Boris, BC Grimm, Kiddo, Dick Dale, and more events of note this week in Madison. | Scott Gordon, Chris Lay, Joel Shanahan
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THURSDAY AUGUST 11
Tone Madison Presents GateSound: Sam Amidon, Tony Barba. Gates of Heaven, 7 p.m.
Sam Amidon’s approach to folk music swings between the crisply traditional and the slyly experimental. The title track of his 2014 album Lily-O, captures a good portion of that range: Amidon begins this version of the old murder ballad with just his rugged and deceptively rich voice, but the track builds up with Bill Frisell’s strangely shimmering electric guitar, Amidon’s own sparse acoustic guitar, and twinkles of electronic melody. It never comes off as forced hybridization or self-conscious traditionalism; instead, Amidon shows a confident grasp of all these elements and brings them into a flowing conversation. While Amidon’s collaborators have ranged from Frisell to Ben Frost to Nico Muhly, he’ll be performing solo here with banjo and acoustic guitar. Opening up the show is Madison-based woodwinds player Tony Barba, who will be showcasing a new solo setup built around tenor sax, loops, Moog effects, and analog synthesizer. Since this is a Tone Madison-organized show, you can read more in our curator’s notes here. —Scott Gordon
Cave Curse, Vanishing Kids, Naked Lights, Grave Texture. High Noon Saloon, 9 p.m.
This show will celebrate the release of a new self-titled EP by Cave Curse, a synth-pop project that so far has been just Bobby Hussy (The Hussy, Fire Retarded) in the studio but adds drummer Will Gunnerson for live shows. The duo has pulled together an excellent supporting bill too. Oakland quintet Naked Lights’ 2016 album, On Nature, smears post-punk into a fragmented state that recalls the formative-sounding chaos of bands like Wire and The Ex. Standout tracks like “Hedges,” “Blue Ink,” and “Clock Support” have a deft rhythmic tension holding them forever, but their dissonant jabs of guitar and H.L. Nelly’s chaotic vocals still give them the feel of frenzied cut-and-paste sessions, in a good way. Madison bands Vanishing Kids and Grave Texture round out the bill with distinct but equally accomplished takes on goth-rock. —SG
Tim Harmston. Comedy Club on State, through August 13, see link for all showtimes.
There are only a handful of great examples of standup comedy album covers out there, but Tim Harmston’s The Most Bees Ever is right up towards the top of the pile if you ask me. Harmston’s absurd spin on the Frank Sinatra album In The Wee Small Hours is a microcosm of the comedian himself. Originally from Menomonie, Wisconsin, and currently based in Minneapolis, Harmston leans into the flyover-country niceness he’s gotten from both nature and nurture, but what his material might lack in edge, he more than makes up for with anarchically silly punchlines that you never see coming. Sam Norton features and 2016 Madison’s Funniest Comic runner-up Esteban Touma hosts. —Chris Lay
Feature Film And Video Game Music Concert. Steinway Piano Gallery (6629 Mineral Point Rd.), 7 p.m. (free)
The Steinway piano showroom on the west side, of all places, opened itself to adventurous programming recently with a performance from the Sound Out Loud ensemble, and surprises us agian with this night of young classical musicians performing music from video games and Studio Ghibli films. During the first set, a strings-and-piano quintet will weave together selections from the scores of Spirited Away, Howl’s Moving Castle, Princess Mononoke, and My Neighbor Totoro. The second half of the night will be a medley, performed by string quartet, of music from games including Mario Kart, Super Smash Bros., Tales Of Symphonia, and The Legend Of Zelda and Pokemon series. —SG
FRIDAY AUGUST 12
Square One: Kiddo, Mahogany, Just Elmo, Carrick. Cardinal Bar, 9 p.m.
This week’s edition of Square One—a Cardinal Bar dance night curated by a handful of Madison’s deepest and most eclectic house and techno DJs—will be headlined by Chicago-based veteran selector Kiddo (née Elly Schook). We’ve been entranced as of late by Schook’s Lullaby Sessions mix series, which were all mixed and recorded while she rocked her baby to sleep. These gorgeously crafted mergers of dub techno, micro-house, and deep house are loaded with spacious rhythms, oceanic chords, and impossibly infectious and bass-heavy grooves. We’re very stoked to hear how the misty sonics both pound and float from the Cardinal Bar’s enveloping soundsystem. The mix posted below is a perfect morning cruiser. —Joel Shanahan
Central Park Session: Fatoumata Diawara, Daby Touré, Limanya Dance, Kikeh Mato. Central Park, 5 p.m. (free)
Malian singer and guitarist Fatoumata Diawara channels the music of Mali’s Wassalou region into entrancingly fluid and sometimes somber songs. On tracks like “Kanou” and “Kèlè,” subtly interlocking percussion layers and sparse, prickly guitar lines leave plenty of space for Diawara’s voice to flow between tense, quiet melodies and strong, declarative moments. She shares top billing at this Central Park Sessions show with Mauritanian artist Daby Touré. This show also serves as a kick-off of sorts for Saturday’s Africa Fest, which also takes place in Central Park. —SG
Dick Dale, Kevin Fayte Rock & Roll Trio. High Noon Saloon, 7 p.m.
Dick Dale’s instrumental work in the 1950s and 1960s not only defined the surf-rock genre, but also had a much broader impact on how people use and hear the electric guitar in popular music. Dale, who turns 80 next year, is still working a pretty grueling tour schedule in large part to pay his medical bills—a situation he explained in way too much detail to Billboard last year—but he’s still a fierce and committed performer, ripping out old hits like “Misirlou” with a fiery family-band trio. —SG
Blueheels, Little Legend, Luke Arvid. Frequency, 10 p.m.
It seems like forever ago that Madison band Blueheels were regularly playing out with their lusty country-rock. Their last studio album, Weather Machine, came out in 2012 and things have been pretty quiet since. They return here to celebrate the release of their fourth full-length, Get Lonely. The previous lineup is back in full, and so is the weary and sly wit of lead singer Robby Schiller, especially on opening track “Hot Knives And Dog Fights” and on “Gruff & Grumpy Stuff”—with the latter boasting lots of quick, melodic work from Teddy Pedriana’s organ and Justin Bricco’s lead guitar. As on previous efforts, Blueheels leave a lot of room for variation—see the wistful, wandering piano of “Astoria” and the reggae dabblings of “Not That Serious”—without diluting their sweet, occasionally smart-assed charm. —SG
BC Grimm, Chris Weller Quartet. Art In (1444 E. Washington Ave.), 8 p.m.
Brian Grimm is something of an experimental-music powerhouse in Madison. A classically trained cellist and a student of several Chinese stringed instruments, Grimm plays here to celebrate the release of a new record called Orbis Obscura. It consists of a single 35-minute piece in which Grimm runs a pipa (a lute-like Chinese instrument) through a fuzz pedal and the array of delay effects provided by the Digitech Obscura pedal, the piece’s namesake. The result might be one of the most sonically untethered things Grimm has put out there so far—which is saying something, and also not a complaint. He uses this eccentric but relatively stripped-down setup to veer through an array of warmly distorted drones, sticky pulsating rhythms, and layers of scratchy texture. The release is also the first from a new Madison- and Milwaukee-focused label, Other Obscura. —SG
SATURDAY AUGUST 13
Madison New Music Festival Inaugural Concert. Madison Museum of Contemporary Art, 7:30 p.m.
The past couple of years have seen Madison make some real gains in terms of classically trained musicians performing the works of modern and contemporary composers, thanks to the efforts of groups like Clocks In Motion, Willy Street Chamber Players, and Sound Out Loud. The Madison New Music Festival, getting a “soft launch” here with plans to return next year as a full-fledged multi-day summer festival, apparently aims to consolidate those gains. Organizers say they want to “present brand new pieces by the world’s leading living composers, shine a spotlight on new music being created in Wisconsin, and finally, share underplayed classics of the contemporary repertoire with the Madison community.” This one-night kickoff will involve musicians from Madison and elsewhere performing works by emerging and established contemporary composers. —SG
Off The Wall. Arts + Literature Laboratory, 9 p.m.
The Off The Wall video-art series kicked off last Saturday with a program of 19 experimental video-art pieces by artists from Madison, Europe, Israel, Japan, Australia, and other locales domestic and international. The highlights ranged from a hilariously unnerving riff on privacy policies (embed below) to somber reflections on scapegoating and the meaning of the word Asia. And as a whole, the program offered a compelling experience of being constantly wrenched between different styles and vantage points. This Saturday’s installment looks equally ambitious, with 17 artists’ work on the bill. Screenings take place in the alley next to Arts + Literature Laboratory, and organizers hope to expand the series next summer. —SG
MONDAY AUGUST 15
Clueless. Memorial Union Terrace, 9 p.m. (free)
Looking for a shot of 1990s nostalgia that holds up? Grab your fuzziest backpack and catch Clueless on the Terrace. If you need a reminder of how legitimately great this movie is (As. If.) and aren’t scared of a little homework (Harsh!), I could point you towards not one but three excellent writeups from the dearly parted The Dissolve’s movie-of-the-week coverage a couple of years back, but for everyone else this should be a slam dunk. Directed by Amy Heckerling from her own script, which is based loosely on Jane Austen’s novel Emma, Clueless cast then-Aerosmith music video it-girl Alicia Silverstone as a Beverly Hills high schooler who stumbles into love. The cast is rounded out by early appearances from up and comers Brittany Murphy, Paul Rudd, Donald Faison, and eventual (and inexplicable) Trump-stumper Stacey Dash. Even though the film is 21 years old, the characters still feel fresh and relatable—which is a minor miracle, given how gloriously dated every other aspect of this movie is. —CL
TUESDAY AUGUST 16
Boris, Earth. 8 p.m.
[Update: Boris have canceled. Earth will still play as headliners, and Droids Attack will open. Ticket price has been reduced; see link above for full details.] Ever since Tokyo band Boris dropped the 2005 sludge-rock milestone Pink, the prolific battering ram of releases that have followed have sort of rested in its shadow. And while we have full respect for the band’s hyper-adventurous spirit—Boris are often willing to touch upon bits of prog-rock, glam-metal, and even video game or anime-esque chord progressions and arrangements—it’s the razor focus of Pink that made it the timeless monolith it is. Tunes like “Pink” and “Woman On The Screen” are guided along by batshit drummer Atsuo (all three members perform mononymously), whose annihilating rhythms combine the classic rock-power of Keith Moon with a bonkers, post-punk unpredictability that’s endlessly exciting. Vocalist-bassist Takeshi’s growling, fuzzy bass lines and restrained vocal wailing lock in texturally with guitarist Wata’s filthy riffing, which is often soaked in hissing distortion. However, when the band breaks down into crawling tempos on “Farewell” and “Afterburner,” the trio is able to conjure totally different sort of heaviness and moody psychedelia. This show will be a serious treat, as this tour is dedicated to the 10-year anniversary of Pink. If that’s somehow not enough to lure you in, heavy instrumental legends Earth will open. —JS
Chicago. Overture Hall, 8 p.m.
Known best to the masses for their smooth, horn-powered pop-rock hits and to punk geeks for the ire they conjured from Lester Bangs’ sardonic soul in his essay Chicago At Carnegie Hall, Volumes I, II, III, & IV, Chicago’s Chicago set the tone for yacht rock and have somehow made artists like Michael McDonald and Steely Dan look edgy in contrast. And hey, It truly pains me to shit on my dad’s favorite band, but perhaps to the ensemble’s credit, I’ve always marveled at how Chicago managed to create such an edgeless, sonic paracosm of limply jazzy hooks and meticulously inoffensive songwriting, as exemplified on canned rocker “25 Or 6 To 4” and the smarmy shuffle of “Does Anybody Really Know What Time It Is.” After trying and failing to organize a reunion with original crooner-bassist Peter Cetera, the kings of elevator rock appear to at least be touring with four of their seven founding members, which is more than we can say for a lot of nostalgia acts. —JS
WEDNESDAY AUGUST 17
Cribshitter. Shitty Barn, 7 p.m.
The past year has been a big one for the singularly demented Cribshitter: The Madisonn band released a long-in-the-works kinda-concept album called Acapulco, earned a new fan in Steve Albini, and beefed up a live set that truly showcases the exuberant pop songcraft they’ve built up behind their wall of jokes about vaginas and Mexican timeshares. You can’t miss the sick humor—songs like “Where You Goin’ With That Hard-On?” and “Mall Pretzel” wave it in your face—but it’s still possible to pull back and admire the (sonic) maturity with which Cribshitter draws on pop, country, funk, rap, and electronic music. This show is billed as an “An Intimate Evening with Cribshitter,” so expect them to pull out all the stops and demand their version of “Cocaine.” —SG