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Bloc Party at The Pabst Theater, May 29, 2013.
Bloc Party at The Pabst Theater, May 29, 2013. (Photo: CJ Foeckler)

Bloc Party gets out of control

At the end of a 2007 performance, Bloc Party vowed that it would return to Milwaukee. On Wednesday night at The Pabst, the British band delivered on that promise but also came off a little too rehearsed at times.

Opening the show with "So Here We Are," Bloc Party was immediately embraced by The Pabst Theater crowd, who filled the first level of the venue. Surprisingly, the balcony was closed for this performance, a decision which created some tight spacing especially close to the stage. Bloc Party then shifted to "Mercury" from the 2008 album "Intimacy," forecasting a trend that they would follow all night, jumping back and forth within their discography.

Early in the set, during a performance of the raucous "Team A," drummer Matt Long shed the Nirvana shirt he was wearing and went bare-chested for the remainder of the show. Later, during the band’s performance of "Blue Light," frontman Kele Okereke implored the audience to sing along. "I can’t hear you! I still can’t hear you! Come on, Milwaukee!"

Shockingly, less than an hour into the set, Bloc Party thanked the crowd and departed the stage. This was one of the most blatant applause-grabs I’ve ever witnessed. If you’re going to go through the silly motion of pretending the show is over, at least do it at a point it would seem plausible. Of course the band returned, declaring that the return was "round two," but that this would be the final round.

This so called "second round" was far less pleasant in the audience as some of The Pabst crowd became way more aggressive. Suddenly there were mini mosh pits and a few attempts at crowd surfing. One audience member was passed onto the stage, but was quickly returned to the crowd. The Pabst Theater really doesn’t lend itself to this type of rowdy behavior and not surprisingly, everyone who was passed around ended up having their ride end with a vicious fall.

Bloc Party then thanked the Milwaukee audience and once again left the stage. Despite playing well-…

The worker of tomorrow.
The worker of tomorrow. (Photo:

The robots are coming!

I first saw a row of robots when I took my technical writing class to a Milwaukee manufacturer. The metal employees were spraying red paint on snow plows. The tour guide explained that using robots meant humans didn’t have to worry about unhealthy fumes; the company didn’t have to worry about paid vacations. Wow, we marveled.

On Feb. 15, 2012, President Obama came to Master Lock in Milwaukee and touted the return of manufacturing. He reported the plant was "for the first time in 15 years, operating at full capacity."

Not said? Full capacity meant roughly one-third the number of employees. Our prized Harley-Davidson has been making news in 2013 based on revamping its York, Pa., facility. It produces more motorcycles with robots, but hundreds of people lost jobs. The stock is flying high. Harley has plans for Wisconsin facilities.

I am solidly behind any manufacturing company turning to robots; what choice do they have? I wince every time someone, usually a politician, waves the flag and shouts we’re bringing manufacturing back to the U.S. The only labor force cheaper than a country with a billion people is a country that uses robots. Those metal workers stay on task 24/7/365. The price break encouraging American manufacturers to ship thousands of miles away is no longer a break. So, yes, indeed we’ll bring manufacturing home - but not the jobs. Someone needs to be honest about this.

Harley CEO Keith Wandell said (and I believe him): "None of us get up in the morning with the intention of ruining anybody’s life," but losing a job is tantamount. Think of any job you consider safe from robots. I’d urge you to think again. About the only one I can conjure is the hair stylist. No robot is cutting my hair even if robots are doing heart and cataract surgery. (Kevin M., you’re welcome for that plug.)

To me, this is THE issue, THE question for our time. The robots are coming in massive numbers. How can we get ahead of them and figure out what we’re going to…

Fibonacci Sequence will be joining Il Castello di Alante.
Fibonacci Sequence will be joining Il Castello di Alante.

Italian prog rockers appear tomorrow night in Milwaukee

If one were to imagine a location for a once-in-a-lifetime chance to see a legendary Italian progressive rock band in an extremely intimate setting, you might conjure images of exotic prog festivals in Verona, France or even the world-renowned Baja Prog festival in Mexico.

I doubt that Superior Street in Bay View would make the list.

But if you’re a prog music fan with an adventurous spirit, Friday night brings that once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to the tiny Club Garibaldi, 2501 S. Superior St., as the Italian Progressive Rock band Il Castello di Atlante stops in town for a performance the likes of are rarely seen in the good ol’ Midwest. Milwaukee-based prog rockers Fibonacci Sequence open the show.

"When it comes to prog rock, Italian Prog is considered to be some of the best in the world," said Mark Krueger, host of WMSE’s "Planet Prog," the longest continuously running prog rock radio show in the world. "For a band of this caliber to come and play Milwaukee is fantastic, and if you’re a prog fan, you should not miss this show."

Il Castello di Alante plays genuine Italian symphonic prog. Lyrics are strictly in Italian, but the precise and complex music speaks clearly in a language that every prog fan can appreciate.

So how exactly does an Italian band end up playing Friday night in Bay View?

It just so happens that Krueger and Daniel DuChaine, owner of Rush-Mor Records in Bay View heard that the band was making the arduous drive from a prog fest in Mexico to another festival in Canada and convinced it to stop in Milwaukee and play a show on the way.

"This is their only show in the U.S. We’re very lucky to have them play here," said DuChaine. "It’s rare to see a band like this play live outside some of the world’s top prog festivals – I’m excited about the show and hopefully prog fans here in Milwaukee will realize how cool this is and turn out."

Doors open at 7 p.m. and Fibonacci Sequence goes on at 8 p.m. Advance tickets are $17 at Rush…

As a stand-up comedian, Tracy Morgan has gained a reputation as someone whose shows are fraught with controversy.
As a stand-up comedian, Tracy Morgan has gained a reputation as someone whose shows are fraught with controversy. (Photo: Erik Ljung)

Morgan provides laughs and a few uncomfortable moments

As a stand-up comedian, Tracy Morgan has gained a reputation as someone whose shows are fraught with controversy. This perception became reality during Morgan’s show at The Pabst Theater on Sunday night.

After having previous shows in Milwaukee cancelled, Morgan brought his "Excuse My French" tour in front of an appreciative crowd on Sunday night. Looking noticeably larger in a shiny purple shirt, Morgan addressed his weight gain and said he had to lose some since he was being mistaken for Cedric the Entertainer. The vast majority of the show was dedicated to graphic talk about sex and Morgan’s complicated views of marriage and women.

While Morgan made a point to state that previous audiences and groups had misconstrued his act as misogynistic, there were certainly elements to his set that gave weight to this interpretation. The element that stands out was his possessive take on marriage and how sexually open a spouse should be. However, Morgan somewhat counteracted this later by strongly speaking out against any violence towards women.

Midway through the show, after Morgan talked about the possibility of hooking up in Milwaukee, an inebriated woman made her way down the aisle to the front of the stage. After some brief chatter, she then quickly exposed her breasts to Morgan, much to his delight.

Even though security then escorted her to the lobby, she was somehow allowed to remain at the show and eventually made it back to her seat.

This was a mistake as at the end of the night, Morgan implored her to return to the front of the stage and flash the crowd what he had seen earlier. She did return and thankfully, after failing to successfully negotiate a pact with Morgan where he would have also exposed himself, the woman decided against the public display but let Morgan have another peek.

It was really disappointing to see Morgan egg her on and provide encouragement, so a wave a relief was felt when she, thankfully, didn’t go through with exposing herself to…