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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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Milwaukee's Dogs in Ecstasy played at the New Music KNE stage on the last day of Summerfest.
Milwaukee's Dogs in Ecstasy played at the New Music KNE stage on the last day of Summerfest.

Dogs in Ecstasy helps close out Summerfest

Milwaukee grunge/punk trio Dogs in Ecstasy is only a year and a half old but has quickly created a strong presence on the local music scene through plenty of shows and active social media accounts (mainly Twitter).

Despite a crowd that was a little sparse Sunday evening at Summerfest's New Music KNE Stage, the band played a high-energy show that featured most of the music it has released so far.

Songs like "Buzz," "My Brain is Killing Me" and "E-cig" all have pithy, clever lyrics that on this night were lost to a poor sound system. That muddy mix was the show's only downfall.

The band's stage presence was laid back with attention focused on their instruments rather than the crowd. That isn't to say that the show wasn't enjoyable; the band's rhythms are instantly engaging and addictive.

Despite the sound issue, Dogs in Ecstasy's musical skills can carry it wherever it goes. And anyway, sometimes you just need to hear a song called "My Brain is Killing Me."