Mono, Killer Mike, Beatallica, “Fire At Sea,” and more events of note in Madison this week. | By Scott Gordon, Chris Lay, Erica Motz, Mike Noto, Grant Phipps, Chali Pittman, Joel Shanahan, and David Wolinsky
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THURSDAY APRIL 20
Music For 18 Musicians. Overture Center, 7 p.m. (free)
Since the 1976 premiere of Steve Reich’s longform, minimalist masterpiece “Music For 18 Musicians,” its influence has reached everyone from prog-rock innovators King Crimson to sonic seafarer Brian Eno to indie-folk godhead Sufjan Stevens. Leave it to Madison-based, avant-classical ensemble Sound Out Loud, which features the likes of local multi-instrumentalist and prodigal stalwart Brian Grimm and otherworldly flutist Iva Ugrčić, to once again tackle such a demanding composition, after making their debut last spring with a wonderful outdoor performance of the piece. Sound Out Loud will lead an orchestra (presumably comprised of 18 musicians, har har) through the dense layers of lush, polyrhythmic, and dynamic interplay between sections of piano, bells, woodwinds, strings, and voices that subtly weave in and out of each other and gradually change shape and contour. — Joel Shanahan
From Beyond. Union South Marquee, 7 p.m. (free)
From the mind that helped bring us zombie gorefest Re-Animator, splatter classic Castle Freak, and, uh, Honey, I Shrunk The Kids (as a writer), director Stuart Gordon’s 1986 film From Beyond straddles the line between sci-fi and body-horror. Two scientists design a pleasure machine called The Resonator that’s designed to stimulate the pineal gland, but all goes wrong when the machine starts granting its operators access to another dimension packed with hideously deformed creatures. Late Baby’s Day Out proponent Gene Siskel was largely onboard with this one, but complained about the film’s “unnecessary kinky sex,” which ultimately should make From Beyond all the more alluring for fans of bizarro ’80s horror. — JS
Tom Rhodes. Comedy Club on State, through April 22, see link for all showtimes.
The late ’80s and early ’90s were a crazy time for comedy, with seemingly every marginally funny personality getting their own half-hour special. Tom Rhodes did pretty well for himself in the States during that time as an energetic long-hair telling stoner jokes, but he didn’t really find his voice until he started working and living abroad. He went to Vietnam on Comedy Central’s dime in the ’90s and eventually ended up in Amsterdam hosting a talk show and later a travel show for a Dutch TV network. Rhodes might not be the most polished guy out there, but I really dig the unique expat point of view that informs all of his material. Anyone who’s heard him on a podcast will tell you: This is a guy who’s cultivated an endless amount of fascinating stories from the wildly indirect path his career ended up taking. Hannah Hogan features and Turner Barrowman hosts. — Chris Lay
Sleep, Mono. Majestic, 8 p.m. (sold out)
While stoner-metal legends Sleep paved the way for all too many of their bluesy, “Southern-fried” soundalikes that popped up over the last decade, we still haven’t tired of the crushing, monumental sludge of 1992 classic Sleep’s Holy Mountain. So few have flexed the sonic framework the way the San Jose-based stoner-metal titans did with the filthy trudge of “Aquarian,” the ominously crawling riffs of “Inside The Sun,” and the slanted pummeling of “The Druid.” Since reuniting in 2009, Sleep’s current line-up still boasts two founding members in guitarist (and High On Fire frontman) Matt Pike and bassist-vocalist (and Om mastermind) Al Cisneros. Original drummer Chris Hakius left after the band’s initial reunion shows and has since been replaced with Neurosis crusher Jason Roeder, which is a fine consolation to us. — JS
Waka Flocka Flame, DJ Whoo Kid, Boodah Darr, Knick Symo, DJay Mando. Liquid, 9 p.m.
It is hard to imagine what 2010’s hip-hop would have sounded like without Waka Flocka Flame’s debut album, Flockaveli. Outright rejecting the concepts of lyricism and subtlety in the service of gangsta rap that had the sonic and emotional impact of a wrecking ball, Flockaveli had an immense influence on the then-nascent subgenre of drill. Then, two years later, drill catapulted rappers like Chief Keef and Lil Reese to the national spotlight, and it’s likely they wouldn’t have found success without Flockaveli laying out a fair amount of the blueprint for them. The album was a masterpiece, and an enduring one, and it comes as little surprise that Flocka has spent the following years trying to figure out what to do next. His unexceptional 2012 followup Triple F Life: Friends, Fans & Family was a tentative pop crossover move, not mainstream enough to go all the way with it and nowhere near hard enough to please those who went crazy for Flockaveli. Since then, Flocka put out a bunch of mixtapes that at best showcased substantially technically improved rapping, but didn’t further his sound enough to grab anyone but his most dedicated fans. He also became ensnared in the kind of label hell that can wreak havoc on any artist’s productivity (see Lil Wayne for an even more brutal example of this): Atlantic Records refused to release his projected Flockaveli 2 for years, and he finally managed to leave the label late last year. It’s anyone’s guess whether this means he’ll finally be able to put out an album that manages to dent hip-hop as a whole again, or whether he’ll prefer to keep making money overseas doing dubious collaborations with EDM artists. — Mike Noto
Bad Cinema: Happy Birthday To Me. Central Library, 6:30 p.m. (free)
When watching a trashy flick, sometimes it helps if the origins of its production carry a bit of strange, superfluous shit to consider while viewing it. For example, with 1981 slasher film Happy Birthday To Me, we can chew on the fact that director J. Lee Thompson once worked as a dialogue coach for Alfred Hitchcock, that the film went into production before Friday The 13th did, and that it’s somehow one of the only certified “video nasties” that didn’t get hacked up by MPAA censorship upon its release. This trashy thriller follows a group of elite high school kids who become the target of a mysterious killer. — JS
World Records Symposium. Various UW-Madison campus locations, through April 21
Each year, the Mayrent Institute for Yiddish Culture’s World Records Symposium draws an eclectic blend of academics and enthusiasts, including musicologists, archivists, librarians, ethnomusicologists, folklorists, and anthropologists. While past iterations of the symposium have focused heavily on issues of vernacular musics, the history of broadcasting, and issues surrounding sound archives, this year’s theme focuses on the relationship of vernacular sound to film and is co-sponsored by the the Wisconsin Center for Film and Theater Research. This theatrical tie-in will feature rarities from the Vitaphone, which produced African-American shorts in the late ’20s and early ’30s, as well as a screening of Molly Picon, The Celebrated Character Comedienne, which details the life of the Yiddish actress. Also of particular note is musicologist Dick Spottswood, a vernacular musicologist who literally wrote the book(s) on folk music in the US and helped guide John Fahey towards bluegrass music, giving a talk called “Old Sounds Abound, or Why Discography is Good For You.” — Chali Pittman
Demetri Martin. Orpheum, 7 p.m.
A deadpan comic with an uncharacteristic flair for the bookish and the theatrical, Demetri Martin plays the Orpheum this Thursday — meaning that by Sunday you’ll still likely be musing and snickering over one of his countless clever one-liners or ruminations on the quirks and and absurdities of the English language. For those unfamiliar with Martin, his time as a writer for Late Night With Conan O’Brien is probably the best shorthand to catch up quickly: Like that show’s host, he excels at the bizarrely meta, delights in committing to the asinine, and is unafraid to appear foolish. However, unlike O’Brien, Martin’s stage presence hinges on his slightness and nonchalance. Live, he is known to incorporate a harmonica and guitar to accentuate his observations on the trivial, PowerPoint slides, and illustrations exploring the overlap between the banal, the astute, and the poignant (like how Secret Santa lives in the middle of a Venn diagram of Christmas and creepiness). If you appreciated Mitch Hedberg, you’ll find a lot to love in Demetri Martin. — David Wolinsky
FRIDAY APRIL 21
Mono. Union South Sett, 9 p.m. (free)
What do you do upon realizing that Tokyo, Japan’s Mono — a band that writes delicate, nuanced, and deeply emotive instrumentals — is rolling through town? I don’t know, maybe you could book them at a glorified Buffalo Wild Wings with a stage? So yeah, this was somebody’s thought process and now Mono is playing at the Sett, a magical zone where curious bros get to attend shows with ridiculous decibel limits and all things “vibe” are laid waste. Anyways, Mono is actually supporting Sleep on tour right now, which they’ll be doing at a sold-out Majestic the night prior. The quartet is still touring behind 2016’s Requiem For Hell, which saw the moody post-rock outfit reconnect with longtime collaborator Steve Albini for a collection that largely consists of peak-and-valley epics where delicate guitar lines and weeping strings give way to eruptions of trem-picked guitar and explosive drumming. — JS
Curt Oren & Taralie Peterson, Terror Pigeon Surround Sound Laydown, Midwaste. Williamson Magnetic Recording Company, 8 p.m.
In most cases flopping down on the floor at a show is frowned upon, but Nashville-based project Terror Pigeon is making it central to the experience on its current tour. Better known for its exuberant kitchen-sink pop and crimes against web design, Terror Pigeon heads in a more ambient direction at its “Surround Sound Laydown” shows, ringing the prone audience with a “hexaphonic” system of four speakers and two subwoofers. Attendees are welcome to bring sleeping bags and pillows and so forth, but the band notes that “Air mattresses cannot be accommodated for spatial and sonic reasons.” — Scott Gordon
Vitaphone Rarities. Vilas Hall, 7 p.m. (free)
Each year, UW-Cinematheque tends to celebrate a collection of short films in an exclusive retrospective, whether it be a “Pioneers Of Animation” program of various early twentieth century animators or one recent experimental director, Portland-based Vanessa Renwick. Co-sponsored by the Wisconsin Center for Film and Theater Research and the Mayrent Institute for Yiddish Culture, 2017’s special series of five “Vitaphone Rarities” revolves around a now-antique if still charming and euphonious piece of analogue technology, the Vitaphone — a sound system adopted by several major film studios in the mid-late 1920s for early “talkies.” The soundtracks for films of the era were printed onto large 16-inch shellac discs and synced with the motor of a commercial celluloid projector. The 11-minute Molly Picon, The Celebrated Character Comedienne (1929), directed by Murray Roth, will most notably be presented in a new 35mm restoration that serves as its Midwest premiere. In the film, Picon, the titular Yiddish star of stage and screen, reminisces about her youth in a tenement house. Ron Hutchinson, director of the Vitaphone Project, will introduce the evening’s selections and detail his preservation efforts since the early 1990s. Henry Sapoznik, director of the aforementioned Mayrent Institute, will additionally provide live buoyant musical interludes. — Grant Phipps
The Flaming Lips, Cherry Glazerr. Orpheum, 7 p.m.
It is hard to think of a band that has squandered the good favor they’ve accumulated over decades more thoroughly than The Flaming Lips — and this while putting out more or less consistently good albums. But frontman Wayne Coyne’s predilections for aggravatingly meaningless PR stunts and putting out a stream of gimmicky unofficial product created with haphazardly chosen collaborators (often referred to under the moronic umbrella title of “Fwends” albums), plus a flashy but empty live spectacle that has remained essentially unchanged for nearly 15 years, have all but ensured that The Flaming Lips are now known to much of the general public as the backup band for that irritating old guy who runs around in a hamster ball and hangs out with young female pop stars in desperately creepy attempts to stay cool. This is really a shame, considering that the band still includes the phenomenally talented multi-instrumentalist Steven Drozd as one of its main members, and that Coyne can still write and sing affecting songs when he wants to, and that the band are still theoretically capable of making great music (even if January’s Oczy Mlody is their least inspired album in 11 years). 2009’s Embryonic was a career highlight, which was a pretty amazing accomplishment for a band that had already put out a number of emotionally resonant and brilliantly crafted albums that altered the course of alternative and indie rock. But there’s a real chance that the sheer amount of clueless stupidity Coyne’s been responsible for over the last decade could have turned you off of the band forever, and, sadly, we wouldn’t blame you if that was the case. Rising garage punk band Cherry Glazerr are opening. — MN
Karuna (Hamid Drake, Adam Rudolph). Arts + Literature Laboratory, 9 p.m.
Chicago-based percussionists and composers Hamid Drake and Adam Rudolph are both giants of improvised music and share an affinity for incorporating percussion disciplines from around the world into their work. Drake began his music career in the 1970s and has played with jazz and avant-garde heavies including Pharoah Sanders, Peter Brötzmann, and Ken Vandermark. Rudolph has traveled the world studying traditions including West African music and the north Indian tabla, taking up a dizzying array of different hand drums and other instruments, and racking up collaborators including Yusef Lateef and Bill Laswell. Drake and Rudolph have been collaborating since early in their careers, and have played live sets together as a percussion duo. They’re currently touring under the name Karuna, in which the instrumentation will range from drum kit to thumb pianos to electronics and vocals. Maybe it won’t even sound like anything either player has done before, but it’s safe to expect a night of masterful and daring improvisation. — SG
SATURDAY APRIL 22
Anders Svanoe Trio. Cafe Coda, 8 p.m.
Madison-based saxophonist Anders Svanoe teamed up with bassist John Christensen and percussionist Rodrigo Villanueva-Conroy to make State Of The Baritone, one of our favorite local records of 2016. The album’s 15 original compositions find Svanoe pushing the baritone sax out of its usual role and molding it into a versatile lead instrument, exploring territory from conversational melody to abrasive, guttural outbursts. Just as importantly, the trio as a whole sounds refreshingly bold and balanced, capable of stirring up subtle atmosphere but not afraid to get punchy either. Since the album came out they’ve had more time to work on that chemistry, and hopefully some new compositions too, so it’ll be exciting to see them play Madison’s new jazz club. — SG
Antigone. Vilas Hall, 7 p.m. (free)
This 1991 avant-garde adaptation of the ancient Sophoclean play, Antigone, bears the full, unwieldy German title of Die Antigone des Sophokles nach der Hölderlinschen Übertragung für die Bühne bearbeitet von Brecht 1948 (Suhrkamp Verlag), which suits its verbose and challenging construction. As it most directly references the artistic liberties in the twentieth century interpretation by epic playwright Bertolt Brecht, this third film in this April Cinematheque series remains more of a curious essayistic commentary than a traditional narrative feature. Perhaps its broader appeal, then, lies in the intrigue of its faithfulness to the source material that’s captured in the sparse framing style of husband-wife directorial team of Jean-Marie Straub and Danièle Huillet. The co-directors craft a film that simultaneously documents and subverts the origin tale, a bit like Jean-Luc Godard’s loose adaptation of Shakespeare’s King Lear (1987). The central narrative of Antigone involves the titular heroine (Astrid Ofner), who rails against King Creon (Werner Rehm), ruler of Thebes, by honoring her murdered brother with a burial. Every dramatic gesture from here on, is subtly amplified by the location filming in the majestic Sicilian amphitheater of Teatro di Segesta. — GP
Why?, Page Campbell. Union South Sett, 9 p.m.
I’ll be honest: I never really got into to the WHY? releases that came after 2008’s Alopecia. Frontman Yoni Wolf’s wry lyrics — reading alternately like a love letter or an apology to a past life — the textured percussion landscapes, and the swells from poppy to funny to dark seemed impossible to build upon, and only capable of being stale or lazy if attempted. When Mumps, Etc. came out four years later, that’s what happened. But after another four-year hiatus, this year’s Mho Lhean is fresher — maybe it’s my 18-year-old self talking, but it sounds more like the old WHY?: richly arranged, slightly imperfect, with lyrics still bracingly human yet a little less neurotic. Their show at the Sett this Saturday wraps up a month-long tour supporting the album’s release. (The event page linked above mentions free tickets needed for entry, but that looks to be old news — the event’s Facebook page makes no mention of tickets.) — Erica Motz
Tone Madison Record Store Day Party: Wood Chickens, No Hoax, DJ Quinley, DJ Jared Perez. Bandung Indonesian Restaurant, noon (free)
One of our annual traditions at Tone Madison is teaming up with MadCity Music Exchange to host a free afternoon Record Store Day show, next door to the shop at Bandung. This year we have two Madison bands offering markedly different takes on punk: The charged-up country of Wood Chickens and, and the mighty thrash-infused approach of No Hoax. Before and between the bands, we’ll have two excellent DJs spinning, Quinley and Jared Perez, both regular presences at DJ residencies around Madison with an excellent grasp of house, techno, and dance styles beyond. It’s a great way to blow off steam after waiting in line for that one really specific RSD thing you wanted. — SG
Beatallica. Frequency, 9 p.m.
Beatallica is a treasure (no really, fight me), even if the Milwaukee band’s gimmick of reinterpreting Beatles songs with Metallica-style instrumentation and lyrics seems like a passing drunken dare on paper. Maybe it should have fizzled out in the 15-plus years (!) this has been going on, but for the band’s spot-on execution and clear affection for the source material (a must for any parody-type project). Vocalist/guitarist Michael Tierney even manages a capable and comically exaggerated (not that it takes much exaggeration) recreation of James Hetfield’s square-jawed bellow, and for the most part the mash-up songs are maliciously witty, like “Got To Get You Trapped Under Ice” and “Leper Madonna.” The band’s 2013 album Abbey Load even features “Blackbird” reimagined in a stately minor key on acoustic guitar, a la the “Fight Fire With Fire” intro. And despite Metallica’s litigious reputation, they’ve been supportive, even helping the band out of a 2005 legal dispute with the owners of the Beatles catalog. — SG
SUNDAY APRIL 23
E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial. Chazen Museum of Art, 2 p.m. (free)
The makers of Netflix’s Stranger Things hoovered up a lot of ’80s influences to make last year’s unexpectedly successful homage hit us all in just the right “feels” buttons, but the film they snatched the most inspiration from, far and away, is Steven Spielberg’s 1982 “science fiction fairytale” E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial, which screens here as part of UW Cinematheque’s tribute to film composer. When aliens visiting earth accidentally leave behind one of their own, the little fella is discovered by a young boy named Elliot who, along with his sister Gertie, promises to help E.T. reconnect with his family. The government gets involved at some point, and from there things take a bit of a dark turn which memorably involves lots of guns being pointed at kids. It’s a great film on a lot of levels but, even by Spielberg standards, it’s almost abusive in the way it emotionally manipulates you into bawling big sloppy tears by the time the credits roll. — CL
MONDAY APRIL 24
Break The Cycle. Mechanical Engineering Hall (1513 University Ave.), 5 p.m.
The documentary Break The Cycle: The Power Of Food To Interrupt The Revolving Door Of Prisons finds the intersection between two subjects often discussed in Madison, but rarely mentioned in the same breath. It centers on a Madison program that uses organic farming and the South Madison Farmers’ Market to provide opportunities and training for formerly incarcerated people, tackling both food justice and the insidious, racist cycles of mass incarceration. The evening will include a panel discussion with farmer Robert Pierce, who started the project, Anthony Cooper, Sr. of the Nehemiah Center for Urban Leadership and Development, Carmella Glenn of the Madison Area Urban Ministry and Just Bakery Program, and UW-Madison urban planning professor Alfonso Morales. — SG
Welcome To Night Vale. Capitol Theater, 7 p.m.
Welcome To Night Vale seems like an old hand in the landscape of fiction podcasts, even though it launched in 2012. That’s a testament to the dark humor and culty sci-fi atmosphere the podcast crams into its tight twice-monthly radio dispatches from the strange town of Night Vale. Even as more horror/sci-fi fiction podcasts get going, from the compact Homecoming to the sprawling Tanis, it’s clear that Night Vale has its own weird little niche carved out. This live edition of the show will feature music from singer-songwriter Erin McKeown. — SG
RED Talk: Killer Mike. Union Theater, 7:30 p.m. (free)
As longtime Atlanta rapper Killer Mike has gained some broader recognition for his 2012 solo album R.A.P. Music and subsequent collaboration with El-P as Run The Jewels, he’s also become one of those artists who serves as a public conscience. Yes, he’s been an activist for years, but his national stature as a political figure is a more recent development. His 2014 speech in the wake of a grand jury’s decision not to charge the officer who shot Ferguson, Missouri resident Mike Brown has a lot to do with that, as does his work stumping for Bernie Sanders during the 2016 Democratic presidential primary. But people listen to what Michael Render has to say about race, poverty, and violence because he speaks with authority and raw humanity. Whether you’re listening to a song or a radio interview, you always get the same guy, one who doesn’t pull punches and isn’t afraid to get choked up. He returns here to give a talk on police violence and systemic racism. — SG
WEDNESDAY APRIL 26
Fire At Sea. Barrymore, 7 p.m.
Gianfranco Rosi’s 2016 documentary Fire At Sea focuses in on the Italian island of Lampedusa, in the Mediterranean Sea between Sicily and the coasts of Tunisia and Libya. Since the early 2000s, the small island has become a flashpoint of Europe’s debate over refugees, as tens of thousands of African migrants fleeing, war, poverty, and repression flock to the island, sometimes with tragic results. Fire At Sea takes a strikingly intimate look at the small Italian population of Lampedusa, the desperate refugees who end up in limbo on the island, and how everyone involved deals with an overwhelming situation. Proceeds from this event will benefit Open Doors for Refugees, an organization providing support and services for refugees resettled in the Madison area. — SG