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Mar. 12 - Mar. 18

This Week in Milwaukee

Mar. 11, 2009
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Thursday, March 12

A Braves New World @ Discovery World, 7 p.m.
Just in time for the spring baseball season, this month sees the release of William Povletich’s Milwaukee Braves: Heroes and Heartbreak, a book that examines the economic and cultural impact of Milwaukee’s first Major League Baseball team, as well as the rifts that caused the Braves’ acrimonious departure to Atlanta. Povletich and fellow sportswriters Don Walker and Martin J. Greenberg will be on hand tonight for a screening of a similarly themed Milwaukee Public Television documentary about the team, A Braves New World, which they’ll follow with a panel discussion.

Kottonmouth Kings w/ La Coka Nostra @ The Rave, 7:30 p.m.
Oh, the indignity. Though the bank foreclosed on the Celtic-themed rap group House of Pain in 1996, when rapper Everlast gambled on an unlikely (and for a time quite successful) solo career, the entire trio has since reunited. Yet instead of touring as House of Pain and cashing in on the longevity of their 1992 hit “Jump Around,” Everlast, Danny Boy and DJ Lethal now tour together with La Coka Nostra, a coke-rap crew that unites them with three extra rappers. The beats hark back to the head-nodding glory days of early ’90s rap, but the crotch-grabbing swagger screams rap-rock. This latest tour aims squarely for the rap-rock contingent, pairing La Coka Nostra with the Kottonmouth Kings, a putrid, Insane Clown Posse-like Orange County group whose drug of choice is pot, not coke.

40 Oz. to Freedom @ Shank Hall, 8 p.m.
Like Jeff Buckley and Kurt Cobain, Bradley Nowell’s music career was cut short at its peak in the 1990s, but his band Sublime has lived on as one of the most lucrative reggae franchises of the last two decades, spurring a veritable cottage industry of tribute bands like 40 Oz. to Freedom. Named after Sublime’s 1992 debut album, this San Diego group tours the country playing Sublime’s drug- and alcohol-drenched reggae-punk for fans, partiers and frat boys too young to have experienced Sublime firsthand. They’ve been giants of the Sublime tribute scene for years, though they may begin to feel some competition now that the remaining Sublime members have reunited, however dubiously, with a new singer.

Friday, March 13

Masonry w/ Sharapova and Elatia @ The Cactus Club, 10 p.m.
Milwaukee’s Masonry is an instrumental math-rock trio for people who don’t like instrumental math-rock. Where instrumental acts like Pelican endlessly riff on their songs like they don’t have anywhere to be, Masonry is more interested in the break than the buildup. Their songs ring with that certain hookiness that only brevity can bring. Last year saw the release of Millennium at Low Tide, a collection of vibrantly sludgy songs that sound like Black Sabbath on uppers, at least in so much as that’s possible.

Milwaukee Blues Festival @ The Milwaukee Theatre, 8 p.m.
For better or worse, because of Milwaukee’s proximity to Chicago, the city’s blues festivals are dominated by shredding, electric-blues guitarists, but the lineup at this gem of a festival prioritizes soul over volume. At 79, headliner Bobby “Blue” Bland still sends chills down audience’s spines with his soulful gospel tunes. Bland grew up just outside of Memphis, a hotbed for blues artists like W.C. Handy and Furry Lewis, and his music draws from that city’s unmistakable R&B tradition. A Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee who never found commercial success that matched his critical acclaim, Bland will share tonight’s bill with Willie Clayton, Shirley Brown, Floyd Taylor, Theodis Ealey, Sir Charles Jones and Bobby Rush.

Saturday, March 14

Missy Higgins w/ Justin Nozuka @ The Pabst Theater, 8 p.m.
Like so many other adult-contemporary artists to have their music played on “Grey’s Anatomy,” Australian singer Missy Higgins writes sweet songs about sour relationships. More so than most Starbucks-friendly songwriters of her ilk, she understands the importance of television exposure. Her recent single “Where I Stood” has appeared on no less than seven programs, including “The Hills” and “So You Think You Can Dance.” Higgins co-headlines this bill with Justin Nozuka, a Canadian folk-popper whose songs are so saccharine they make James Blunt seem like an outlaw country singer by comparison. To read an interview with Higgins, visit ExpressMilwaukee.com.

Missy Higgins

Nickelback w/ Seether and Saving Abel @ The Bradley Center, 7 p.m.
Critics have long damned Nickelback with the most hyperbolic hatred possible. A typical Nickelback write-up would have you believe that they’re the most vile hard-rock band of all time, which they’re not—though ironically their openers on this tour, Seether, might be. Ax-grinding singer Shaun Morgan used Seether’s latest album, Finding Beauty in Negative Spaces, to skewer his famous ex-girlfriend Amy Lee in the most malicious way possible, and on the unctuous hit single “Fake It,” to assail “shallow” celebrity culture. Of course, that single’s cultural critique assumes that listeners find the video games, horror films and WWE SmackDowns that Seether is synonymous with considerably more innocuous than “Access Hollywood.” Compared to Seether’s reckless butt-rock, Nickelback’s righteous post-grunge is downright harmless.

St. Patrick’s Day Parade @ Wisconsin Avenue, noon
Chicago may dye its river for the occasion, but Milwaukee has its own rich history of celebrating St. Patrick’s Day, too. The city has hosted a parade since the early 1840s—five years before Wisconsin was even incorporated into the Union. This year’s 90-minute parade promises the usual sea of Irish dancers, drummers and bagpipers, most of them dressed in a color we could all stand to see a little bit more of these days: green.

Sunday, March 15

The Black Lips @ Turner Hall Ballroom, 8 p.m.
The Black Lips do some weird things on stage. Urinating, vomiting and inter-band-mate smooching is all fair game, and most recently these Atlanta natives had to jet from their tour in India after a raucous show gave way to some indecent exposure. When they’re not mugging for the camera with their genitals, though, these self-described “flower-punkers” record genuinely infectious rock music. On their latest album, 200 Million Thousand, they spike their garage-rock with a healthy dose of psychedelia. Also playing: Gentleman Jesse and His Men, The Goodnight Loving and The Get Drunk DJs (see page 44).

The Black Lips

The Queers w/ The Poison Arrows @ Mad Planet, 8 p.m.
After years of questionable management, Lookout Records crumbled just when it was needed most. In an era where ostentatious emo bands now rule, today’s not-particularly-troubled youth could use a good, old-fashioned dose of no-frills, Ramones-informed poppunk, performed by regular Joes with a sophomoric sense of humor and a closet full of Chuck Taylors. Many of Lookout’s heyday bands went the way of the dinosaurs, but one of the label’s quintessential acts, The Queers, has carried on, recording new music—well, new in that it hasn’t been recorded before; old in that it never strays from their tried-and-true formula—for Asian Man Records.

Tuesday, March 17

Norm MacDonald @ Potawatomi Bingo Casino, 8 p.m.
Defying the timeworn archetype of the cigar-chomping, loud-mouthed insult comedian, Norm MacDonald delivers his pointed barbs from behind a veneer of amiable aloofness, allowing him to feign innocence after even the most incendiary barbs. As the best of the fake news anchors on “Saturday Night Live,” he eschewed innuendo and went for the throat. Where other comedians spoke of Michael Jackson in double-entendres, for instance, MacDonald simply called him “a homosexual pedophile.” His Norm MacDonald comedy remains innovative. Given the chance to play conventional insult comedian at a recent Bob Saget roast, MacDonald instead rebelled with a brilliant piece of performance art, delivering not the requisite, X-rated screeds but instead gentle, family-friendly jabs. The bit elicited only the sparsest applause from a celebrity audience completely unable to grasp the joke.

Gaelic Storm @ The Pabst Theater, 8 p.m.
Part of a younger generation of bands that have a sense of humor about the Celtic music they play, Gaelic Storm combines the traditional Irish instruments (fiddle, bagpipes) with a bit of a rock ’n’ roll mentality. They have a reputation for being friendlier than your average group—they’ve been known to down a pint or two with their fans—but they’re still best known as the steerage band from Titanic, where they played ballads for lower-class knaves like Jack Dawson. Twelve years and seven albums after that blockbuster, Gaelic Storm is now touring behind its latest, What’s the Rumpus?


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