National Poetry Slam
UW Campus & downtown venues, through Aug. 9
An international contingent of wordsmiths, 76 teams in all, vie in the brash phenomenon that is competitive spoken-word poetry. Ahead of next weekend's finals at the Overture Center, prelimary rounds take place Aug. 5-7 at various downtown nightspots. Another component is the Lyrics on the Lake Festival (Aug. 6-8), held in the UW's Humanities building, with workshops for poets on topics ranging from starting a slam to managing depression. Information's at nps2008.com.
Habib Koite and Bamada
Majestic Theatre, 8 pm
Malian singer/guitarist Habib Koite is an Afro-beat powerhouse. His high, soulful vocals are only eclipsed by his remarkable fret-work. It'll be a treat to to catch him with a full band in such an intimate venue. Mali transplant Tani Diakite opens.
BMR4 and Nancy King
100 Block of State Street, 5 pm
The annual Jazz at Five series kicks off its 15th year with performances by the hard swinging, pop- and R&B-inflected Chicago quartet BMR4 and veteran singer Nancy King. The latter's a sophisticated, Grammy-nominated improviser with a gift for shedding new light on familiar standards. Freebie of the week.
UW Memorial Union Terrace, 6 pm
Reggae-friendly garage rockers the Takebacks celebrate the release of their refreshingly unpredictable new CD, Call Collect and Ask for...The Takebacks, in front of the wrist-bending Terrace faithful. Crane Your Swan Neck open.
Wisconsin Chamber Orchestra
Sauk Trails Plaza, 7 pm
If you're sad that the orchestra's Concerts on the Square have concluded, buck up. In its west-side Concert in the Park, maestro Andrew Sewell's ensemble performs music with violinist Paul Hauer and cellist Taylor Skiff.
We Are Scientists
High Noon Saloon, 8 pm
Another in a long line of American acts that enjoy more success in the U.K. than in their homeland, Brooklyn's We Are Scientists have evolved into a dramatic, Killers-style pop-rock act that encourages the ladies (and gents, for that matter) to dance the night away. Oxford Collapse and Brighton MA open.
Bodies of Water
Cafe Montmartre, 9 pm
Bridging the divide between pointy-headed prog and tuneful folk-rock, the boy-girl membership of L.A.'s Bodies of Water utilize choral vocals and rousing beats with aplomb. You may love 'em or hate 'em, but they won't leave you indifferent. Port O'Brien also appear.
Loft (Lussier Teen Center), 7 pm
No doubt Ace Enders' earnest power pop and shiny alternative sounds will have their fresh-faced audience swooning by the end of the first verse. They roll off the Cute Is What We Aim For tour for this Wisconsin one-off. Danger Radio, Powerspace, and Fighting Aurora open.
Cafe Montmartre, 9 pm
On his deliciously fey pop-rock effort Loose Big, the former Clem Snide front dude hums and sighs as if his life depended on it. But will all those quirky emotions translate live?