Hassles, “Timecrimes,” a Kathy Cramer talk, Kenny Hoopla, and more events of note in Madison this week. | By Emili Earhart, Scott Gordon, Reid Kurkerewicz, Chris Lay, Grant Phipps, and Henry Solo
Sponsor message: The weekly Tone Madison calendar is made possible with support from Union Cab of Madison, a worker-owned cooperative providing safe and professional taxi services.
THURSDAY JANUARY 11
Comedy At The Cabaret. North Street Cabaret, 8 p.m.
The steady increase of smaller venues around town over 2017 means that local comics will thankfully have even more opportunities for stage time as new spaces are colonized by enterprising local producers. Local comedian Allie Lindsay planted a flag in the North Street Cabaret’s fertile soil last November and is back this month with a lineup that’s heavy on Madison veterans including Stevie Leigh Crutcher, Peter Jurich, Jake Snell, and Shawn Vasquez. The night culminates in a headlining set of pleasantly low-energy wordplay from Rich D’Amore—who will be fresh off a gig opening for Dan St. Germain the preceding weekend at the Comedy Club on State. This show, along with the comparatively long-running (and equally imaginatively titled) “Comedy at The Meadery” series at Bos Meadery, marks an interesting move eastward for the local comedy scene, so there’s even less of an excuse not to support it if you’re in that neck of the woods. —Chris Lay
FRIDAY JANUARY 12
Real Boy, Kenny Hoopla, Sonny Falls, Once A Month. Mickey’s Tavern, 10 p.m. (free)
This lineup showcases a group of Madison artists whose styles all draw heavily from punk, emo, and garage-rock, but interpret those influences in different ways. Opener Once A Month, a duo, plays stripped-down punk that falls in line with classic acts like Bikini Kill. Their 2016 split EP with fellow locals We Should Have Been DJs tackles modern misogyny head-on, with songs that call out behavior from ghosting to mansplaining. Chicago band Sonny Falls‘ 2016 LP There’s No Magic Left In This World is grunge-y and punkish in the terseness of its guitars and drums, but Eyan Ensley’s vocals make it more approachable. Madison-based Kenny Hoopla is labelled a rapper by many (including your correspondent) but might be more at home on this bill than among other local hip-hop artists. His latest artistic direction, on tracks like “Waves,” has leaned more toward rock than rap, borrowing an emo shell but subverting it with skillful vocal manipulation and idiosyncratic cadences. And finally, there’s Real Boy, an emo outfit. The scrappy live recordings on the band’s Soundcloud embody a classic garage aesthetic. Songs like “i used 2 be a frog” offer the kind of thrash and forlorn confession that all emo ought to. —Henry Solo
Hassles. Arts + Literature Laboratory, 8 p.m.
Chicago reed instrumentalist Ken Vandermark has performed in Madison a couple times in recent years, and returns here with Hassles, a new ensemble of adventurous, accomplished musicians, all of whom have a long history of playing together in some way or another. Dutch guitarist Terrie Ex is best known for his anarcho-punk outfit, The Ex, but has collaborated with Vandermark and percussionist Paal Nilssen-Love in free jazz project Lean Left (which includes guitarist Andy Moor, also of The Ex). Essentially a punk band in itself, Lean Left serves sped-up Downtown-y, No Wave vibes. The four-piece shares some of the brash attitude heard in The Ex, as well as the distinct, relentless intensity experienced in other Nilssen-Love/Vandermark jazz collaborations. Vandermark’s history with percussionist Paal Nilssen-Love can be traced back to over 15 years of their duo project. My guess as to what to expect on this night of sonic exploration and accomplished collaboration: A violent disregard for the barriers of punk and jazz, and an exhibition of sheer expression and a stirring, skronky cacophony. —Emili Earhart
SATURDAY JANUARY 13
Rare Plant Showcase III. High Noon Saloon, 8 p.m.
Based in Madison, the self-described “small tape label” Rare Plant has grown into a driving force in the Minneapolis-Madison-Milwaukee DIY connection. They’ve released a flurry of physical releases that range from solid to exciting, bringing locals like Trophy Dad or Proud Parents and the Twin Cities’ The Cult Of Lip under the same banner. Combing through Rare Plant’s catalog forges a sense that this region of the country, often thought of as a cultural backwater or Chicago-centric, has a sound and aesthetic of its own. The showcase doubles as a celebration for the release of Cave Curse’s new LP Future Dust, a densely layered sequence of synth-driven punk songs, heavily inspired by Digital Leather with a focus on spacey hooks and Bobby Hussy’s wild, Jay Reatard-esque vocal delivery. It’s the project’s debut full-length and its first release since Hussy solidified Cave Curse’s new live lineup with Ben Brooks and Tyler Spatz of Poney and No Hoax, and Emili Earhart of And Illusions (who writes for Tone Madison), though the album itself features just Hussy and drummer Will Gunnerson. With a stellar series of openers—Cult Of Lip, Proud Parents, Tippy, and Sundial Mottos—and DJ Lauden rounding out the night, this show is the celebration of Upper Midwest music we deserve. —Reid Kurkerewicz
SUNDAY JANUARY 14
Madison Celebrates Ted Offensive. High Noon Saloon, 5 p.m.
Ted Putnam, who died in November, spent years championing local music under the name DJ Ted Offensive on community radio station WORT. The Madison bands heard on his broadcasts, often in the form of live-in-studio performances, included (but weren’t limited to) a ton of punk rock and other heavy, noisy stuff. So it’s fitting that this community tribute to Putnam will feature live sets from dizzying math-rock eccentrics Transformer Lootbag, thrash-infused punk outfit No Hoax, stoner-metal band Droids Attack, and a large helping of smart-assed noise-rock from Pachinko, The Garza, and Powerwagon. Putnam was a musician himself, as well as a writer, and this event will also include speakers and other remembrances. —Scott Gordon
Winter Jazz Fest. North Street Cabaret, 6 p.m.
The Greater Madison Jazz Consortium, formed a few years back as a sort of coordinating umbrella for a handful of jazz-centered nonprofit organizations in town, has become a quietly transformative force in local music. Its Strollin’ and InDIGenous series highlight local and regional musicians performing their own compositions, and launched a grants program that funds the creation of original works. It helps that GMJC’s efforts have come along at a time when a lot of younger jazz artists are making their mark on Madison. This annual winter benefit concert helps to support some of that programming. This year, it features the fluid jazz/rock/electronic exploration of Major Vistas, Latin-jazz band Mambo Blue, and the vocal-centered outfit 2 Broads 1 Band. —Scott Gordon
Julian Lynch + Emili Earhart, Harper, Sleep Now Forever. Williamson Magnetic Recording Company, 8 p.m.
Madison-based musician Julian Lynch made a name for himself with a series of albums, starting with 2009’s Orange You Glad, that created a warm sense of immersion and a sturdy emotional pull with an ever-shifting mix of rippling guitars, woodwinds, gentle percussion, synths, and half-buried vocals. Songs like “Clay Horses,” from 2011’s Terra, and “Just Enough,” from 2010’s Mare, combine deceptively subdued, psychedelic production with a keen sense of melody and an indifference to genre barriers. His last solo release was 2013’s Lines, and over the past few years he’s been pursuing his PhD in ethnomusicology at UW-Madison, and joined New Jersey band Real Estate on guitar. However, he completed a new solo album for release in 2018, and will be playing an improvised show here with pianist Emili Earhart (who is also a Tone Madison contributor, and plays in projects including And Illusions and Cave Curse). Even during the height of the hype around his first couple releases, Lynch tended to play improvised and/or collaborative live sets about as often as he’d play his actual recorded material in a more straightforward band format, so this is as much a continuation of his established M.O. as the new songs he has in the can. Earhart’s work has ranged from disorienting electronic improvisations to rigorous performances of piano compositions by John Cage and Philip Glass, so you can safely expect a challenging and spaced-out performance when these two join forces. —Scott Gordon
TUESDAY JANUARY 16
Timecrimes. Union South Marquee, 7 p.m. (free)
Leading up to the Wisconsin Film Festival’s 20th anniversary in April, coordinators have been revisiting many of their past favorites in the form of a monthly “Tuesday Night Movie Clubs” at the Marquee in the campus hub of Union South. Last December, programmer Mike King introduced the deliriously enjoyable documentary excursion, The Cruise, which screened at the very first fest in 1999. The series’ first 2018 selection is the 2008 moody sci-fi feature debut, Timecrimes, from Spanish director Nacho Vigalondo (whose most recent feature, Colossal, made Capital Times critic Rob Thomas’ top 10 of 2017). Vigalondo brings the same unique genre synthesis and invigorating panache to the age-old concept of time travel here that he brought to his riff on the monster movie (Yongary) in Colossal. Timecrimes opens with stark voyeuristic curiosity in the Cantabria countryside, as middle-aged Héctor (Karra Elejalde) spies on a woman (Barbara Goenaga) undressing in the forest behind his house. This leads him to investigate, but he’s lured into a dizzying and disturbing sequence of events involving an assaulting Darkman-like figure cloaked in bandages. As Héctor flees for his safety, he stumbles upon a research lab owned by a prognosticating scientist (Vigalondo himself), who convinces him to take refuge in a strange mechanical contraption. Once Héctor emerges and realizes the space-time continuum has been altered by approximately one hour, he obstinately re-enters the world where another version of himself already exists. While similarities to Shane Carruth’s low-budget Primer (2004) and Rian Johnson’s Looper (2012) abound in this serpentine thriller on human identity, Timecrimes is also distinguished by its boldly dark humor. (Warning: trailer contains potential spoilers.) —Grant Phipps
Cap Times Talks: Kathy Cramer. High Noon Saloon, 7 p.m. (free)
UW-Madison political science professor Kathy Cramer’s insights into “rural consciousness” and her 2016 book The Politics Of Resentment have become as central to the discussion of politics in the Trump era as Hillbilly Elegy. But mercifully, Cramer bases her arguments on diligent and scholarly field work, rather than in J.D. Vance’s dangerous sentimentality for the heyday of white power. Cramer’s interviews with groups of people who regularly meet in their respective rural towns yields thought-provoking takes on everything from education to land use to the moral-superiority-complex of Madisonians. She rightly studies rural identity as one factor in the identity politics culture war, avoiding the sloppy shorthand that defines so many parachute-in profiles of so-called Trump country. As she develops her idea of the “rural lens,” it’s important to remember her own academic lens. To Cramer and her interviewees, small towns are indeed home to rampant sexism and racism, but so are our cities, so why the finger pointing? But one wonders why we shouldn’t call bigots what they are, something Cramer grappled with an interview with Scientific American. The interviewer asked, after Kramer describes how Clinton wasn’t “warm” enough as a female candidate to appeal to rural voters: “Isn’t that just sexism?” Cramer responded, “I’m not using that word, but I guess it is sexism.” Hopefully, Capital Times reporter Jessie Opoien, who interviews Cramer at this event, will ask why Cramer doesn’t use “that word,” when she knows exactly what’s going on. —Reid Kurkerewicz