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Feb. 21 - Feb. 27

This Week in Milwaukee

Feb. 21, 2008
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Thursday, Feb. 21
Mahjongg w/ These Are Powers, Juiceboxxx and Kvbitch @ Mad Planet, 9 p.m.
Like so many electronic- and dance-music collectives, the Chicago group Mahjongg is difficult to label. Their new, second album, Kontpab, blends a host of electronic and synthesized textures and sounds, but it also prominently features a strong whiff of Afro-beat rhythms, proving that blogfavorites Vampire Weekend aren’t the only ones mining this very fertile musical soil. Live, Mahjongg uses an on-stage computer to augment their assorted musicians and vocalists, quickly changing between sounds to keep the party on its toes.

Bon Jovi w/ Daughtry @ The Bradley Center, 7:30 p.m.

Although the ’90s largely killed the commercial hopes of hyper-polished, hard-rock bands of their ilk, Bon Jovi weathered the bad times, and although these days the group doesn’t move albums like they did in their late-’80s heyday, they still release No. 1 records without breaking a sweat.

Their latest, Lost Highway, is a straight-faced country-rock album featuring unlikely duets with LeAnn Rimes and Big & Rich, and sure enough, it topped the charts. Despite an embarrassing loss to instant-joke Taylor Hicks, hard-rocking “American Idol” hopeful Chris Daughtry, who opens with his band, Daughtry, has proven himself to be a commercial powerhouse in his own right. His debut album, Daughtry, is one of top three best-selling “Idol” albums.

Friday, Feb. 22
Nicole Atkins & the Sea w/ Testa Rosa and Russell Lewis @ Cactus Club, 10 p.m.

An experiment in genre-bending, Nicole Atkins’ latest album, Neptune City, incorporates influences well beyond the requisite Springsteen-styled Americana expected from a New Jersey singer-songwriter. The record also shows the 28-year-old’s roots in psych-folk, chamber-pop and alternative. Atkins refers to her own work as “pop-noir” and understandably so, given her public reverence for the works of David Lynch and Angelo Badalamenti.

Todd Snider w/ Kevn Kinney @ Shank Hall, 8 p.m.

The divide between ’90s alt-rock and alt-country was never a particularly contentious one, but it was never better captured than on Todd Snider’s 1994 sendup, “Talkin’ Seattle Grunge Rock Blues.” Since 1994, Snider has pumped out respectable offerings on both independent and major labels, most of them minor affairs filled with his signature, sardonic folk songs. After a period in which he found a niche releasing four albums on John Prine’s Oh Boy! label, Snider released The Devil You Know in 2006. He is still touring behind that record, but continues to incorporate new material into his live sets, which usually include little more than a guitar, a harmonica and ample stage banter.

Limbeck w/ John Ralston, Juniper Tar and The Candliers @ Turner Hall Ballroom, 7 p.m.

When Orange County’s Limbeck hit the scene in 2000, they leaned heavily on nondescript emo and soft-punk, but subsequent albums have seen the band transform into a more twangy, melodically driven act. With 2005’s Let Me Come Home and 2007’s self-titled disc the band fully embraced the conventions of alt-country. Opener John Ralston, of Florida, specializes in Dashboard Confessional-styled heart-on-sleevery, but more interesting are a pair of local warm-up acts. Juniper Tar have mastered the art of clean, catchy and gimmick-free Americana—tonight they’ll be celebrating the release of their latest album, To The Trees—while The Candliers kick up a messy, celebratory sound that nods to the cheery music of yesteryear.

Saturday, Feb. 23
Oscar-Nominated Short Films @ The Times Cinema, 7 p.m.
Let’s face it: Unless you have the time and disposable income to fly to film festivals around the world, it can be difficult to see all the selections that the Academy nominates for their short-film category.

Thankfully, this program, which screens at the Times Cinema from Feb. 22 through Feb. 28, makes it easy. Three sweet comedies from Italy, France and Belgium are book-ended by loftier (and lengthier) dramas from Denmark and the United Kingdom.

Sunday, Feb. 24

Smucker’s Stars on Ice @ Bradley Center, 4 p.m.
Among the titular stars headlining this skating tour are Sasha Cohen, Todd Eldredge, Yuka Sato, Jamie Sale and David Pelletier—and since the show is sponsored by Smucker’s, it’s got to be good.

Monday, Feb. 25

Division Day w/ The A-Sides and King’s Horses @ Mad Planet, 9 p.m.

Division Day’s brand of melodic, introspective indie/power-pop can be a bit disorienting—just imagine the Dismemberment Plan covering a meditative Coldplay piano track. At their best, however, on tracks like the hypnotic ballad “Colorguard” from their debut full-length Beartrap Island, the group strikes the difficult balance between jaunty and affecting, even if they never quite live up to their Elliott Smith namesake.

The group is following up their blogosphere-touted debut with a covers EP, so it’s a safe bet that a few numbers from that upcoming release will work their way into tonight’s set.

Tuesday, Feb. 26
Avenue Q: The Broadway Musical @ Uihlein Hall, 7:30 p.m.

Often billed as an explicit homage to PBS’ long-running kids series “Sesame Street,” this Tony Award-winning show centers on a group of puppets as they manage life as twenty- and thirty-somethings. Vulgarity and adult situations abound. Originally staged in 2002, Avenue Q is by no means the first show to use puppetry to explain adult situations, but it is far beyond all the rest in terms of entertainment value and pure musical value. On tour since last July, the show makes its first stop in Milwaukee and will run through March 2.

Wednesday, Feb. 27
Sia w/ Har Mar Superstar @ Turner Hall Ballroom, 8 p.m.

Beneath her deceptively small frame and her little-girl haircut, singer Sia boasts a mighty powerful set of pipes, the kind that light torch songs. She built up her resume through her chilled-out work with Massive Attack and, most prominently, Zero 7, but her strong new solo release, Some People Have Real Problems, trades in downbeat electro for something more organic and feistier (or, specifically, Feist-ier.) Concertgoers may recognize opener Har Mar Superstar as that unfunny novelty act they booed off stage back in 2003. Like a hack comedian with too much time and tenacity for his own good, he’s stubbornly stuck to the same joke, belting out sexed-up send-ups of R&B music that are supposed to be funny because he’s a portly white guy. Get it? It’s funny because of racial expectations!


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