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This Week in Milwaukee: Dec. 8-14

Dec. 6, 2016
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Photo Credit Jennifer Newlin
Thursday, Dec. 8
Bastille w/ AWOLNATION, Andrew McMahon in the Wilderness and Barns Courtney @ The Rave, 7:30 p.m.
For the second of the station’s two Big Snow Shows this month, FM 102.1 has rounded up another pair of huge alt-rock headliners: the British electro-pop group Bastille and the electro-prog group AWOLNATION. Bastille have a new album to promote. Their sophomore record, Wild World, features more peppy, sing-along choruses in the spirit of their breakthrough hit “Pompeii,” even as its subject matter touches on darker themes of death and political uncertainty. AWOLNATION, meanwhile, are still touring behind their 2015 sophomore album, Run, a heavy, rowdy album driven by the group’s bulldozer guitars and synths. Andrew McMahon in the Wilderness and Barns Courtney open, and for those who really can’t wait to get to the music, the station is hosting a happy hour concert with the indie-pop band Judah & The Lion at 5 p.m. before the big show.
Punk House Kegger @ Burnhearts, 6 p.m.
Like skateboards and clove cigarettes, house shows are one of those traditions that punks tend to gradually age out of—once you hit legal drinking age, the idea of drinking flat PBR out of a plastic cup loses some of its appeal. Once a year, though, Burnhearts invites patrons to relive their wilder, younger days with its annual Punk House Kegger party, which cleverly swaps the usual watery domestic beer with genuinely great beer from Three Floyds. This time, the music comes courtesy of two stellar, magnificently loud Milwaukee rock bands—Hot Coffin and Bad Grades—while the beer list includes Necron 99, Space Station Middle Finger, Gumballhead and the brewery’s golden ticket, Zombie Dust.

Back to Black: Amy Winehouse Tribute w/ Brielle Von Hugel @ Shank Hall, 8 p.m.
It’s been a decade since the late Amy Winehouse released her breakthrough album, Back to Black—a modernized soul record that injected hip-hop attitude into classic jazz and R&B templates. To mark its 10th anniversary, soul singer Remember Jones is leading a 15-piece band, complete with horn section, to perform the entire album at this touring tribute show. “American Idol” alum Brielle Von Hugel opens.

Friday, Dec. 9
MSO Performs the Music of David Bowie @ The Riverside Theater, 8 p.m.
Rock icon David Bowie covered a tremendous amount of ground over his long career—from the giddy glam of Ziggy Stardust to the spirited soul of Young Americans and the demented jazz of his incredible swan song, Blackstar. That vast songbook should give the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra plenty to work with when they pay tribute to the late legend at two performances this weekend, joined by guest conductor Brent Havens and a full rock band. (Also Saturday, Dec. 10.) 

Dead Horses @ The Back Room at Colectivo, 8 p.m.
As Americana-minded magazines and websites begin to publish their best-of-the-year lists, it’s a smart bet that at least a few of them will give a mention to the Appleton-born folk-rock band Dead Horses. This year, the moody trio released their best album yet, Cartoon Moon, which they recorded with former Uncle Tupelo and Wilco drummer Ken Coomer (it also features some guest banjo from Noam Pikelny of The Punch Brothers). The group last performed in Milwaukee in September, opening for Horseshoes and Hand Grenades at the Riverside Theater, but this weekend they’ll return for a pair of shows at the more intimate Back Room venue at the Prospect Avenue Colectivo. (Also Saturday, Dec. 10.)

David Arkenstone’s Winter Fantasy @ Dominican High School’s Wheeler Auditorium, 7:30 p.m.
In his latest holiday program, “Around the World One Winter’s Eve,” musician David Arkenstone draws from the symphonic spirit of Mannheim Steamroller as well as traditional sounds from all over the globe to celebrate the holidays. For this show, he’ll be accompanied by Milwaukee pianist Kostia Efimov, with whom he recorded his Grammy-nominated 1991 New Age album, In the Wake of the Wind, and a band that includes Grammy-winning flutist Susan Craig Winsberg, violinist Natasha Ratz and accordionist Terri Conti, among others.

Sunday, Dec. 11
Trans-Siberian Orchestra @ BMO Harris Bradley Center, 3 and 7:30 p.m.
When the Trans-Siberian Orchestra debuted their symphonic take on Christmas music in the late-’90s, it sounded an awful lot like a novelty. In the years since, however, their progged-out, pyrotechnics- and light-show-assisted tours have become an enduring tradition—not to mention a lucrative one. The group’s recent tours have grossed as much as $51 million a year, and the band has proved so popular that it split into two touring entities to better capitalize on the seasonal demand. Trans-Siberian Orchestra doesn’t want to be entirely pigeonholed as a Christmas act—last year they released their third non-holiday album, Letters from the Labyrinth—but the group remains most celebrated for the albums in their Christmas trilogy: Christmas Eve and Other Stories, The Christmas Attic and The Lost Christmas Eve.

Monday, Dec. 12
The Sleighriders @ Shank Hall, 7 p.m.
One of the Milwaukee music scene’s oldest holiday traditions, each December, Shank Hall hosts a massive jam session by a cast of local rock and blues musicians who go by the name of The Sleighriders. It’s a mystery who might perform every year, but recent years have seen Eddie Butts, Joe Hite, Sigmund Snopek, Greg Koch and Steve Cohen take the stage, along with members of bands like The Boogiemen, Bad Boy, Street Life and Blue Hand—more than three dozen musicians are expected to participate at this installment. Once again the money they raise will go to a good cause: All proceeds will be donated to the disabled children’s charity Variety of Wisconsin.

Tuesday, Dec. 13
Supersuckers w/ Jesse Dayton and Gallows Bound @ Shank Hall, 8 p.m.
For a quarter-century, Arizona’s Supersuckers have served as punk’s answer to cowboy hat-wearing, meat-and-potatoes American rock ’n’ roll. During their career, they formed an unlikely creative partnership with one of country’s greats: Willie Nelson, who they once backed on “The Tonight Show with Jay Leno.” In turn, Nelson did a guest stint on the title track of the Supersuckers’ 1997 Sub Pop album, Must’ve Been High, the band’s purest country record. On recent albums, though, including 2014’s Get The Hell and last year’s Holdin’ The Bag, the group has played down those country accents a bit in favor of a purer, punk-influenced hard rock sound.

Wednesday, Dec. 14
Celtic Woman w/ The Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra @ The Riverside Theater, 7:30 p.m.
It’s a busy week for the MSO. In addition to a pair of David Bowie tribute performances this weekend, the orchestra will also be backing Celtic Woman, a quartet who tackles classic ballads and Celtic standards (“Danny Boy” included). Onstage, the women sizzle and shine in perfect harmony, united by the lively fiddling of Máiréad Nesbitt. At this holiday-themed show, the group will draw from material featured on their four Christmas albums, including 2014’s O Christmas Tree.


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