Speedy Ortiz, Joe DeRosa, CJ Boyd, and more of the best stuff in Madison this week. | By Scott Gordon, Chris Lay, and Joel Shanahan
THURSDAY APRIL 30
The best way to take in screenings at WUD Film’s on-again, off-again experimental series in is to just go with an open mind, empty expectations, and the faith that the experience will be, at the very least, memorable. Starlight Cinema’s final screening for this semester,
Modernist Landscapes, is an hour long program of 16mm films from some of the legends of abstract filmmaking (Stan Brakhage, Scott Stark, Peter Hutton, and Kurt Kren) built on the loose theme of “rethinking of how we look at the landscapes around us.” Which means it’s almost pointless to try and suss out what specifically to expect, aside from avant-garde shorts that you won’t often get to see projected in 16mm in Madison.
Joe DeRosa rides an interesting fine line between the disarming self-deprecation of an alt-comedian and the hard-nosed offensiveness of a NY club comic and
Opie & Anthony regular. He’s a flexible comedian who you might recognize from appearances on Louie and Inside Amy Schumer, but his greatest credit so far as we’re concerned is his New Material Seinfeld puppet character from TBS’s short-lived Pete Holmes Show. DeRosa’s stand-up albums are titled The Depression Auction, Return of The Son of The Depression Auction, and You Will Die, so consider that fair warning if you’re drawn to his run at the Comedy Club this weekend. Opening the show will be Madison-based comic Geoffrey Asmus and Chicago’s Mike Lebovitz.
The Greater Madison Jazz Consortium’s four-part series of performances highlighting regional musicians and their new original works concludes with Paul Dietrich, a young trumpeter who divides his time between Madison and Chicago. Joining him here is the band he played with on his 2014 album
We Always Get There, which includes sleek, meandering originals like “Dunes” and an affectionate interpretation of Bjork’s “Unravel.”
FRIDAY MAY 1
Chilean-born artist Alfredo Jaar has become renowned for installations and conceptual art projects that tackle geopolitical violence both overt and insidious, from the Rwandan genocide to the economic exploitation that industrialized nations inflict on the developing world. He’ll make two public appearances in Madison on Friday. In the first, he’ll talk with French journalist Thierry Cruvellier, who has explored genocide and war crimes extensively. In the second, he’ll give a lecture titled
It Is Difficult, which will focus more on Jaar’s own work.
Northampton, Massachusetts band Speedy Ortiz, led by singer-guitarist Sadie Dupuis, proved themselves adept at winding together dense lyrics and rhythmically gnarled guitar melodies, but making it all sound strangely fluid, on 2013’s album
Major Arcana. The new Foil Deer expands that sound into something that’s at once more accessible and more complex. Speedy Ortiz still shows off its affinity for beautiful indie-rock mutants like Jawbox and Unwound, but Dupuis’ songwriting takes on a newly brash and adventurous direction, especially with the slithering, funky “Puffer” and the wistful sway of “The Graduates.” Even the songs on Foil Deer that sound closest to Major Arcana songs (“Zig,” “Raising The Skate,” “Dot X”) feel bigger and more determined. Part of that is the band’s current lineup really cohering well and expanding its sonic palette, but more importantly, it’s a product of a nuanced, brilliantly warped songwriter seizing on newfound confidence.
Chicago trio Daylight Robbery are currently working on their third studio album, but for now 2013’s EP
Distant Shores and 2012’s album Ecstatic Vision are enough to get us intrigued in the band’s driving yet vulnerable take on post-punk, the drama heightened by the vocal pairing of bassist Christine Wolf and guitarist David Wolf. It’s equally worth coming out to this show for fellow Chicago outfit Split Feet’s barbed vocal melodies and cutting, economical guitar lines, as heard on this year’s album Shame Parade. Sharing the bill are playfully warped Madison garage-punk outfit Gonzo Rongs and newer Madison band The Labuans.
SATURDAY MAY 2
Kelley Deal of The Breeders and Mike Montgomery of Cincinnati instrumental-rock band Ampline both seem to find a liberating detour in their collaboration as R. Ring, whose output so far has consisted of a limited-run EP and the occasional 7-inch. Take their two most recent offerings: “Loud Underneath,” on an upcoming split with Detroit band Protomartyr, pounds along on a snapping snare and brightly distorted guitars, while “Singing Tower,” recorded for a split with Kentucky band Quailbones, builds on tender acoustic guitar and piano for a brief but wonderfully disarming minute and a half. Show up in time for the opening set from Madison band Vanishing Kids’ disorienting meld of post-punk, psych and prog.
After last year’s bonkers headlining kind-of-a-performance from Waka Flocka Flame, and solid sets from Angel Olsen and Sky Ferreira, it’s a bit anticlimactic for campus’ Revelry festival to bring back Chance The Rapper, who played the first Revelry in 2013, as this year’s headliner. OK, all the folks who’ve helped Chance blow up in the intervening two years would probably disagree, especially with a new free album,
Surf, on the way. It’ll be interesting to see how the eerie UK electronic-pop act Until The Ribbon Breaks works in a festival setting, but we’re definitely intrigued in the wake of UTRB’s new album, A Lesson Unlearnt, which features collaborations with Homeboy Sandman and Run The Jewels. But over on Terrace stage and Wisco Disco, Revelry has booked a worthwhile array of local and regional acts, including Madison indie-pop upstarts Modern Mod, cleverly off-the-wall producers Somewear Sound and *hitmayng, and a collaborative set between rappers Lord Of The Fly and CRASHprez.
SUNDAY MAY 3
Robert Wise’s bleak, restrained 1971 film
The Andromeda Strain adapts Michael Crichton’s novel about a team of scientists battling a lethal and insidiously mutating microorganism that crashes to earth on a satellite.
MONDAY MAY 4
When the WUD Film Committee and the UW Cinematheque were putting together their exquisitely camptastic “
Cannon Fodder” joint series, Death Wish 3 (the most egregiously violent of the five-film Death Wish series) was scheduled to screen on April 6. Thanks to a certain basketball team going almost all the way in the NCAA Tournament, though, they ended up rescheduling it as the second half of a double feature with Tobe Hooper’s 1985 space vampire saga Lifeforce featuring, the Cinematheque promises, “more decomposing vampire corpses and full frontal female nudity than you can shake a stick at.” Also: stop shaking sticks at full frontal female nudity, you creeps.
TUESDAY MAY 5
When reaching into CJ Boyd’s latest album, 2014’s
Precariat, it’s clear that the experimental bassist-vocalist, improvisor, and perpetual traveler prefers to keep his tunes slow-burning, easy-breathing, and spacious. But despite Boyd’s love for minimal compositions, he never leaves them sounding thin. A head-rattling, organic bass-drone rich with harmonics slithers in the background of “The Space Between Us,” as Boyd’s emotive, chanty vocals whirl in the forefront. “Peradora,” a delicate electric guitar-powered piece that meanders longingly with ease, offering a glimpse at Boyd’s improvisational chops.
The High Noon celebrates its 11th anniversary with long-running Southern California punk outfit Agent Orange.
WEDNESDAY MAY 6
On Seattle, WA-based songsmith David Bazan’s current “Living Room Tour,” he’ll be celebrating the 10-year anniversary of the sole, self-titled album from Headphones, the synthesizer-drums duo that Bazan fired up with Starflyer 59’s T.W. Walsh back in 2005. The instrumentation of Headphones will sync up beautifully with Bazan’s latest synth-charged release,
Bazan Monthly: Volume 2, which is the latest outcome of an ongoing project that sees Bazan releasing two songs every month for four months and then rounding them up and selling them as a digital collection or a set of 7-inches records. Bazan’s lovingly cranky croons fall over surprisingly danceable drum machine rhythms and hearty slabs of synthesizer. So yeah, we probably wouldn’t go expecting a wealth of Pedro The Lion tunes this time around if we were you. Bazan will be joined onstage by The Shins’ bassist Yuuki Matthews. Electro-twee curmudgeon and ex-Casiotone For The Painfully Alone mastermind Owen Ashworth opens with a set from his latest project, Advance Base.