The new Wipe Me Down dance night, Babes In Toyland, Roar, and more events of note in Madison this week. | By Joel Shanahan, Mike Noto, Chris Lay, Scott Gordon
THURSDAY JANUARY 28
Ian Edwards. Comedy Club on State, through January 30, see link for all showtimes.
About a year and a half ago, Conan O’Brien started up a record label, seemingly with the intention of putting out comedy records, but it only got as far as 100% Half Assed, the debut album from Ian Edwards. Between Edwards’ rich and distinctive observational material, his finely tuned sense of timing, and his ability to casually twist the normal into the absurd on a dime, you can see exactly what it was that landed him the apparently (sadly?) one-off deal from such an oddly high-profile boutique label. Bronston Jones features and Madison comedian Ian Erickson hosts. —Chris Lay
Tokyo Story. Union South Marquee, 6:30 p.m. (free)
When I stopped in at the Union South Marquee this past weekend to catch a screening of The Martian, the one oddball trailer for upcoming flicks that stood out was the one for Yasujirō Ozu’s 1953 film Tokyo Story. A couple is awoken in the middle of the night by a police officer dropping off two drunk men, one of whom is the woman’s father, and the other man is anyone’s guess since the father is too drunk to let anyone in on the mystery. Cut to: “The Tokyo Story, Thursday Jan. 28, Union South Marquee, 6:30 p.m. ” and that was it. I’m not sure how effective this advertising ploy is gonna go for them, but fingers crossed some folks were intrigued enough to make it out for this profoundly deep teacup-sized story (one of Roger Ebert’s personal favorites) about two family reunions, of a sort, that manages to cut across cultural lines by frankly yet poetically tapping into the breadth of universally shared experiences. —CL
Bad Wig, The Fatal Eggs, The Momotaros. Mr. Robert’s, 9 p.m.
Milwaukee outfit Bad Wig (formerly known as The Midwestern Charm) put out a self-titled EP last year whose liner notes self-deprecatingly describe its production as “recorded in a lung by two dingbats.” But from that scratchy, crammed-in feel and bare-bones instrumentation, Bad Wig creates five tracks of engaging and warm power-pop, at a pace that’s sometimes frantic (“Sunset Vomits Blue”) and sometimes restrained and flexible (“Some Kids Burn”). They play here with Madison bands The Fatal Eggs and The Momotaros, the latter featuring members of Dharma Dogs and Coordinated Suicides. —Scott Gordon
Josh Ritter, Elephant Revival. Barrymore, 7:30 p.m.
FRIDAY JANUARY 29
Sweet Charity. Vilas Hall, 7 p.m. (free)
Far be it from the UW Cinematheque programmers to ever take a straight-ahead look at a series theme, and thankfully so. For this season’s Musicals Of 1969 series, they could’ve done the expected and given us Hello, Dolly! or Elvis Presley’s troubled The Trouble With Girls (co-starring VIncent Price!), but instead we get some lesser-known deep cuts to sink our teeth into. First up is Bob Fosse’s directorial debut, Sweet Charity. Adapted from Neil Simon’s musical take on the Fellini film Nights Of Cabiria, Charity stars Shirley MacLaine as a put-upon “taxi dancer” (whatever that is) who is looking for love to redeem the less-than-satisfactory life she finds herself in. There are lots of wonderful moments, including Sammy Davis, Jr. somewhat inexplicably stopping in for a song and, if you look close, you can spot Bud Cort, Ben Vereen, and even the eventual “Mickey” singer Toni Basil lurking in various corners. —CL
Babes In Toyland, Porcupine, Powerwagon. High Noon Saloon, 9 p.m.
Minneapolis punk trio Babes In Toyland decided to reunite in 2014, and since then have toured sporadically. They were poriginally part of the ’90’s underground grunge and noise explosion, had a sterling reputation as a live act, and were notably relentless even compared to many of their contemporaries. Kat Bjelland’s viciously sarcastic howl had an oddly similar tonality to the fizzing, corrosive edge of her guitar sound. That abrasively layered effect was never better exploited than on 1992’s album Fontanelle, which offered diversions like the strangely unsettling instrumental “Quiet Room” in addition to the band’s standard razor-wire approach, and still stands as their best album. In 2015, Fontanelle-era bassist Maureen Herman left the band over ethical conflicts with drummer Lori Barbero, and Clara Salyer of Minneapolis band Whatever Forever was chosen as her replacement. Despite this member turnover, however, the band’s performances promise to remain as powerful as ever. —Mike Noto
Timespace is a one-off techno party coordinated by the Madison-based Foshizzle Family DJ crew, featuring up and coming Madison-based DJs Gynis and Lil’ BlaQ, as well as longtime staple, former Jolly Bob’s resident, and Ucarri Maze member Umi. Aside from the reputation all three DJs have earned as tasteful and diverse selectors, this party is extra special in that it’s a Madison dance night that isn’t completely dominated by dudes, in a broader local DJ scene where women are horribly underrepresented. Even though there’s still a lot of work to be done (including by Tone Madison, as we’re sporadic show curators), we’re excited to see this glimmer of progress and hope a trend of increasingly diverse DJ nights will continue snowballing forward. —Joel Shanahan
Pollinators, Gosh, Oedipus Tex. Mickey’s Tavern, 10:30 p.m. (free)
A collaboration between longtime Madisonian pop-rock staple Tom Teslik, his ex-TT & The Nite Owls bandmate (and co-songwriter) Cole Haman, and drummer Matt Magnusson, Pollinators played its first show back in July of 2015, which broke a long hiatus that Teslik had taken from performing. The trio is currently at work on their debut EP for Madison-based imprint Rare Plant and, while we only really have a handful of crude demos to go on, Pollinators seem to be plowing deeper into Teslik’s sunny universe of sugary, guitar-powered, and twisting rock tunes written with heavily Beatles-inspired and meticulous melodic detail. —JS
Wipe Me Down. Frequency, 9:30 p.m.
Madison label Catch Wreck had a great and diverse run between 2014 and early 2015, but has been pretty quiet since putting out CRASHprez’s album More Perfect almost a year ago. Label co-owner Ian Carroll, also known for his production work as *hitmayng, hopes to move the new Wipe Me Down dance night to different cities in the Midwest every month or two, with different guest DJs at each one. The inaugural one will feature DJ sets from Carroll and Kenny Hoopla, and a set from CRASHprez. Carroll, for his part, is planning to do some actual scratching amid a two-hour set spanning footwork, 2000’s rap, dancehall, and more. —SG
SATURDAY JANUARY 30
Roar. Union South Marquee, 11 p.m. (free)
If you missed Noel Marshall’s 1981 labor-of-love animal thriller Roar at the 2015 Wisconsin Film Festival, that’s understandable, since it was one of the hotter tickets of the fest. With a poster that reads “No animals were harmed in the making of this film. 70 cast and crew members were,” how can you not want see this thing play out onscreen? It’s an interesting turnabout here, where the actual film ends up being significantly less interesting than the stories surrounding the actual filming process—which was beset by the kind of non-stop injuries you’d expect when you’re filming with actually wild lions that are going about the very lion-like business of being scarily liony. Cinematographer (and eventual acclaimed director in his own right) Jan de Bont required 220 stitches after being scalped by a lion, and Marshall himself was gored so many times that he was eventually hospitalized with gangrene. The audience walks in thinking “There’s no way they really did this” and walks out knowing “Holy shit what the fuck… they ACTUALLY did that!” —CL
No Home Movie. Vilas Hall, 3:30 and 7:30 p.m. (free)
I Don’t Belong Anywhere. Vilas Hall, 6 p.m.
In tribute to famed experimental filmmaker Chantal Ackerman, who died in October 2015, UW Cinematheque will offer two screenings of her final film, No Home Movie, and a single screening of the not-quite-feature-length documentary I Don’t Belong Anywhere: The Cinema Of Chantal Akerman. If reports are to be believed, No Home Movie is a bit muddled in its attempt to explore the larger-than-life concepts of everything from various means of communication, technology, and the swiftly approaching death of Ackerman’s mother, who survived Auschwitz. I Don’t Belong Anywhere, directed by Marianne Lambert, is a slightly different beast in that it tackles the comparatively down-to-earth topic of Ackerman’s nearly 50-year career as a filmmaker, putting her work and visual language into broader context. I’m not quite sure what to make of the unique and interesting presentation structure that gives the audience the choice to choose how they want to order their own Ackerman adventure, but if you’re interested in either film, embrace the freedom of choice. —CL
Fire Retarded, The Rashita Joneses, The Midwest Beat. Mickey’s Tavern, 10:30 p.m. (free)
Madison/Milwaukee power-pop institution The Midwest Beat have spiraled through and triumphed over several shake-ups over the years, which include (but aren’t limited to) the departure of bassist Logan Kayne, as well as vocalist-guitarist Matt Joyce temporarily relocating to Stevens Point for academic pursuits. Joyce is living in Madison again and says it’s been far easier to focus on the band. Joyce reports that the band is working on a bunch of new songs to follow up their most recent album, 2014’s Free Of Being, and hope to have it out by the end of the summer. The new material will hopefully both revisit and build upon the infectious, concise, and jangling gems of their back catalog. —JS
SUNDAY JANUARY 31
The Virgin Spring. Chazen Museum of Art, 2 p.m. (free)
In recent years UW Cinematheque has used its Sunday 2 p.m. slot in the Chazen’s screening room for season-long deep dives, with previous subjects including Alfred Hitchcock and Studio Ghibli among others. This season takes a headlong run at the works of Swedish art-house legend Ingmar Bergman, with no less than one dozen of the director’s films, all in black and white and on 35mm prints. It kicks off with 1960’s The Virgin Spring, a tale of a vengeful father who’s after the men who raped and murdered his daughter. The film won the Oscar for Best Foreign Film, and, was the inspiration, however loosely, for Wes Craven’s directorial debut The Last House On The Left, which is screening the following day at Union South. —CL
Disco Brunch. Nattspil, 11 a.m.to 3 p.m.
This week’s installment of the self-explanatory (and somewhat irregular) Disco Brunch residency goes down at Nattspil, as a couple of Madison’s most obsessive crate diggers—inimitable deck-wizard Vilas Park Sniper and deep selector DJ Zukas—soundtrack your dumpling devourment with rare grooves. VPS recently posted a new mix to promote the gig, and you can give that a listen below. —JS
Micro-Wave Cinema: For The Plasma. Vilas Hall, 7 p.m. (free)
Interestingly enough, the film that most easily comes to mind as a reference point for Micro-Wave Cinema season opener For The Plasma is How The Sky Will Melt, which screened under the Micro-Wave banner last year. From the first-time directing duo of Bingham Bryant and Kyle Molzan, 2014’s For The Plasma uses similar horror and sci-fi tropes to steadily build up a dense fog of dread around two women who are using wilderness-based CCTV feeds to predict market forces (or something?) while peppering its edges with the same, though significantly subtler, 1980s tech fetishizing flourishes. The hip ironic distance is still there, as is a jaunty synth-driven soundtrack, but the gap is narrowing to the point of near mootness, resulting in a tonally perfect film to kick off the season. —CL
MONDAY FEBRUARY 1
The Last House On The Left. Union South Marquee, 7 p.m. (free)
Wes Craven’s 1972 directorial debut, The Last House On The Left, takes the barest minimum of plot from Ingmar Bergman’s The Virgin Spring (screening on Sunday at the Chazen), and essentially updates the latter’s story of a vengeful father with the much-needed element of chainsaws. This is far and away one of the most ground-out grindhouse features ever made, and I mean that in the best way imaginable. Be forewarned, though, that the uncut and unrated version will be screened here, in 35mm. —CL
TUESDAY FEBRUARY 2
Trump Vs. Bernie. Majestic, 8:30 p.m.
Getting political comedy right is hard. If it’s rooted too deeply in passionate anger (however justified that might be), you’re just yelling things, and if you water it down too much then you’re Mark Russell at his piano wearing a boating cap. Taking up the challenge of riding that fine line, we have a touring mock debate between the cartoony anchors of either party’s furthest end, Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump, as staged by comedians James Adomian and Anthony Atamanuik, respectively. Given Madison’s well-known left-leaning nature, there’s an element of preaching to the choir here, but it seems like Adomian and Atamanuik, both of whom are absolute masters at impressions and improvisation, are much more invested in putting on an entertaining show than concretely stumping for or against either candidate, and that’s is where the sweet spot of this sort of oddball-comedy beast of a format lies. —CL
WEDNESDAY FEBRUARY 3
Proper Method. Cardinal, 10 p.m.
Local DJs Radish and Wangzoom’s monthly residency Proper Method generally steers away from the traditional comforts of house and techno, instead honing in on explorations in bass music. This month’s installment finds Radish and Wangzoom taking a backseat to host Milwaukee-based producers and DJs Zero Tep and Ian Ewing. In their production, both artists operate within the Nuh Music collective and label, sharing a penchant for deeply arranged and heavily polished electronic compositions that boast busted grooves, intensely designed and jazzy synth-lines with heavily detailed automation that swells, pops, and wanders across the frequency spectrum. Meanwhile the low end is filled out with massive, booming, and functionally melodic sub-bass. —JS
Madison’s Funniest Comic Competition, Preliminary Round. Comedy Club on State, 9 p.m.
The result of the annual Madison’s Funniest Comic Competition matters less than the six-week process the competition has ballooned into over the years. That process is as excruciating as it is entertaining, drawing out Madison’s tenacious stand-up regulars and hapless randos in equal measure. Starting this week, the competition returns with two rounds of preliminaries that will accommodate anywhere from 80 to 100 entrants—basically a marathon continuum of the accomplished, those working toward a solid stand-up voice, and the oh god who let that guy have a microphone. Full disclosure: I’m one of the guest judges for the preliminaries, so I’ll be enduring this right along with you. —SG