The Man Who Fell To Earth, Battlerat, Azha, and more events of note in Madison this week. | By Scott Gordon, Joel Shanahan, Chris Lay, Mike Noto
THURSDAY JANUARY 21
The Man Who Fell To Earth. Union South Marquee, 6:30 p.m. (free)
It’s been more than a week now since we lost the closest thing the planet earth had to a real-live alien, David Bowie. If anything, in the wake of tragic losses like this, there are some excellent opportunities to publicly reevaluate/appreciate an artist’s body of work. While Bowie’s music will always be his most direct legacy, he was also a very talented actor—even if his first starring turn, as a literal alien searching our planet for water to take back to his home planet in Nicolas Roeg’s 1976 film The Man Who Fell To Earth, was practically typecasting. It’s a confoundingly trippy and heartfelt sci-fi classic that stands as an example of just how far out thing got back then (three words: Rip Torn wang). Despite its own Criterion number[https://www.criterion.com/films/755-the-man-who-fell-to-earth] (now sadly long out of print), it’s still widely overlooked in the genre’s canon, so defintiely don’t miss your shot at seeing it on the big screen at the Marquee this week. —Chris Lay
Modern Mod, Surgeons In Heat, Post Social, Trophy Dad. High Noon Saloon, 8 p.m.
Four Madison high-school kids founded Modern Mod in 2012, and they developed an endearing, sparkly-yet-subdued take on guitar pop. Their one album, 2014’s Tunnels, captured a band with a surprisingly mature grasp of songwriting and gentle dynamics, with Emily Massey’s voice lending a morose intimacy to standout tracks like “Monday Mornings,” “January,” and “Undefined.” This show will be Modern Mod’s last, but other members will remain active in local bands including Post Social and Dash Hounds. —Scott Gordon
Barry Rothbart. Comedy Club on State, through January 23, see link for all showtimes.
Back during the 1980s stand-up boom, there was a preponderance of comedians who talked roughly about dicks and farts and sex and relationships, and then when that crashed the ’90s “indie” boom of more thoughtful and comedy pushed different boundaries. After all this time the trajectory has ended up back at dicks and farts (and honestly, if you’ve attended many open mics you might say that it never left), but there’s a level of disarming self-awareness there for the best of the folks who choose to go down that well-worn path. Barry Rothbart is a pretty charming vessel for this style of low-level gross out humor, but the real fun here is how well he rolls with an audience and handily balances excellent crowd-work skills with polished material. Fans of The Wolf Of Wall Street (and autograph hounds in general?) should bring their DVDs to get signed, since he played the bit part of “Peter Deblasio” in that 2013 Scorsese joint. —CL
Bad Cinema: The Wicker Man. Central Library, 6:30 p.m. (free)
Want to find out what it takes for a film to get a 15 percent rating on Rotten Tomatoes? Well, here’s your chance! Neil LaBute’s 2006 remake of Anthony Shaffer’s brilliantly moody 1973 cult-classic horror film The Wicker Man manages to miss the point of the original by a country mile, and muddles it all with terrible CGI and an abysmally (though entertaining) over-the-top performance from Nicolas Cage as an inspector on the trail of a missing child on a creepy remote island populated by “neo-pagans.” If all you know about the film is “NOT THE BEES!” and you for some reason want to know more, I can’t imagine a better setting than this room full of other bad-film afficionadoes chering and jeering along with every terrible cinematic decision that will get paraded across the screen. Here’s a fun fact to take into the screening with you: Cage, in a typically unexpected Cage-ian move, dedicated the film to Johnny Ramone, who had died a year or so prior to filming. —CL
FRIDAY JANUARY 22
(Barry Rothbart continues on Friday.)
Hitchcock/Truffaut. Vilas Hall, 7 p.m. (free)
Important documentaries need a conceptual hook or else they’re much more likely to get passed over in the streaming glut of nonfiction works out there. It’s not enough to just tell the story of Hitchcock with the usual gang of fawning talking heads and Burns-effected archival footage, so the new Hitchcock/Truffaut chooses a different starting point altogether. Building his illuminating narrative off of the titular book of collected interviews between Alfred Hitchcock and Francois Truffaut, director Kent Jones uses some traditional documentary tropes to spin outward and present the complex stories of Hitchcock (and to a lesser degree Truffaut), Hitchcock’s cinematic influence, and the influence of the book itself. This looks like an excellent intro for Hitchcock newbies that will also have some fascinating new insights for jaded movie nerds. —CL
Tommy Stinson, Trapper Schoepp, The American Dead. Frequency, 9 p.m.
While Tommy Stinson’s work as bassist for Minneapolis legends The Replacements (as well as his longtime place in Guns’N’Roses) casts a mammoth shadow that’s impossible to escape, we’re still hesitant to relegate his self-branded touring unit to complete “nostalgia act” status. After all, Stinson has released a couple of solo albums (2004’s Village Gorilla Head and 2011’s One Man Mutiny) that safely—but effectively—toe the line between power-pop and alt-country. It’s also worth mentioning that the two tunes featured on last year’s L.M.A.O. 7” offered more than the single’s deceptively doofy cover art and title would let on. “Breathing Room” could generously be referred to as a “nod” to Replacements’ fave “Favorite Things,” but it still works as a functionally sugary, jangling power-pop jam, soaked in surf-tinged riffing and Stinson’s grittily howled melodies. —Joel Shanahan
Battlerat, Wood Chickens, Negative Example. Mickey’s Tavern, 10:30 p.m. (free)
It’s been several years since multi-instrumentalist, musical saw maestro, and former Madisonian Celeste Heule and her former bandmates in Sleeping In The Aviary packed up for the Twin Cities. Since Sleeping In The Aviary disbanded in 2012, Heule has been hard at work both refining her songwriting chops and forming a full band around her longtime solo moniker Battlerat. With a lineup boasting former SITA bassist Phil Mahlstadt and Kitty Rhombus guitarist-vocalist Ian Stenlund, a more collaborative version of Battlerat will swing through with its freshly released EP Spoils in tow. It’s an immersive and piano-powered pop-rock collection that features Heule’s powerful and breathy crooning over twisting chord progressions, slinky bass parts, and even some dialed-in, odd-meter grooves on “Senseless.” —JS
SATURDAY JANUARY 23
(Barry Rothbart continues on Saturday.)
The Exile Project Does The White Album. High Noon Saloon, 9 p.m.
Look, who knows how an evening covering The White Album in its entirety, orchestrated by the folks who did the same with Exile On Main St. last year, will work out on a musical level—it’s an over-the-top risk no matter how you cut it. But I do know that this show boasts a solid, if unwieldy, cast of local musicians, from former Tar Babies leader Bucky Pope to German Art Students singer/guitarist Annelies Howell to producer Jordan Cohen, aka Chants. A few of the more than two dozen musicians involved joined me this week for an in-depth conversation about Beatles covers. —SG
Arabian Nights. Vilas Hall, 1 p.m. (free)
I remember watching all three Red Riding films in one sitting at the Wisconsin Film Festival a few years back, and thinking, “Whoa, this is one hell of a commitment I am making to watching movies!” But then along came Portuguese filmmaker Miguel Gomes’ new Arabian Nights triptych, with its six hour-plus collected run time, and now I know the true meaning of motion-picture masochism. An updated Portuguese take on the epic stories told by Scheherazade, it’s a dreamily fantastic marathon that’s worth running though, and it’s doubtful you’ll get another opportunity to watch all three installments end to end like this anytime soon. All three installments screen back-to-back here (starting at 1, 3:30, and 7 p.m., respectively), with breaks in between. —CL
Arts + Literature Laboratory Grand Opening. Arts + Literature Laboratory (2021 Winnebago St.), 6 p.m.
The new East Side venue Arts + Literature Laboratory has been going for a couple months now, gradually ramping up programming that includes art shows, live music, writers’ workshops, and poetry readings. The space also aims to be a resource beyond hosting events, with efforts including a library of small-press publications. This grand-opening celebration will celebrate a new art show, Select A World by Simone Doing and Max Puchalsky, and the festivities will include a spontaneous writing booth where patrons can submit an idea (and a donation) and receive a poem written on the spot. For more about ALL, check out our recent podcast interview with founder Jolynne Roorda. —SG
Enhasa, Gonzo Rongs, Colonel. Mickey’s Tavern, 10:30 p.m. (free)
SUNDAY JANUARY 24
Azha, Julian Lynch, Spires That In The Sunset Rise, Conjuror. Arts + Literature Laboratory, 7 p.m.
Toward the end of 2015, Kathleen Baird of bizarro folk duo Spires That In The Sunset Rise and Andrew Fitzpatrick of Noxroy, All Tiny Creatures, Volcano Choir, and Bon Iver unveiled Celestial Meadows, the duo’s debut release as Azha. Clocking in at just over 37 minutes, this longform piece is really a gorgeous series of minimalist movements that find Baird’s fluttering flute lines and soaring vocal layers woven into Fitzpatrick’s deep sonic processing, effectively tunneling the listener through a network of warped aural wonderlands. In addition to a rare live set from Azha, this show will also feature a collaboration between Spires That In The Sunset Rise, woodwind experimentalist Julian Lynch, and moody synthesist Ian Adcock under his Conjuror guise. —JS
The Minotaurs, Wad, Tippy. High Noon Saloon, 8 p.m.
Chicago band Wad makes melancholic garage pop with intertwining, reverb-heavy guitars and distinctive dual vocals. On their 2014 EP Dorcilla, the pseudonymous Strawberry Shake’s athletic, mannered alto combines with rhythm guitarist Skooch’s (told you about the fake names) huskily emotive baritone for a youthful take on contemporary indie. At their best, the band’s decision to have their two vocalists sing different lines of lyrics simultaneously provides an interesting stream of conflicting perspectives for the listener. Sure, Wad tend to reach for emotions that their songwriting can’t quite grasp yet, but there’s enough going on instrumentally and vocally, especially in songs like “Hedges” and the intriguing title track, to show they’re moving toward something that could be their own. They’ll be joined at this show by two Madison bands: Tippy, a new project headed by Christian Dior guitarist Spencer Bible, and riff-happy garage rockers Minotaurs. —Mike Noto
An Evening At Maria’s. Art In (1444 E. Washington Ave.), 6 p.m.
TUESDAY JANUARY 26
Super Serious Singer Songwriter Night: Alejandra Perez. Mickey’s Tavern, 10:30 p.m. (free)
Alejandra Perez sings, plays guitar, and writes the songs in Madison band Tarpaulin, whose Homesick EP was among our top 20 Madison records of 2015, and previously she also sang in Madison twee-pop band Automatically Yours. Perez will play a rare solo-acoustic set here as part of the Super Serious Singer Songwriter Night series, hosted by The Midwest Beat’s Matt Joyce. Expect acoustic renditions of Tarpaulin songs, but also covers—Perez says she’s working up numbers from Grimes and Phox, among others—as well as some solo and collaborative contributions from Joyce. Perez recently set us an acoustic version of Homesick‘s title track, which you can listen to right here. —SG
Cap Times Talks: How Many New Apartments Does Madison Need? High Noon Saloon, 6:30 p.m. (free)
Real-estate developers are remaking Madison at an astonishing pace, sprouting pricey new apartments faster than we can process what it means for the character and economy of the city. So whether you’re concerned about getting priced out or see all this as a welcome mat for an influx of millennial saviors, you might welcome a chance to take in the bigger picture at this event discussion hosted by The Capital Times. Reporter Laurel White will moderate a discussion with a panel that includes developers, city officials, a UW-Madison business professor, and advocates for students and low-income renters. (You can also get some perspective on this from our recent Tone Cluster podcast on the changing face of downtown Madison.) I’m currently starting a pool on how many new high-rise projects will break ground before the panel adjourns. —SG
WEDNESDAY JANUARY 27
Brown Derby. High Noon Saloon, 8 p.m.
Madison country band Brown Derby (full name Earl Foss And The Brown Derby) built up a deep repertoire of covers and originals during a 10-year residency at the Crystal Corner Bar. During that time, they also honed a sound built on Andrew Harrison’s stinging lead guitar and John Kunert’s versatile baritone vocals (and developed some of the most hysterically profane stage banter I’ve ever heard). They’re standing alone on the bill at this show, so you can expect something that recalls those extended, diverse, and deftly played Crystal shows. —SG