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This Week in Milwaukee: Dec. 15-21

Dec. 13, 2016
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This Week in Milwaukee: The Bad Plus (Photo Courtesy of Josh Goleman)
Photo Credit: Josh Goleman

Thursday, Dec. 15

Panic! at the Disco w/ Kungs and Charli XCX @ The Rave, 7 p.m.
While most bands from the mid-’00s emo boom quickly faded from the spotlight, Panic! at the Disco’s following has only grown in recent years, despite a series of lineup changes and defections that left singer Brendon Urie its only original member. Like Fall Out Boy, the band has prospered largely by expanding its boundaries beyond pop-punk. The group’s latest album, Death of a Bachelor, dives head first into contemporary electronic styles while drawing liberally from pop and hip-hop as well. Those stylistic leaps have paid dividends for the band: It became their first number one album and earned them a Grammy nomination for Best Rock Album. For this 103.7 Kiss-FM “Kissmas Bash” show, the band is joined on the bill by French DJ Kungs and pop singer Charli XCX.

The Bad Plus @ The Back Room at Colectivo, 7:30 and 9:30 p.m.
The acoustic New York jazz trio The Bad Plus earned crossover attention for their deconstructed covers of unlikely rock songs—most famously Nirvana’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit.” But that attention has too often overshadowed their reputation as genuine jazz virtuosos—players with a knack for blurring the line between composition and improvisation. Recent albums have focused primarily on original numbers, but for their latest effort, It’s Hard, they return to covers. The album features interpretations of Yeah Yeah Yeahs’ “Maps,” Cyndi Lauper’s “Time After Time” and TV on the Radio’s “Staring at the Sun.” Thursday they do two shows in the Prospect Avenue Colectivo Coffee’s intimate Back Room venue.

‘Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone’ in Concert @ The Riverside Theater, 8 p.m.
Following in the footsteps of The Legend of Zelda and Pokémon, Harry Potter becomes the latest property to receive a fan-servicing orchestral treatment at the Riverside Theater this year. The Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra will perform John Williams’ score to the film Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone in its entirety, accompanied by a screening of the film. (Also Friday, Dec. 16 at 8 p.m. and Saturday, Dec. 17 at 1 and 8 p.m.)

Friday, Dec. 16

Willy Porter and Carmen Nickerson w/ Mike Mangione @ Turner Hall Ballroom, 8 p.m.
Part of what’s made guitarist Willy Porter one of Milwaukee’s most reliable, longtime live draws is his versatility. He can perform in any number of configurations; sometimes he’s solo, other time he’s backed by a full rock band. Lately he’s done some of his best work with singer Carmen Nickerson, who’s lent vocals to a few of his recent releases and appeared with him on NPR’s “A Prairie Home Companion.” The two have come together under the name Porter Nickerson for their new collaborative album, Bonfire to Ash, which features songs co-written by both artists. They play a release show for the album this Friday.

RISK! @ The Back Room at Colectivo Coffee, 8 p.m.
Unlike Ken Marino, Michael Ian Black, Thomas Lennon, Joe Lo Truglio and seemingly every other alum of MTV’s short-lived comedy show “The State,” Kevin Allison didn’t become an especially sought-after comic actor. He found a calling nonetheless, though, as the host of an unusual podcast called “RISK!” which invites guests to tell true stories they never thought they’d ever share in public—think of it like a dirtier, higher-stakes alternative to The Moth. Past participants have including Marc Maron, Sarah Silverman, Kevin Nealon, Dan Savage and Andy Dick, and while there’s no word on who exactly will be participating in this live recording of the podcast at the Back Room at Colectivo, you can expect to hear some uncomfortably funny anecdotes riffing on the night’s theme: “Eye-opening.”

Saturday, Dec. 17

Whips w/ Dramatic Lovers @ Cactus Club, 10 p.m.
Typically the first live performance by a new band isn’t much to get excited about—after all, new bands debut every week. But few have the credentials of Dramatic Lovers, the new group featuring members of some of Milwaukee’s best indie-rock bands from the last two decades, including Decibully, The Promise Ring and Maritime. For their inaugural show, they’ll support a known quantity: Milwaukee rock ’n’ roll greats Whips, one of the city’s fiercest live acts.

Time Lords’ Ball @ Turner Hall Ballroom, 7 p.m.
Much as the antagonists in an ’80s John Hughes movie might scoff, the war between jocks and nerds ended years ago, and these days nerds are the new cool kids. They even have their own nightlife scene, represented in Milwaukee by venues like St. Francis’ 42 Ale House, which hosts this Doctor Who-themed dance party at the Turner Hall Ballroom. It’ll feature music from Milwaukee DJs Bounce the DJ, DJ Khek and DJ Tony-Wan Kenobi, lasers and video projections, themed cocktails, a photo booth, lots of costumed super fans and so, so many in-jokes.

Sunday, Dec. 18

Mannheim Steamroller @ The Riverside Theater, 3 and 7 p.m.
Sometimes it’s fun to imagine a “Breaking Bad”-style turf war between the competing holiday rock bands Mannheim Steamroller and Trans-Siberian Orchestra. They could get into fist fights over who gets to play a given market on a given date and retaliate against each other by throwing Rudolf decorations through the windows of their tour buses and smashing each other’s Van de Graaff records. It’s not clear, exactly, what kind of relationship the two bands have with each other, but it is clear that, while there’s room in the market for both, Mannheim Steamroller was there first. They were the first band to update traditional Christmas music for New Age listeners with dramatic, heavily synthesized versions of staples like “Carol of the Bells” and “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen.”

Tuesday, Dec. 20

The 10th Annual Comet Holiday Craptacular @ Comet Café, 9 p.m.
The word “Craptacular” really doesn’t do this justice. For 10 years running, Comet Café has held an annual holiday party to celebrate its staff and regulars. Like a lot of bars and restaurants, Comet’s staff has deep ties to the city’s art and music scene, and some of them have prepared performances for the event (in the past this has included singing on tables). There will also be drink specials and raffle prizes, including 12 cases of Lakefront Beer.

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