Weekend Agenda: Oct. 3-4
Three highlights of the weekend's entertainment calendar
David Cross is known for a lot of things: Mr. Show, Freak Show, Arrested Development, and calling out Larry The Cable Guy, among others. But throughout his career, between acting and writing gigs, he has always returned to stand-up. (Even after his cash-in role in Alvin And The Chipmunks, which certainly says something about his love for the stage.) Cross’ leftist, politically charged humor has earned him comparisons to Bill Hicks and Lenny Bruce; he shares with them a similar wit and a head-shaking frustration at right-wing values. It’s been years since his last comedy album, 2004’s It’s Not Funny—though he just released a book called I Drink For A Reason—so expect heaps of new material tonight at Riverside Theater.
Umphrey’s McGee travels much the same path as hundreds of jam bands, but the Chicago sextet tempers its approach with touches of late-period Steely Dan and Robert Fripp-ish guitar arpeggios. Which isn’t to say that fans of Phish and the Dead can’t still twirl and groove to their heart’s content—though Umphrey’s McGee firmly states in the liner notes of 2007’s Bottom Half that too much work went into the songs to aimlessly play whatever comes to mind. But wait: The double-disc live set Jimmy Stewart 2007, according to its press release, is entirely improvised. The Schrödinger’s Cat of jam bands appears here behind 2009's complex Mantis, which was its first to be entirely composed inside the studio. Umphrey’s McGee plays tonight at The Rave/Eagles Ballroom.
The stirring tunes on New Jersey band The Gaslight Anthem’s 2008 album, The ’59 Sound, kicked up a lot of excitement last year, as its Springsteen-meets-Against Me! sound is certainly of the moment. Granted, with everyone from The Killers to The Hold Steady picking up Boss comparisons in recent years, it’s natural to roll your eyes, but The Gaslight Anthem actually carries that downtrodden-and-determined spirit without disgracing it or overdoing it. Tunes like “Old White Lincoln” and “Film Noir” temper the band’s punk-rock side with a surprisingly warm influence of soul. The band's surprise success has kept it on the road for much of the year—this is its second Milwaukee show in six months—but there are plans to start work on a new record by the end of '09. Arrive early Sunday at Turner Hall for The Loved Ones, whose rootsy punk segues well with the headliners, and whose 2009 EP, Distractions, is one of the year's best.