Tag Archives: clubs

The Sets List: Bruce Springsteen, The Werks, Carly Rae Jepsen, Finish Ticket and Vinyl Theatre, Basia Bulat,

Bruce Springsteen

7:30 p.m. March 3 at the BMO Harris Bradley Center, Milwaukee. $55 to $150. bmoharrisbradleycenter.com.

What do you say about the Boss that hasn’t been said? The 66-year-old legend is one of the greatest artists touring today, four decades after his biggest hits, and he’s certainly a fan of Milwaukee — this appearance marks his eighth at the Bradley Center, more than any other artist. This particular tour is a commemoration of one of his greatest albums — The River, celebrating its 35th anniversary — so fans should expect a show that focuses on that classic early-1980s era in Springsteen’s career.

Finish Ticket and Vinyl Theatre

7:30 p.m. March 5 at The Rave, Milwaukee. $15. therave.com.

It’s been awhile since Milwaukee had a band go national, but Vinyl Theatre looks like they might be on the edge of breaking the streak. The trio started making waves when they opened for labelmates Twenty One Pilots in 2014 and 2015, alongside the release of their debut LP Electrogram. This time around, they’re appearing in Milwaukee with co-headliners Finish Ticket, a similarly indie rock act hailing from San Francisco. 

Basia Bulat

7 p.m. March 9 at High Noon Saloon, Madison. $13, $15 day of show. high-noon.com.

7 p.m. March 10 at The Back Room @ Colectivo on Prospect, Milwaukee. $14. pabsttheater.org.

The 10 songs that became singer/songwriter Basia Bulat’s fourth album, Good Advice, started as slow acoustic breakup songs. But after three 18-hour drives to Louisville, Kentucky, from her native Toronto, and the guidance of My Morning Jacket frontman Jim James, those 10 songs were transformed into resilient, bold pop songs. It’s not summertime, but this album and tour should feel like fireworks nonetheless. 

Carly Rae Jepsen

7 p.m. March 11 at Turner Hall Ballroom, Milwaukee. $28. pabsttheater.com.

If you’re a pop fan who only knows Carly Rae Jepsen for “Call Me Maybe,” consider your privileges temporarily revoked. With her 2015 follow-up, Emotion, Jepsen put out one of the year’s most critically acclaimed pop albums, heavily inspired by the stars and music styles of the 1980s — and none of you picked it up. You can make up for it when she comes through town on her Gimme Love tour, dedicated to her hooky but heart-driven breed of music. Americana trio Fairground Saints opens.

The Werks

9:30 p.m. March 11 at High Noon Saloon, Madison. $12, $15 day of show. high-noon.com.

With a decade of performing together under their belt, The Werks have developed their own musical style, a sort of psychedelic dance rock. But as any jam band fan knows, there’s not much more than that you can say about a jam band if you haven’t experienced a night with one yet. It’s a good gamble to make, though — The Werks promises that each concert will be different based on the audience energy, so if you show up ready to party, they will too. Big Something and Madison quartet Ifdakar open.

San Francisco uses medical marijuana proceeds for gun buybacks

San Francisco police say 91 weapons were taken off the street in a gun buyback event in which guns were bought with cash from medical marijuana dispensaries.

Police Officer Grace Gatpandan said the haul included three assault rifles, including an AR¡15 military style rifle worth thousands of dollars that was bought back for $200.

The San Francisco Chronicle reports police, pot clubs and community groups formed an unusual partnership to organize the event. 

Three of the city’s two dozen medical marijuana dispensaries donated $50,000 to underwrite the buyback. 

Any money not spent on the weapons would go toward funding after-school jobs and helping the families of violent crime victims.

Indiana school denies gay-straight club, ACLU sues

The American Civil Liberties Union and the ACLU of Indiana filed a lawsuit on Dec. 23 on behalf of three students at Indiana’s North Putnam High School who have been denied the right to form a Gay-Straight Alliance club during non-instructional time at school.

The ACLU says the school’s denial violates U.S. law and the U.S. Constitution.

The gay-straight alliances — there are many in schools across the country — are student-run extracurricular clubs that bring together lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and allied students to support each other and promote respect and equality. LGBT students at the North Putnam school have frequently been harassed and wanted to form the GSA to provide a place to educate the community and support vulnerable students.

The school, which allows other non-school-sponsored clubs and activities to meet, such as the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, Key Club and Best Buddies, has denied recognition of the GSA club for more than a year. The students followed all the school’s required procedures outlined in its student handbook to establish the club, including securing a faculty member to supervise the group, according to the ACLU.

On Nov. 20, after a year of stalling, the North Putnam School Board voted to bar the club from forming, despite the fact that other clubs are not made to pass a school board vote.

The ACLU maintains that the school’s denial of the GSA club violates students’ First Amendment rights and the federal Equal Access Act. The students are seeking to have their application for the club approved and to allow it all rights similar to those of other extracurricular clubs.

“The law is clear in this matter,” said Ken Falk, legal director at the ACLU of Indiana. “There is no excuse for the school district’s intransigence, which is causing real harm to its students.”

The ACLU of Indiana was successful in reversing a similar decision by a school in the town of Munster in July.

“The actions of the school district in clear violation of federal law leave the most vulnerable students at North Putnam without critically needed support,” said Chase Strangio, attorney in the ACLU Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Project.

The case, Gay-Straight Alliance at North Putnam High School, et al. v. North Putnam Community School Corporation, was filed on Dec. 23, in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Indiana, Terre Haute Division.

Sochi’s gay scene thrives despite Putin’s crackdown

A man named Ravil catapults onto the dance floor and starts stomping out the lezginka, the arrogant rooster strut of the Chechen national dance.

Ravil’s spontaneous performance is made even more unusual by the fact he’s in one of the two gay clubs in Sochi, the southern Russian town that will host the Winter Olympics amid Vladimir Putin’s harsh crackdown on gays. The morality campaign – centered on a law banning gay “propaganda” – has threatened to overshadow the games as it provokes an international outcry.

Paradoxically, Sochi is a far cry from the conservative lifestyle that the president is trying to promote.

At club Mayak, for example, the dancers are as diverse as the city itself: a Muslim who is a former market butcher, an Armenian who owns a strip club in a nearby town, a Ukrainian who loves to sing like Whitney Houston and dress like Adele.

And the men behind Mayak are hopeful that Sochi can remain the exception to the rule as its entrepreneurial, anything-goes crowd prepares to welcome the world.

“This is a resort town,” says Andrei Tenichev, the owner. “We have a saying: Money doesn’t smell of anything.”

Tenichev moved to the south from the bustling boomtown of Moscow when he saw that Sochi desperately needed another gay hangout. Opening Mayak was a no-brainer – “money lying on the ground,” he says – and even on a rainy Monday in September the club’s cabaret show attracted at least 70 guests.

The club owner, who worked in a gay bar in Moscow before opening Mayak eight years ago, says the climate for his line of business is even better in Sochi. In Moscow, some liquor brands refused to sell to the bar, saying: “A gay bar isn’t our style.”

“(In Sochi) we sell more expensive liquor than anywhere else in this town,” Tenichev proudly says.

He expects tacit cooperation with the local government to last at least through the Olympics in February. The Russian Olympic Committee has not made any trouble for the club, he says, because “they don’t want the slightest scandal” ahead of the games. But he also hopes that gay culture in Sochi has a better chance of surviving than in other parts of Russia, despite Putin’s crackdown.

The city was a gay hub in Soviet times, a fact facilitated by the Soviet Union’s closed borders, an easygoing southern temperament and, for many visitors, a healthy distance from family and friends back home – giving the place a “What-happens-in-Sochi-stays-in-Sochi” appeal.

Valery Kosachenko, an enormous man in a Hawaiian T-shirt and tiny rain boots, is a regular at Mayak. He was born in Azerbaijan and spent much of his life working in a cafeteria in Novy Urengoy, a city on the subarctic tundra most known for its bountiful gas fields. Every year since the early 1980s, Kosachenko and his Ukrainian truck driver boyfriend would make the liberating trip down south.

Kosachenko, 56, still gets misty-eyed over Soviet-era gay culture, where gays would gather under the watchful eyes of the local Lenin statue. They referred to it as Grandma Lena, a disgruntled but beloved patron saint of their nightly romps.

Homosexuality was a federal crime in Russia until 1993, but in Soviet times cafe owners were tacitly glad to garner a reputation as a gay hangout: It brought extra cash flooding in, and a few extra bribes were enough to keep the police at bay.

According to Kosachenko, public affection with other men was easier than it is now. In his opinion, the laidback lifestyle and southern effusiveness for which Sochi was known meant that few people interpreted such casual displays as immoral – partly because of a widespread ignorance about homosexuality.

“Sochi is a multinational city, they’re relaxed about everyone,” he said. “And before, people didn’t know anything about it (homosexuality), and so no one thought much of a hug or putting your arm around someone.”

The ethnic diversity applies to Mayak itself, where Tenichev estimates that over 30 percent of his clientele is from the Caucasus – the mountainous ethnic patchwork that encompasses Georgia, Armenia, and much of Russia’s restive south. Next to Halloween, the club’s biggest events are its “Caucasian Nights” – in which dancers dress up like big-eyed Armenian girls or Chechen warriors.

Ravil, the lezginka dancer who had just turned 29, sat in the back of the club with three dozen roses in his lap and held hands with Sasha, his boyfriend. Neither gave their surnames in Russia’s current homophobic climate.

“There’s a tolerance here – both in terms of ethnicity and orientation,” said Sasha. “But you see for yourself what kind of laws our government is passing, how people relate to us, how religion relates to us. The iron curtain starts here.”

Sochi, however, isn’t an escape for everyone. Many gays who grew up here are chained to the same family and social pressures as in any other Russian provincial town.

Vlad Slavsky, 17, realized he was gay two years ago. He didn’t tell anyone at school, but his classmates found out – and he thinks they may have hacked his social network account.

“In school there’s a prison mentality, they live by prison rules,” he said, describing more than 10 physical attacks near his home and constant taunts from other schoolmates. He now carries pepper spray and takes a taxi if he’s coming home late.

But those at Mayak manage to live fluid and flexible lives.

While Mayak’s regulars have been able to adapt, they’re hardly activists. Baklykov said he was “apolitical” and didn’t want to be involved in the LGBT movement in its present state because he believes “it doesn’t have a leader.”

And while Sochi still serves as a refuge for Russian gays, the growing conservatism of the Russian public has meant that many find it easier – and cheaper – to travel abroad. Those who are left tend to be older or poorer.

Tenichev says that the number of gay visitors is naturally dropping, which has meant opening Mayak’s  doors more and more often to other visitors – in particular to straight women.

“It’s hard nowadays to call this a gay club,” he said, noting that the average age of the gay visitors is increasing, and is now easily over 30.

“I’m drawn by what’s abroad,” said Kosachenko, who described a recent trip to the Canary Islands as mind-blowing. “But this is my own, and I’m used to it. Here I feel at home, so I’ll learn to adapt.”

Marines: Spouse clubs must admit same-sex spouses

The Marine Corps has advised its legal staff that spouses clubs operating on its installations must admit same-sex spouses if they wish to remain on the bases.

It’s a step that the other service branches have not yet announced as they grapple with how to accommodate same-sex couples following repeal of the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy that barred gays and lesbians from serving openly.

Underscoring the challenges, the Marines’ legal advisory — obtained by The Associated Press — refers to an ongoing controversy at the Army’s Fort Bragg in North Carolina where the officers’ spouses club has denied admission to the wife of a lesbian officer.

The Marine Corps commandant’s Staff Judge Advocate, in an email to legal offices throughout the corps, said the Fort Bragg events had “caused quite a stir” and cautioned, “We do not want a story like this developing in our backyard.”

The memo noted that spouses clubs and various other private institutions are allowed to operate on bases only if they adhere to a non-discrimination policy encompassing race, religion, gender, age, disability and national origin.

“We would interpret a spouses club’s decision to exclude a same-sex spouse as sexual discrimination because the exclusion was based upon the spouse’s sex,” the memo said.

A Marine Corps spokesman, Capt. Eric Flanagan, said the Marines cannot directly control the actions of independent organizations such as spouses’ clubs, but added, “We expect that all who are interested in supporting Marine Corps Family Readiness would be welcome to participate and will be treated with dignity and respect.”

The Defense Department has not issued similar guidance covering all service branches, and for now is taking the stance that the Fort Bragg spouses club is conforming with the existing rules because the non-discrimination clause does not extend to sexual orientation.

Stephen Peters of the American Military Partner Association, which advocates on behalf of partners and spouses of lesbian and gay service members, praised the Marine Corps — which had been the service branch most uneasy about repeal of don’t ask, don’t tell.

“The Marine Corps putting its best foot forward is great news,” he said. “They’re being proactive about this.”

Peters said his organization would urge the Pentagon to implement a military-wide policy that would open all spouses clubs to same-sex spouses.

“You can’t have different standards with the different branches,” he said.

Peters’ organization has been one of several groups advocating on behalf of Ashley Broadway, the wife of Fort Bragg-based Lt. Col. Heather Mack, after Broadway was denied admittance into the officers’ spouses club.

The club has said it would reconsider its membership policies at an upcoming meeting.