody loves a little Irish punk party rock around March. That’s been part of the Dropkick Murphys’ appeal since their inception in 1996, but this seven-piece band has found considerably broader success than the average Celtic punk band. Derived from leftover Woody Guthrie lyrics, the group’s roaring 2005 single, “I’m Shipping Up to Boston,” became the unofficial theme to Martin Scorsese’s hit The Departed, also prominent in the film’s many knock-offs and parodies, from “The Black Donnellys” to “The Debarted” episode of “The Simpsons.” It’s since gone on to become perhaps the most unlikely jock jam ever, a home-pride anthem for the Boston Celtics, New England Patriots and Boston Red Sox.

Let the Right One In @ The UWM Union Theatre, 7 and 9:30 p.m.
American directors have stumbled in their recent efforts to make vampires scary again, but Sweden’s Tomas Alfredson made it look easy with last year’s Let the Right One In, which proves that the nocturnal undead are way more interesting when they aren’t fighting werewolves. Adapted from the hit novel and hailed as one of the most accomplished horror films of the decade, the film introduces a victimized 12-year-old boy whose friendship with a ghoulish girl next door incites rampant, gruesome bloodshed—most of which the film depicts with an eerie, detached quietness.

Friday, Feb. 27

Dark Star Orchestra @ Riverside Theater, 8 p.m.
The oft-observed irony of the Dark Star Orchestra is that the group honors the Grateful Dead, a band renowned for their improvisational spirit, by robbing their music of any improvisation. Instead, this tribute act recreates the Dead’s classic shows song for song, sometimes even solo for solo. Judging from the Dark Star Orchestra’s huge online following and continued ability to sell out concerts, though, deadheads don’t have a particular problem with this. After selling out the Pabst Theater a couple years back, the group headlines a show at the Riverside tonight.

DanceCircus: Mud, Sweat and Tears @ Humphrey Masonic Center, 8 p.m.
DanceCircus’ latest program, “Mud, Sweat and Tears: Voices from the Field,” pays homage to the planet not only through the movement of dance but also through poetry, live Brazilian music, capoeira and, in one piece, Aldo Leopold’s A Sand County Almanac. One new work, “At the Place of Mud,” muses on the influence American Indians had in naming places occupied primarily by European immigrants, while Betty Salamun’s “Wild (But True) Stories from the Compost Heap” takes an unorthodox look at the planet’s life cycle. (Through Sunday, March 1.)

Saturday, Feb. 28

Broad Vocabulary Benefit @ Frank’s Power Plant, 8 p.m.
While the changing economy one by one picks off Milwaukee’s best independent stores like teens in a slasher flick, patrons of Milwaukee’s Broad Vocabulary aren’t letting the shop go down without a fight. They’re trying to reinvent the city’s only feminist bookstore as a co-op, but first they’ll need funds. They’ll try to fill the coffers tonight with a benefit event at Frank’s Power Plant featuring a raffle, a potluck and music from Plexi 3 and International Date Lines (two garage-pop bands with a shared love for flirty, retro harmonies) as well as Uh- Oh, Pigs On Ice and Exotic Matter.

Monday, March 2

Joshua Radin @ The Pabst Theater, 8 p.m.
The TV series “Scrubs” catapulted one-time middle school art teacher Joshua Radin into folk-pop stardom when the show premiered Radin’s song “Winter” in a 2004 episode. Sales of Radin’s EP skyrocketed, bringing the songwriter a deal with Columbia Records. His songs were subsequently used in other shows like “Grey’s Anatomy” and “One Tree Hill.” He even played at Ellen DeGeneres and Portia De Rossi’s wedding. But times started to get complicated as Radin clashed creatively with Columbia over his second record, prompting him to move to independent label Mom & Pop to record Simple Times. Zach Braff directed the video for the album’s lead single, “I’d Rather Be With You.”

Tuesday, March 3

Deliver @ The UWM Union Theatre, 7 p.m.
Director John Boorman’s 1972 epic Deliverance starts with an all-male canoeing trip down a river soon to be flooded, but turns into a battle between city and country when one camper shoots a hillbilly with an arrow to stop his friend from being raped, forcing the men to flee into the forest. For her conceptual 2008 remake Deliver, Jennifer Montgomery stays true to the plot but replaces the male leads with women, substituting the original’s themes of masculinity and homophobia for a less-sensational examination of sexual violence, birth and nature. The film screens for free tonight, with director Montgomery in attendance.

Wednesday, March 4

Tea Leaf Green @ Turner Hall Ballroom, 7:30 p.m.
In the increasingly crowded jam-rock pool, it takes more than just chops to stand out. For San Francisco’s Tea Leaf Green, a quartet that divides its lead duties between guitar and piano, a break came in the form of an endorsement from Phish’s Trey Anastasio, who invited the band to warm up his 2005 tour and sat in on one of their performances. Last year the band released their fifth studio album, Raise Up the Tent, but their 2006 live album Rock ’n’ Roll Band better captures their improvisational spirit.


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