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The New Pornographers put on a bright show at The Pabst Theater Thursday night.
The New Pornographers put on a bright show at The Pabst Theater Thursday night. (Photo: Benjamin Wick)

Indie rockers The New Pornographers deliver an evening of big sound

With a giant replica of their new album’s cover above them on the stage, The New Pornographers delivered a delirious set of extra-large pop during Thursday’s Pabst Theater performance.

But while some artists might direct that bigness to hair, lights, clothing changes, dance numbers and anything but the music, The New Pornographers saved it for their flab-free but massive sound (except for that big ass album cover, of course), which was heavy on thrills and loads of fun.

The now-veteran Canadian band, touring to support the highly touted "Brill Bruisers," featured its three most famous players (A.C. Newman, Neko Case and Dan Bejar) and played songs from across its catalog during the double-encore show – capped by a, uh, frothy take on "The Slow Descent into Alcoholism" from their 2000 debut album "Mass Romantic."

"Brill Bruisers" began the show, and its infectious "bo-bah’s" might have attendees chanting the refrain randomly – with or without the song playing – at a stoplight years from now. The throbbing, butt-shaker "Dancehall Domine" was a definite standout, one worthy of using the word infectious in back-to-back sentences. Bejar’s slow-building "War on the East Coast" – featuring harmonica from Newman – "Another Drug Deal of the Heart" and "Myriad Harbour" also delighted in the early-going.

Case, who was the recipient of "Neko!" cries throughout the night, shined on an emphatic take of "The Laws Have Changed." "Crash Years" showcased nice guitar interplay between Newman and guitarist Todd Fancey, and keyboardist Kathryn Calder took the vocal lead on the tender "Adventures in Solitude."

Bejar offered a good transition with the midtempo "Jackie," which implores listeners to "visualize success," while proclaiming that "the United States used to be a lot of fun." "Backstairs" was both moody and a workout.

Featuring Case, the classic "Mass Romantic" wildly concluded regulation before the band came back on stage. Band members offered limited ch…

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Dave Davies and his Turner Hall crowd got along just swimmingly Tuesday night.
Dave Davies and his Turner Hall crowd got along just swimmingly Tuesday night. (Photo: Benjamin Wick)

Kinks' Dave Davies' Turner Hall gig offers nothing to complain about

Lester Bangs’ "James Taylor Marked for Death" is no doubt popular bedtime reading this week in Milwaukee after the singer-songwriter disparaged – in front of an Illinois audience, no less – his recent Brew City audience for its supposedly "wooden" response to his alleged genius.

It’s highly unlikely Milwaukee will have to deal with any post-show digs from fellow Rock and Roll Hall of Famer Dave Davies, who delighted an appreciative crowd Tuesday night at Turner Hall.

In fact, Taylor – who Bangs imagined offing with a broken bottle of Ripple – might have "Fire and Rain," but he doesn’t have the full-frontal arsenal of songs like "I’m Not Like Everyone Else" (played at the beginning and end of the show) and "You Really Got Me" (played last) that the Kinks founder can use to easily decimate audiences.

Davies, who suffered a stroke in 2004, was in fantastic form and highly enthusiastic throughout the performance, which kicked off a tour in support of his new album, "Rippin’ UpTime." The album follows 2013’s "I Will Be Me," which saw him team with the likes of Ty Segall, Chris Spedding, The Bloody Hollies and The Jayhawks. Meanwhile, 2014 marks the 50th anniversary of The Kinks, and Davies and his brother and longtime sparring partner, Ray, continue to talk about the possibility of some sort of a reunion to mark the milestone (the band hasn’t played together since the mid ‘90s).

But whatever pans out for The Kinks, local fans were treated to an eclectic and energetic trip through the band’s and Davies’ solo catalog, featuring Davies and a top-notch supporting band that included drummer Dennis Diken from The Smithereens, as well as guitarist Jonathan Lea and bassist/keyboardist Tom Currier from The Jigsaw Seen.

Davies and the band seemed to hit their stride a few songs into the show with a rambunctious "She’s Got Everything." He then paid tribute to the modified amplifier that Davies used to achieve the legendary distorted guitar riff o…

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CZAR collection that will be shown this weekend at Aversa.
CZAR collection that will be shown this weekend at Aversa.

New York fashion meets Milwaukee's Broadway

World-class fashion designer Cesar Galindo lights up the biggest runways in New York. These days, he’s center stage on Broadway in Milwaukee’s Third Ward.

Skylight Music Theatre’s salon was packed last night as Galindo unveiled his original designs for Skylight’s upcoming production of Gioachino Rossini’s "Cinderella." He also offered an intimate fashion show of his latest contemporary line, CZAR, which was recently featured in Mercedes Benz Fashion Week.

Personal ties bring the Bravo Television fashion star to Milwaukee. Skylight’s artistic director  Viswa Subbaraman met Galindo years ago through a mutual friend. Every time they crossed paths, Galindo would ask when they could collaborate on a production. They found the perfect project, in a modern adaptation of Rossini’s opera "Cinderella (La Cenerentola)," in which the evil stepsisters are obsessed with fashion and Cinderella’s big night out is based on Truman Capote’s 1966 real-life Black and White Masquerade Ball.

"So here I am," Galindo said, "standing in front of you, commissioned to do the opening opera for the new season in Milwaukee. The synergy is fantastic. I can’t wait to see the production unfold."

According to the theatre's marketing director Jennifer Samuelson, it’s a storybook pairing for the Skylight.

"None of us could believe it," Samuelson said. "Then his sketches starting coming in, followed by boxes and boxes of shoes and clothes from his studio and warehouse, and we knew it was real." 

Skylight’s production of Cinderella runs Sept. 19 through Oct. 5. For more information on the upcoming production, go to the Skylight's website

In the meantime, you can meet Galindo this weekend. He’ll be at the CZAR trunk show at Aversa at Bayshore Town Center in Glendale on Saturday and Sunday.

"I just love to make beautiful clothing, " he said, "and my muse is you, as a woman." 

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R&B and soul legend Bobby Womack died last week at the age of 70.
R&B and soul legend Bobby Womack died last week at the age of 70.

Remembering R&B/soul legend Bobby Womack

A true R&B and soul legend, Bobby Womack died last week at the age of 70.

Womack played African World Festival here in Milwaukee maybe 18 years ago. It was a hot muggy night, not unlike tonight.

That year, I was lucky enough to cover concerts by both Otis Rush and Womack on successive evenings. As I recall, there had been some trouble at Summerfest that year with young people and guns. Eventually, Summerfest bought in metal detectors at the entrance gate (to be fair, historically Summerfest has an incredibly low number of incidents).

By this point, Womack had been off the charts for a while, but his legacy was very much intact. His early hits with his brothers, as The Valentinos, under the wing of Sam Cooke (he would later marry Cooke’s widow after the soul superstar was murdered) and later collaborating with Sly Stone secured his place.

On that night, other stages featured acts ranging from smooth-groove oldies to urban contemporary. As Womack was working his magic on the crowd, whose median age I would guess at well above 40 years old, there came a series of loud pops at a nearby stage. My guess is Womack never heard this onstage.

As a wave of young people came toward us, rapidly surging toward Womack’s audience, what struck me was the look in the eyes of older folks who feared what may be happening as they tried their best to get out of the way. Many could not move very fast. If you have never been in a crowd situation like that is, it really is helpless.

It was hard to tell if the young folks really knew what happened as some appeared to be fleeing while others were running and laughing. But the look in the eyes of those around me said, "This is real."

Sensing that something serious was going down, Womack brought the band to a halt and gently began playing Sam Cooke’s hymn "A Change is Gonna Come." The chaos peaked and then the audience realized the song Womack was playing. A church-like calm came over the audience as order was restored. We owed …

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