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A homegrown emo fest and a heavy farewell

Plus more events we recommend checking out in Madison, November 7 through 13 edition.
An illustration shows a series of multicolored guitar necks pointing in from either side of the frame.
Illustration by Shasya Sidebottom.

Plus more events we recommend checking out in Madison, November 7 through November 13 edition.

We’re partnering with the wonderful independent email newsletter Madison Minutes to bring you event recommendations every week. Some of these write-ups will appear in Madison Minutes‘ weekly event email, and all of which will appear here.

A few notes: This events roundup is, as before, selective and not comprehensive. Each week, we’ll focus on a handful of things our editors and writers find compelling, and that’s it. We’ll write up a few of them, and just list a few more. It’ll take us a while to get back to full strength with this part of our coverage, because we’ve had so many other exciting, demanding things to work on lately. Please reach out to us with suggestions—and info about your event, as long as you’re able to get it to us a few weeks in advance—at [email protected].

CURRENTLY SCREENING THROUGH NOVEMBER 16

Armageddon Time at Marcus Point, Marcus Palace, and AMC Fitchburg. Various show times.

In James Gray’s Armageddon Time (2022), assimilation comes with the crushing weight of responsibility that can never really be lived up to. Based on Gray’s own adolescence in 1980 New York City, his semi-fictionalized analogue Paul Graff (Banks Repeta) is a daydreaming, quietly defiant Jewish sixth grader, who strikes up a friendship with Johnny Davis (Jaylin Webb), a black student repeating the grade. When both are singled out as troublemakers by their teacher Mr. Turkeltaub (Andrew Polk), their relationship awakens Paul to his fishbowl of privilege, as Johnny continually bears a greater brunt of the consequences for their shared schemes.

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Paul is more than a little naive of the true circumstances of Johnny’s problems at home (left to fend for himself most of the time, living with his grandmother who has dementia). For better or worse, the film stands as Gray’s admission of guilt for the implications of actions he once didn’t understand. The film’s steady perspective and its lessons are centered more on Paul than Johnny, who isn’t quite as fleshed out. Gray sticks to what he knows, even as he acknowledges the pain it caused back then.

Armageddon Time really excels in showcasing the gap between Paul and Johnny’s family support networks, however flawed they may be. Paul’s mother Esther (Anne Hathaway), father Irving (Jeremy Strong) and especially his grandfather Aaron Rabinowitz (Anthony Hopkins) are exasperated by his artistic dreams, his inattention in school, and friendship with Johnny, often giving him conflicting advice. But they clearly care, even in their lack of understanding him.

Paul truly connects with his grandfather who tells him to “be a mensch” and stick up for the less privileged, while also paying to take him out of the public school to place him in the private school that his older brother Ted (Ryan Sell) attends. There Paul encounters Fred Trump (John Diehl) and Maryanne Trump (Jessica Chastain), the latter who gives a speech extolling the virtues of the Reaganite bootstrapping. While Paul’s family hates Reagan, they sincerely believe his mixing with this crowd of elitists will ensure their survival. To twist the old Carlin adage, it’s a big club, and you better try your damndest to get in it.

—Lewis Peterson

NOVEMBER 8

The White Mosque: A Conversation Between Sofia Samatar And Carmen Maria Machado online via A Room of One’s Own, 6 p.m.

NOVEMBER 10

Rimini at UW Cinematheque. Doors at 6:30 p.m., screening at 7 p.m. Free.

Excerpt from Maxwell Courtright’s review:

The milieu of writer-director Ulrich Seidl’s films provides a unique sandbox for looking at our difficulties in living with modern history. This sort of blank stare towards contemporary pain is nothing new for Seidl, who continues in this very Austrian vein found in films by Michael Haneke and writers like Thomas Bernhard. Bernhard, in particular, seems like a touchstone, as he shares with Seidl a deep sense of frustration with the Austrian national identity. (Bernhard famously forbade the performance of his plays in Austria following his death in 1989.) Both authors struggle with the post-Holocaust identity of their country, where they clearly feel they hold a sort of hereditary responsibility for the atrocities of yore. There is no clear path forward. 

Seidel repeatedly underlines protagonist and lounge singer Richie Bravo (Michael Thomas)’s Trump-like qualities in the film, from his melting spray tan to the cheap decal self-portraits that decorate his home with thumbs-ups and toothy grins. But Seidl retains some sympathy for this oaf, as his failures are soft. Bravo is a true buffoon who has inherited a debt he’s not prepared to atone for. He’s on the other side of luck without a family, relying on outdated music with an ever-declining fan base for his income. For Bravo, his overheated pop hits of yesterday are the cultural equivalent of a Band-Aid for a deep wound, and his struggles to create a life for himself in the remote locale of Rimini are reminiscent of a country unsure how to move beyond its past.

NOVEMBER 11

Aaron Brenton’s Shutter Step, Yin Waster, Hannah Edlén at Dark Horse Art Bar. 9 p.m. $8.

Hannah Edlén’s forays into the avant-garde will prove especially illuminating at Dark Horse come Friday, as the experimental musician will be accompanied by visual artist—and frequent Edlén collaborator—Ryan Lansing (of a few Madison music projects, including ambient duo Good Corners). Edlén, whose track “Butterfly Funeral” was listed as one of Tone Madison’s favorite songs of 2021, will play second. Warped folk duo Yin Waster will open the night, bringing the aggressively ambient bent that dominates their just-released The 1446 EP to the show. Aaron Brenton’s Shutter Step will be on hand to close things out with their distinctly modern take on jazz fusion. Combined, this is one of the more eclectic and varied three-band bills that will be on offer throughout the week, swinging an impressive gamut of styles. All of the performers here have clear artistic conviction, creating an intangible common thread that’s tied this lineup together in a nice bow. 

—Steven Spoerl

La Guerre Est Finie at UW Cinematheque. Doors at 6:30 p.m., screening at 7 p.m. Free.

NOVEMBER 12

Bereft, Aseethe, Corridoré, The American Dead, PV, Whisky Pig at BarleyPop Live. 5 p.m. $5-$10 donations requested.

Bereft turned elements of black metal, doom, and post-rock into extended, searing tracks that often felt like they were trying to surmount an overwhelming emotional tide. The Madison band’s atmospheric-black-metal tendencies emerged in full force on 2014’s debut album Lost Ages, and the doom elements became more ruggedly pronounced on their 2017 follow-up, Lands. Standout tracks like Lost Ages‘ “Unwelcome” and Lands closer “Waning Light” balanced heaviness with a vulnerability that always felt convincing and true. The band was at work on new material when guitarist/vocalist Alex Linden died in December 2021, at the age of 36.

The remaining members of Bereft—guitarist vocalist Zach Johnson, bassist Cade Gentry, and drummer Jerry McDougal—plan to keep making music together, but not under that name. At this last Bereft show, the trio will play a set of music from across the band’s career. You won’t hear any attempts here to fill in Linden’s versatile guitar work or the deep, growling chasm of his vocals. As Johnson told us in a recent story, “in this way, [Linden’s] absence isn’t just seen and felt, it’s heard.” 

All proceeds from the show will go toward a music-lessons scholarship fund in Linden’s name at Madison Music Foundry, honoring Linden’s deep commitment to music as an artist, fan, and community member. All the other acts playing at this show, including Iowa City-based Aseethe and Madison epic-metallers Corridoré, shared stages and friendship with Bereft throughout its memorable and tragically truncated existence.

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—Scott Gordon

Case Kämäräinen at Café Coda. 7 p.m. $20.

Split between the US, Finland, and Poland, Case Kämäräinen‘s international dynamic pays off in the quartet’s versatility. The project is currently made up of drummer Tomi Kämäräinen, pianist Tuomo Uusitalo, saxophonist Marek Konarski, and bassist Myles Sloniker. Sloniker is the group’s lone American member and Konarski the only Polish member. Uusitalo and Kämäräinen both presently call Finland home. Each of Case Kämäräinen’s four members brings a distinct, aggressive dynamic to the band’s performances, muscling their way into strikingly complementary cacophonies of dueling harmonies and tasteful dissonance.

Mystique From The North, Case Kämäräinen’s latest album, taps into a more melancholic approach but it suits the material (Konarski and Kämäräinen are the only two from this live iteration to have played on the album). Even with that melancholic bent, the record makes allowances for fiery playing, as is the case on “Cabin Feaver,” showcasing both the band’s inventiveness and range.

—Steven Spoerl

Homie Fest II at The Rigby. 1 p.m. $20.

Fourteen exciting emo or emo-adjacent bands in one day for $20 is a bargain that’s reflective of the genre’s storied DIY upbringing. Cartwright, Man Alive, Endswell, Honey Creek, Equipment, Excuse Me, Who Are You?, Tiny Voices, Good News Dudes!, Riot Nine, The Sinner And The Saint, Dear Mr. Watterson, Nosebleeds, Barely Civil, and Kulek make up an enticing, one-day lineup. Nearly all of the bands hail from various corners and pockets of Wisconsin, including several from Madison. Ohio-based Equipment register as one of the clear standouts here, joining Tone Madison favorites Dear Mr. Watterson in that regard. Here’s what we had to say about Dear Mr. Watterson’s 2021 EP Confusion Perfected:

Confusion Perfected‘s outsize energy, riff-happy approach, teeth-gnashing ferocity, and unabashed scruffiness place it in territory that has rarely been inhabited this strikingly since Titus Andronicus’ 2008 debut The Airing Of Grievances. In lesser hands, the end result of that combination usually winds up being an abject mess that amounts to ambitious ideas and poor execution. Dear Mr. Watterson adeptly avoids that trap, channeling a playful precociousness that evens out the material’s jittery nature.”

—Steven Spoerl

Greener Grass at Union South Marquee Cinema. 9 p.m. Free.

NOVEMBER 13

Women Talking (sneak screening) at UW Cinematheque. Doors at 6:30 p.m., screening at 7 p.m. Free.

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