This Week in Milwaukee
Tripoli Shrine Circus, Cheap Trick and The English Beat
Thursday, Feb. 25Tripoli Shrine Circus @ U.S. Cellular Arena, 6:30 p.m.
The Tripoli Shriners of Milwaukee have made a name for themselves through their community service and support of the Shriners Hospitals for Children, but to many they’re best known for their local circus, which will give nine performances at the U.S. Cellular Arena through Sunday. Attractions include Polish-trained tigers and lions, a Romanian acrobatic duo, a comedic family of sheepdogs, a Chilean clown and a human cannonball. The main attraction is the Mighty Bo, the largest performing elephant on the planet.
Milwaukee Music Awards Party @ Whiskey Bar, 8 p.m.
After 88Nine Radio Milwaukee announces the winners of its third annual Milwaukee Music Awards on the air this afternoon from 4 to 6 p.m., it will celebrate with an 8 p.m. party at Whiskey Bar that includes performances from some of the local artists the station champions, including The Championship, Prophetic, The Subcontinentals, The Jeanna Salzer Trio and The Reckless Hearts. Before the party, the station will hold a 6 p.m. networking event for local musicians, who are invited to share CDs and meet with talent buyers from the Pabst Theater Foundation and Summerfest.
Friday, Feb. 26Warped Cast @ The Times Cinema, 11:50 p.m.
Milwaukee’s Warped Cast began by giving the live, Rocky Horror Picture Showstyled midnight movie treatment to other camp classics like Clue and Little Shop of Horrors, but recently has moved on to something more ambitious: recreating movies from scratch, in the spirit of Be Kind Rewind’s homemade re-enactments. Their latest program tackles four films in an economical 80 minutes: The Princess Bride, The Matrix, Mortal Kombat and Pirates of the Caribbean. The $2 cover should give you an idea of the kind of budget they’re working with. (Also Saturday, Feb. 27.)
Rascal Flatts w/ Darius Rucker @ The Bradley Center, 8 p.m.
Ohio cousins Gary LeVox and Jay DeMarcus and Oklahoma-raised Joe Don Rooney came together in 1999 as Rascal Flatts, a band that has since reaped 10 No. 1 singles, shelves’ worth of music awards, and top vocal group honors at the Country Music Association Awards every year since 2003. They are one of the defining crossover acts of contemporary country music, and also one of the genre’s most youth-skewing draws—an important distinction for a genre that has sometimes had difficulty courting teens. Last spring Rascal Flatts released their sixth album, Unstoppable, their glossiest, most highproduction record yet.
Tonight the group shares a concert with opener Darius Rucker, the Hootie & the Blowfish crooner who, after a failed R&B album, reinvented himself as a country singer in 2008. Rucker’s country album, Learn to Live, scored three No. 1 hits on the Billboard country charts, making him the genre’s most successful African-American singer in decades.
Saturday, Feb. 27Ralphie May @ The Pabst Theater, 8 p.m.
NBC’s “Last Comic Standing” hasn’t exactly turned out household names the same way similar starmaking television programs have, but its alums have had a decent track record on the comedy circuits. One of its most successful is Ralphie May, a portly, baby-faced Southerner with an odd, excitable voice who nearly won the show’s first season. May has since showcased his hip-hop-influenced comedy and disregard for political correctness on several CD and DVD releases.
The Dropkick Murphys had already carved out a well-earned niche as one of the best of the Celtic punk bands when their roaring 2005 “I’m Shipping Up to Boston” took on a life of its own. Prominent placement in the Martin Scorsese hit The Departed established the song as the unofficial theme to that movie, and the song has since gone on to become perhaps the most unlikely jock jam ever, a home-pride anthem for the Boston Celtics and Red Sox, as well as a favorite for the New England Patriots and a staple of pretty much any stadium that serves oversized cups of beer. Tonight the Dropkick Murphys continue to revel in the sports circuit when they play a concert following the hockey game between the Milwaukee Admirals and Chicago Wolves.
Monday, March 1John Mayer w/ Michael Franti & Spearhead @ Bradley Center, 8 p.m.
John Mayer the musician is about as inoffensive as they come, sighing brazenly sentimental soul-pop like his breakthrough single “Your Body Is a Wonderland,” and making occasional detours into the world of traditionalist electric blues. John Mayer the celebrity, on the other hand, is one of the most divisive figures in pop music, a tabloidcourting, celebrity-banging narcissist eager to call out anybody whose opinion of John Mayer isn’t as high as his own. Mayer has largely embraced his combative image, but even he must have been surprised by the outrage that resulted from an unfortunate, overly revealing Playboy interview this month where Mayer spoke in charged racial and sexual terms, even using the n-word. “My dick is like a white supremacist,” he told the magazine, comparing his genitals to David Duke. Mayer has tearfully apologized for the interview, but the dust from the storm hasn’t completely settled. “Is John Mayer a racist?” remains a popular debate on TV and talk radio, and protesters greeted Mayer’s Washington, D.C., concert last weekend.
Tuesday, March 2Cheap Trick @ The Potawatomi Bingo Casino, 8 p.m.
Seventies icons Cheap Trick apparently have an open invite to play at Potawatomi Bingo Casino’s Northern Lights Theater; they were just here in December. This week they return for another two nights. Unlike most of their peers from the era, the group never completely succumbed to the nostalgia circuit. They continue to record new material that serves their legacy well, like 2006’s Rockford, an album rich with the hard power-pop hooks that defined the band’s best work. Their latest album is an effort titled, understandably, The Latest. It’s a bit of a curveball, putting an unexpected psychedelic twist on the band’s classic sound. (Also Wednesday, March 3.)
Wednesday, March 3The English Beat w/ Fishbone @ Turner Hall Ballroom, 8 p.m.
With their knack for pop hooks, The English Beat were among the most commercially successful of Britain’s second wave ska acts, scoring hits like “Mirror in the Bathroom” and “Save It for Later.” Since the band’s 1983 breakup, the group has reunited countless times in various incomplete configurations. Currently there are two versions of The Beat. The one playing tonight is the Dave Wakeling-fronted American version. The tour pairs Wakeling’s band with another long-running ska institution: Fishbone, whose grab bag of hard funk, metal riffs and half-rapped lyrics made them a popular college draw in the late ’80s and early ’90s.