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This Week in Milwaukee

Fiery Furnaces, Kneel to Neil, R. Kelly and Bruce Springsteen

Nov. 12, 2009
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Thursday, Nov. 12

The Fiery Furnaces w/ Cryptacize and Dent May @ Turner Hall Ballroom, 8 p.m.

Never a group beholden to convention, or even its own past, The Fiery Furnaces plays a curious, unpredictable blend of experimental rock, pop, 18th-century American music and whatever else the band’s restless ears desire. The brother-sister duo Matthew and Eleanor Friedberger’s latest album, I’m Going Away, was released on Thrill Jockey earlier this year, followed by a strange announcement that both Matthew and Eleanor would be releasing solo cover versions of the record. Stranger still is the group’s plan to put out a “silent album” of musical notation, with fans performing their interpretations at Fiery Furnaces gigs.

Friday, Nov. 13

The Sandcarvers w/ Wild Colonial Bhoys @ Shank Hall, 8 p.m.

Regulars at area clubs as well as Irish Fest, the Milwaukee Celtic-rock band The Sandcarvers join the stream of bands celebrating the 20th anniversary of Shank Hall this month. As part of the band’s push behind their latest album, Whiskey Tango Foxtrot, as well as their single, “Truth Be Told,” the group’s concert will be streamed live on the Chicago Celtic-rock Web site Paddy Rock Radio. Opening is Wild Colonial Bhoys, a St. Paul band with a similar fusion of Irish and American sounds.

WiscoJazz @ The Highbury Pub, 10 p.m.

In Milwaukee’s precarious electronic music scene, it’s rare for a weekly event to last more than a couple of years—hell, it’s a feat even when some of the venues that host electronic music last a couple of years—so the third anniversary of WiscoJazz Fridays at the Highbury Pub is a cause for celebration. Since 2006, DJs Lukewarm, DJB and Edd Reynolds have been spinning a diverse, free-form mix of Chicago-style deep house, downtempo, hip-hop and funk. Tonight they’ll celebrate that anniversary with their usual free night of electronic music.

Firestarter Films #6 @ Live Artists Studio, 6 p.m.

Aiming to provide an outlet for Milwaukee’s burgeoning film scene, area filmmakers Shawn Monaghan and Phil Koch created Firestarter Films, a bimonthly event that invites local auteurs to screen their short films and engage in discussions with the audience afterward. Anyone is invited to bring work to be shown that night, regardless of experience or credentials, but tonight’s installment of the series has a bit of a competitive twist: All entries must be two minutes or less and be about trees. The subject is commonplace, to be sure, but expect to be surprised by the way that simple theme takes off in all manner of creative directions.

Saturday, Nov. 14

Kneel to Neil @ Linneman’s Riverwest Inn, 8 p.m.

No figure looms larger in the alt-country community than Neil Young, a songwriter whose fusion of rock, folk and twang paved the way for the genre as it is today. At the annual Kneel to Neil benefit, now in its fifth year, local folk, rock and country musicians cover Young’s songbook to raise money for 91.7 WMSE and the Bridge School for handicapped children. This year’s lineup includes Beauvilles, Aimless Blades, The Carolinas, The Celebrated Workingman, Lisa Gatewood, Conrad Plymouth, Mike Fredrickson, Juniper Tar’s Jason Mohr and Chris DeMay and others.

The Conformists w/ IfIHadAHiFi, Dear Astronaut @ The Borg Ward, 8 p.m.

St. Louis’ The Conformists have been playing their own peculiar brand of loud, doom-laden, experimental math-rock since 1996, and while the band has unsurprisingly not found much mainstream success—their proclivity for screechy noises and lengthy, whisper-quiet passages hasn’t won them many friends at radio stations—they have a loyal underground following. The group’s 2007 album, Three Hundred, was produced by kindred spirit Steve Albini and opens with 30 seconds of silence, a prelude to all the clatter that’s to come.

Sinbad @ Jokerz Comedy Club, 8 and 10:30 p.m.

As a general rule, it’s never a good reflection on your career when you’re the subject of an enduring death hoax. Where similar death rumors of, say, Kanye West, were dismissed almost immediately, false reports of Sinbad’s death, spawned by nothing more than a few lines in a Wikipedia entry, spread across the Internet throughout 2007—not that Sinbad’s complaining too much, though. As offers to star in family movies become scarce, Sinbad’s death gave the comedian his biggest publicity boost of the decade (seconded, shortly after, by his role as a witness of Hillary Clinton’s odd Bosnian sniper exaggeration).

Sunday, Nov. 15

R. Kelly w/ Pleasure P @ The Milwaukee Theatre, 7:30 p.m.

No R&B singer has ever had a better understanding of rap music than R. Kelly, a perennial hit-maker who’s navigated every trend in contemporary R&B and hip-hop since the new jack swing days. On recent albums Kelly’s particularly immersed himself in rap music, which seems only appropriate since, like many rappers, he does his best work when he’s embattled. A cloud of sex scandals had left him on the defense mid-decade, but with his hiphop novella turned cultural phenomenon “Trapped in the Closet,” Kelly tamed the perception of the singer as a sexual deviant by casting himself as a harmless oddball in on the joke. Kelly plays tonight in advance of his upcoming ninth album, Untitled. The album’s lead single, the Keyshia Cole-assisted sex-as-a-hitsong allegory “Number One,” has been a mainstay of urban radio this fall.

The Milwaukee Comic Book Convention @ The Best Western Milwaukee Airport Hotel and Conference Center, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

While they may not have the spectacle of bigger events like Wizard World or the San Diego Comic-Con, where publishers (and savvy film companies) spare no expense to hype their product, there is something kind of endearing about regional comic book shows. Seeing the hall of a bowling alley or a hotel ballroom packed with gray boxes of comics, toys and other memorabilia with eager bargain hunters searching for rare gems is certainly an experience, and rather thrilling if you’ve ever contracted the comic collecting bug. These kinds of shows are as much about meeting people as they are collecting, and celebrating the shared enthusiasm for the characters and story lines that make comics so fascinating in the first place. Admission to today’s convention is free, so you’ll have a little extra cash for back issues.

Bruce Springsteen @ The Bradley Center, 7:30 p.m.

Is there any working American musician in less need of an introduction than Bruce Springsteen? Since his 1973 debut album, Greetings from Asbury Park, N.J., the Boss has rarely left the public eye, recording and gigging at a relentlessly prolific pace. Springsteen’s most recent disc, Working on a Dream, met with less enthusiastic reviews than usual, but the bonus track, “The Wrestler,” from the Darren Aronofsky film, reminded listeners of the kind of evocative, poetic, everyman Americana that catapulted Springsteen to stardom in the first place.

Still famous for his marathon sets, Springsteen announced that tonight his ever-trusty E Street Band will play the entirety of their landmark 1975 album, Born to Run.

Tuesday, Nov. 17

Megadeth w/ Machine Head, Suicide Silence and Arcanium @ The Rave, 6:45 p.m.

Dave Mustaine may have been kicked out of Metallica decades ago, but he’s doing all right for himself: He went on to form Megadeth, one of the most successful thrash metal bands of all time. They’ve also been the most productive of the so-called “Big Four” of thrash-metal, out-recording Metallica, Anthrax and Slayer. In 2007, the group renewed critical interest with United Abominations, a heavily political return to form. They continued in fine form on this year’s follow-up, Endgame, arguably their heaviest record in a decade.

Wednesday, Nov. 18

Brendan Benson and Cory Chisel @ Turner Hall Ballroom, 8 p.m.

Jack White didn’t exactly draft singer-songwriter Brendan Benson from obscurity when he formed his sort-of-supergroup The Raconteurs. For years Benson had been growing an audience with his immaculately crafted collections of Paul McCartney and Elvis Costelloinspired power-pop, a songwriting style more apparent on his solo albums than on his records with The Raconteurs. Benson, who this August released his latest album, My Old, Familiar Friend, shares tonight’s bill with Appleton singer-songwriter Cory Chisel. The two collaborated, along with other members of The Raconteurs, for Chisel’s latest album of gospel-inflected roots-rock, Death Won’t Send a Letter. Benson co-wrote the album’s lead single, “Born Again.”

Willy Porter @ Shank Hall, 8 p.m.

Mequon songwriter Willy Porter conjures Bob Dylan on the title track to his recessioninspired new album, How to Rob a Bank, a portrait of America’s credit crunch. In the spirit of the times, though, his scheme is more Bernie Madoff than Bonnie and Clyde. “I’m gonna secure myself a seat on the board of directors first … I’ll get some decent suits and a bogus business plan,” Porter sings. “That’s how you rob a bank.” In channeling the populism of Woody Guthrie, Porter eases up on the acoustic guitar heroics that have been a staple of previous albums, but has crafted some of his most tuneful songs yet.


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