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Milwaukee's Daily Magazine for Wednesday, Aug. 20, 2014

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British band Keane put on an unforgettable performance at The Pabst Saturday night.
British band Keane put on an unforgettable performance at The Pabst Saturday night. (Photo: CJ Foeckler)

Keane dazzles The Pabst with a full spectrum of sound

In front of a near-capacity crowd at The Pabst Theater on Saturday night, British band Keane delivered an impressive performance that spanned its whole catalog.

Touring in support of its new album, "Strangeland," released last month, the band found the perfect balance between incorporating new material while playing the established hits from its previous three albums.

When lead singer Tom Chaplin asked The Pabst crowd if it liked the new album, he received a large cheer. Smiling, Chaplin said that he felt safe asking such a question in a room full of Keane fans. When one fan toward the front of the stage screamed out a request at Chaplin, he coolly replied, "You'll get it eventually, don't worry."

The four-piece band is a bit different from its contemporaries in that the songs are piano- and/or synthesizer-driven. This has also led to some criticism that Keane's songs all sound alike, but while a few blend together, the overall set had a great flow that was very pleasing.

Vocally and musically, the band sounded exceptionally crisp and this definitely was the type of show that could easily have been recorded for a concert CD or DVD. Dynamic lighting, including a few blasts of intense strobe lights, added to the drama of the performance.

The biggest highlight from the set was the audience sing-along to "This Is The Last Time" from Keane's first album, "Hopes and Fears." "Everybody's Changing," "Is It Any Wonder," "Bend And Break" and "Somewhere Only We Know" were among the songs that drew some of the biggest reactions from the crowd.

The first level of The Pabst all stood, while the balcony and mezzanine areas remained seated throughout the general admission show. That didn't mean that the upper levels lacked die-hard fans, as it included a group that raised the U.K.'s Union Jack flag after almost every song.

The signature move of the night came when Chaplin approached the edge of the stage and punctuated the chorus of a faster-paced song by throwing his …

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"Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter" hits theaters today.
"Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter" hits theaters today.

Fourscore? More like a score of two for "Abraham Lincoln"

Of all the crazy, nonsensical movie ideas to come out of Hollywood recently, "Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter" (not to be confused with Spielberg's upcoming Lincoln biopic, though I doubt many will) is easily one of the most polarizing. After seeing the trailer, audiences split into two sides: those who think it's absurdly brilliant and those who think it's an idiotic use of one of history's finest leaders.

Personally, I'm happy to see writers starting to use my fifth grade notebook doodles for inspiration. Like my old grade school scribbles served as a shot of goofy fun during a dull lecture, "Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter" could have provided the same ludicrous glee in a sea of generic action blockbusters. Instead, it's just as lifeless as the vamps Honest Abe is vanquishing.

The plot of the movie is nicely laid out in the title. Abraham Lincoln (played by relative newcomer Benjamin Walker) hunts vampires, preferably with an ax. He starts as a young man, clumsily hunting down the bloodsucker that murdered his mother.

After that early failure and some training from a friend (Dominic Cooper), Abe grows his reputation as an assassin and a politician, leading to his presidency and consequent struggle with the South, which was apparently filled with fanged demons. He proceeds to emancipate the slaves, as well as vampires' limbs from their bodies, in the hopes of saving the country.

Screenwriter Seth Grahame-Smith, who also wrote the novel of the same name (as well as this summer's equally bloodless vampire saga "Dark Shadows"), helped birth the cultural phenomenon of historical hybrids with the 2009 novel "Pride and Prejudice and Zombies." They seem clever, or at least enjoyable, on paper: combine something seemingly dry with a current pop cultural meme topic, and let the wacky hijinks ensue.

The film translation of "Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter" struggles to bring the second part of the formula to the screen. The movie is surpr…

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Eric Hutchinson and his band made quite an impression Thursday night at Turner Hall.
Eric Hutchinson and his band made quite an impression Thursday night at Turner Hall. (Photo: Melissa Miller)
Hutchinson gave a solid performance, but his cell phone-lit encore was the highlight of the evening.
Hutchinson gave a solid performance, but his cell phone-lit encore was the highlight of the evening. (Photo: Melissa Miller)

Eric Hutchinson lights up Turner Hall

In Thursday night's show at the Turner Hall Ballroom, Eric Hutchinson delighted his fans and managed to have an encore that overshadowed his set.

The stage was decorated with a large city skyline backdrop, accented by colored lights comparable to the one illuminating the Marquette Interchange at night. Backed by a band consisting of drums, bass and keyboard, Hutchinson entered after a musical interlude that felt like something straight out of a late-night talk show.

Immediately it was clear how at ease Hutchinson was as he moved around the stage and danced while playing his guitar. Vocally and musically, Hutchinson is very reminiscent of Jason Mraz, so it makes sense that the two have toured together in the past. Also like Mraz, Hutchinson's fan base consists of many dedicated female fans that made their support known throughout Thursday.

Buoyed by the strong support from the audience after playing a few songs, Hutchinson said, "This is like having a huge lead in a basketball game. We just have to play our game and keep it going." He then said that he would be playing a number of songs from his recent release, "Moving Up Living Down," and that those who knew the words were welcome to sing along.

For those who weren't as confident with the lyrics, Hutchinson gave his blessing for them to simply move their mouths to make it seem like they knew the songs. The song which garnered the biggest reaction was "Watching You Watch Him," the single from the aforementioned new album. With Turner Hall split between those standing in the front half and those sitting in the back half, this song prompted many of those seated to get up and move around.

Hutchinson also showed a keen sense of humor by improvising a Caribbean-sounding tune with repeated lyrics about how it felt like the band was playing on a cruise ship. His introduction for the song "I'm Not There Yet" also got laughs from the crowd. Hutchinson explained that he wrote the song in Paris, France, recorded i…

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Pixar's "Brave" is on its way to theaters Friday, but these five predecessors are already classics.
Pixar's "Brave" is on its way to theaters Friday, but these five predecessors are already classics.

Five best Pixar movies

In looking back on some of my previous articles, I noticed that I've been pretty mean to Pixar. I spent most of the opening paragraph of my "Madagascar 3" review lamenting Pixar's lone mistake, "Cars 2," and then put "How to Train Your Dragon" on my Father's Day list instead of "Finding Nemo" just to rub it in.

It seems rude of me, especially considering that Pixar has been one of the most reliably fantastic movie producers since its debut in 1995. Six of the studio's twelve films have won Best Animated Feature, and only one ("Ratatouille") hasn't finished in the box office top ten of its respective year.

With "Brave" coming out this Friday, it seems like a good time to repent by looking back at the studio's finest moments.

5. "Wall-E"

"Wall-E," Pixar's environmental sci-fi saga, is arguably the company's least accessible feature for kids and adults alike. The main characters are mute robots who communicate with various bleeps and chirps, the only human characters are gelatinous blobs who can't move without a levitating chair, and long stretches of the film involve no dialogue whatsoever, a rarity in the usually hyperactive animated film market.

There's something incredible, however, about a studio as successful as Pixar willing to take a gigantic risk like "Wall-E." Of course, it helps when the charming robots have better chemistry together than most humans in romantic comedies, and the visuals are beautifully detailed. It's somehow hard to love and easy to love at the same time.

4. "Toy Story"

Seventeen years later, it's admittedly hard to watch "Toy Story," Pixar's debut feature, without noticing the film's age. Technology has progressed so much since 1995 that the once state-of-the-art animation now seems shockingly dated; textures, such as clothing and pavement, appear flat, and the characters' movements, especially the humans, seem very stiff. Luckily, the rest of "Toy Story" is as fresh and delightful as it was when it firs…

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