Ryley Walker, Songhoy Blues, Child Bite, and more events of note in Madison this week. | By Scott Gordon, Joel Shanahan, Chris Lay
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THURSDAY APRIL 7
Child Bite, The New Trust, Sinking Suns. The Wisco, 9:30 p.m.
Packed with obliquely pummeling rhythms, filthy riffing, and moonstruck wailing, Negative Noise—the freshly released effort from Detroit-based art-punks Child Bite—deftly straddles the line between no-wave and stoner metal. While the most obvious mindfuck factoid about this album is that it was produced by ex-Pantera vocalist Philip Anselmo, its celebrity producer never overshadows the the refreshingly charred landscape that Child Bite has created here. “Paralytic Phantasm” summons East Bay Ray’s haunting, siren-like guitar leads over the slanted battering of drummer Jeff Kraus. Guitarist-vocalist Sean Clancy’s shaky, amelodic howls stagger across the merciless march of “Video Blood.” And on “Apex Of Anxiety,” the band foregoes the fleshy layer of nerdiness found on the surface of most math-rock and replaces it with something resembling both paranoia and total recklessness. —Joel Shanahan
Marquee International Film Festival. Union South Marquee, through April 10, see link for full schedule
The student programmers at WUD Film really outdid themselves lining up the new Marquee International Film Festival. Many of the 16 films here are getting their first Madison screening, and. Of the vast swath of films screening this weekend, the highlights (other than the two Studio Ghibli films, My Neighbor Tortoro and Only Yesterday, which should be knee-jerk can’t miss right off the bat) include Babak Anvari’s Under The Shadow, a horror film set in 1980s Tehran; Johnnie To’s Office, an over-the-top musical comedy about corporate corruption in China; and Károly Ujj Mészáros’s Liza, The Fox-Fairy, which is about the jealous ghost of a long-dead Japanese pop star who has put a curse on a nurse named Liza. There are so many films though, that it’s not a bad idea to just plop down in the theater and catch a bunch as a warm up for next week’s Wisconsin Film Festival. —Chris Lay
FRIDAY APRIL 8
Deer Tick, Ryley Walker. Majestic, 9 p.m.
Chicago guitarist and singer Ryley Walker extrapolates folk music along beautifully tangled lines. In both solo and band settings, Walker’s fingerstyle acoustic work and lusty, raffishly slurred vocals combine a whiff of the arcane with a forward-looking and conversational style. His most recent solo album, 2015’s Primrose Green, is song-oriented but thrives on a flowing, improvisational-feeling group dynamic, as Walker’s guitar builds up dense melodic spirals piano, occasional strings, and the rhythm section of young Chicago jazz heavies Anton Hatwich (bass) and Frank Rosaly (drums). Walker plays here ahead of the April 16 release of Cannots, a collaboration with Chicago drummer/keyboardist Charles Rumback. —Scott Gordon
Square One: Theodore Elektrk. Cardinal Bar, 9 p.m.
A collaboration between longtime Madison DJ Tim “Lovecraft” Thompson and members of the local Foshizzle Family DJ crew, Square One seems like one of the more promising recurring dance nights in Madison right now, as it focuses on reeling in regional guests every couple of weeks to slay the decks. This week’s guest is Milwaukee techno DJ Theodore Elektrik, and while we’re normally one to cringe when we see a promoter use the fact that an artist has “been making moves on the Beatport charts” as a positive, we must admit that the mixes Elektrik has thrown down for his Renegade Circuit series have been truly hypnotic, heady, and hyper-polished workouts that can likely puppeteer any eager audience into frantic fits of movement. —JS
Unintimidated Release Show: Venus In Furs, Body Futures, Heavy Hand, Damsel Trash. High Noon Saloon, 9:30 p.m.
The Scott Walker era in Wisconsin has inspired a lot of locally sourced protest songs, and much of it has consisted of hair-raisingly bad nostalgia grabs at political folk traditions (and thanks to conservative troubadour Glen Shulfer of Waukesha, the artistic failure wasn’t even politically one-sided). The new compilation Unintimidated: Wisconsin Musicians Against Scott Walker, named for Walker’s memoir and curated by DJ Hostettler of Milwaukee bands IfIHadAHiFi and Body Futures, offers some punk-tinged redemption, with topical but more sonically diverse entries from bands including Madison surf-punk outfit Venus In Furs, bizarro Kenosha rockers Fowlmouth, and Oshkosh’s Haunted Heads. Sales from the comp will raise money for not a political campaign, but for Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin, Milwaukee-area soup kitchens, and, at this show, the grad-student union at UW-Madison. —SG
Wizard World Comic Con. Alliant Energy Center, through April 10, see link for full schedule
Wizard World, the bg box one-stop-shop of comic books conventions, lands once again in Madison’s Alliant Energy Center this weekend. If big name guests are your thing, they have you covered with a few folks from the The Whoniverse, David Tennant (The 10th Doctor) and Alex Kingston, topping the bill. Also on hand will be Nicholas Brendon (Xander from Buffy: The Vampire Slayer), Jewel Staite (Firefly), Barry Bostwick (Rocky Horror Picture Show, Spin City), WWE® Diva Paige™, and, somewhat inexplicably, Joey Fatone of *NSYNC. For those who are looking for more than just a few autographs, there’s a whole lineup of tabletop and video gaming tournaments as well as costume contests and a wide variety of interesting panel discussions including “How Madison, Wi Helped Shape Cartoons,” “Batman V Superman: Did It Suck?,” “Cthulhu’s Comedy Collective” (hosted by local Madison funny-man comedian Alan Talaga), and, somewhat inexplicably again, “Hunting For Ghosts With A Professional Ghosthunter.” —CL
Altman + M*A*S*H*. Vilas Hall, 7 p.m. (free)
In typical form, UW Cinematheque will be kicking off its run of Robert Altman films double-feature style, with a documentary focusing on the director, 2014’s Altman, as well as one of his best known works, 1970’s M*A*S*H*. The documentary, directed by Ron Mann, runs just 95 minutes, so don’t expect it to really dig deep enough into Altman’s director’s fascinatingly diverse oeuvre, but newcomers should at least take advantage of it as an introduction. Next up in the twofer is M*A*S*H*, the bro’d-out Korean War field hospital dramedy that landed Altman his first Oscar nom for directing and introduced the world to amateur mixologist Hawkeye Pierce (Donald Sutherland), loveable deadpan Trapper John McIntyre (Elliott Gould), and the unexpected hit song “Suicide Is Painless.” —CL
SATURDAY APRIL 9
Bent Shapes, Gonzo Rongs, Dogs At Large, Queenager. Williamson Magnetic Recording Company, 8 p.m.
Cambridge, Massachusetts’ Bent Shapes manage to cut through the mass of bands making jangly, high-spirited guitar pop on their second album, this year’s Wolves Of Want. Standout tracks like “Third Coast,” “What We Do Is Public,” and “Samantha West” find the band focused in on barbed, clean-ish guitar phrases and charming but efficient vocal harmonies, and it’s that discipline that makes the band’s dash of exuberance more rewarding. —SG
Made Of Oak, Chris Rosenau. High Noon Saloon, 9:30 p.m.
Nick Sanborn, formerly of Milwaukee bands Decibully and Collections Of Colonies Of Bees and currently half of North Carolina electronic pop project Sylvan Esso, debuted his solo project Made Of Oak last year with the release of the five-song Penumbra EP. While Penumbra shares a bit of Sylvan Esso’s angular slickness, “Side Rides” takes Sanborn’s production to a more subdued and moody place, opening up with inviting chimes and clunks that remind me of Dosh, and “Penultra (When I See You)” consists mostly of a plaintive acoustic guitar and a frizzy drone that gradually gives way to shimmering synth chords. Even if you’re not crazy about Sylvan Esso (I’m not), it’s absolutely worth following Sanborn’s excursions through both beat-oriented tracks and more abstract territory. Opening up here in a solo set is Chris Rosenau, who also plays in Collections Of Colonies Of Bees and co-founded the great Milwaukee instrumental-rock outfit Pele. —SG
El Valiente, Cribshitter, Pollinators. Crystal Corner Bar, 9:30 p.m.
Madison instrumental-rock trio El Valiente has announced that this show will be its final one, ending a run that began in 2006 and yielded some of the most distinctive music in town. Over the course of three albums and dozens of shows, El Valiente played long, complex songs that darted around the usual post-rock cliches in favor of Eric Caldera’s meandering southwest-psych guitar phrases, Joe Bernstein’s heroic double-duty of math-rock drumming and flickery glockenspiel melodies, and bassists Kris Hansen (current) and David Sperka’s (founding) centering grooves. Oh, and a lot of people liked it, from fellow local musicians to more casual listeners—truly, it’s a rare pleasure to enjoy a really great local band and have a diverse crowd to share it with. The band members are parting on good terms, and spoke with us recently about their years together and the projects that lay ahead. —SG
The Night Of The Hunter. Vilas Hall, 7 p.m. (free)
UW Cinematheque’s brief series on directors with only one feature to their names (“four complete retrospectives in one,” the program notes cheekily point out) begins with actor Charles Laughton’s sole directorial credit, the 1955 thriller The Night Of The Hunter. Laughton’s direction, and Robert Mitchum’s leading turn as a murderous faux-preacher, stir up a creepiness at once intimate and spectral. One-time director or not, Laughton made some bold choices here, yielding a grim and at times bombastic film that’s like nothing else of its time. It screens here in a 35mm print. —SG
SUNDAY APRIL 10
Songhoy Blues + They Will Have To Kill Us First. High Noon Saloon, 5 p.m.
Madisonians love their Malian music, at least judging by how frequently acts like Ali Farka Touré play our annual summer festivals on the East Side. But this event reminds us that the tradition we so often enjoy for free has been hard-won, kicking off at 5 with a screening of the documentary They Will Have To Kill Us First: Malian Music In Exile, which looks at how Islamic extremists have tried to suppress the rich musical traditions in the northern part of the country. At 8, one of the bands featured in the film, Songhoy Blues, will play live. Formed after the extremist invasion drove the members from their homes in northern Mali, the band builds on a rich tradition of melding West African folk music with Western blues and rock sounds (which West African music influenced in the first place) in a rhythmically complex and electric-guitar-centered format. The band released its debut album, Music In Exile, in 2015. —SG
The Rite. Chazen Museum of Art, 2 p.m. (free)
MONDAY APRIL 11
Walker. Union South Marquee, 7 p.m. (free)
Alex Cox’s 1987 film Walker offers a bizarro-Western interpretation of the story of William Walker, who in the 1850s led ultimately ill-fated private military incursions into Central America. Ed Harris brings both imperialist zeal and an ever-escalating glint of madness to the title role here, and Peter Boyle co-stars as shipping and railroad millionaire Cornelius Vanderbilt, who financed Walker’s invasion of Nicaragua in hopes of securing a lucrative overland link between the Atlantic and the Pacific. Deliberately surreal and comical (look out for a helicopter, despite the period setting), Walker also features a soundtrack by Joe Strummer. —SG
TUESDAY APRIL 12
Cap Times Talks: Criminal Justice. High Noon Saloon, 7 p.m.
It shouldn’t be news to anyone that America’s criminal-justice system is dysfunctional, given the dozens of wrongful convictions that have been overturned in murder and rape cases, scandals involving lethal injection drugs and multiple states, the cold hard stats on mass incarceration and racial disparities, and growing support among people on both right and left for criminal-justice reform. The Capital Times will attempt to tackle some of these issues at this panel discussion, featuring pastor and judicial candidate Everett Mitchell and former Wisconsin Attorney General Peg Lautenschlager—but for many, the real attraction will be Dean Strang, the Madison defense attorney catapulted to unlikely heartthrob status after his appearance in Netflix’s Making A Murderer. —SG
Czarbles, More Is More, Matt Monsoor, Noxroy. Mickey’s Tavern, 10:30 p.m. (free)
Minneapolis duo More Is More uses its sparse guitar-and-drums instrumentation to spiral through a host of instrumental rock styles on the 2014 Roy G. Black EP. “Dirty Bellows” focuses on restrained, delay-streaked atmosphere, with even the inevitable distorted crescendo kept pretty brief, while “Caveat Part II” summons up a gleefully twisted math-rock waltz. They share the bill here with eccentric La Crosse singer-songwriter Matt Monsoor, Madison instrumental-rock champs Czarbles, and Eau Claire-based synth and guitar experimenter Noxroy. —SG
WEDNESDAY APRIL 13
Christian Dior, Hello Ocho, Asumaya. Mickey’s Tavern, 10:30 p.m. (free)
Atlanta band Hello Ocho make psych-pop that plays on the tension between spacious, warmly blurred instrumentation (vibraphone, keys, guitar, mandolin) and high-strung vocal melodies and nervously ticking rhythms. The band plays here behind its new album In Portuguese. It’s also worth catching the show for the two local bands on the bill. Asumaya, the one-man project of Luke Bassuener (Control, Faux Fawn), combines his interests in multiple styles of African music, post-punk, and pop in resourcefully crafted, politically barbed songs. Madison duo Christian Dior veer wildly between spite-fueled grunge and noise-blasted tenderness on their 2015 Patriot Glass/Dioria EP. —SG