Rooftop Cinema, Siren, Homeboy Sandman, Robert Fripp, and more events of note in Madison this week. | By Scott Gordon, Chris Lay, Joel Shanahan
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THURSDAY JUNE 2
Films where criminals commandeer remote locations from their rightful inhabitants tend to tip towards a horror vibe. Roman Polanski’s third film, Cul-De-Sac, plays well with the psychological aspects of that trope (his previous film, the cerebral thriller Repulsion, was a perfect warmup), but adds an unexpected layer of absurdist pathos. When two American gangsters, played by Lionel Stander and Jack MacGowran, who were wounded (one mortally) in a botched robbery show up on the doorstep of an English seaside castle and claim it and its inhabitants as their own for the duration of their laying-low, a very unexpected and peculiar spin on Stockholm Syndrome sets in. Cul-De-Sac is one of Polanski’s early masterpieces, and worth catching on the big screen with an audience. It screens here as part of Madison Public Library’s Central Cinema Cinesthesia lineup. —Chris Lay
Aesop Rock would have to rank among hip-hop’s most slippery and challenging lyricists, braiding together rhymes that combine fundamental narrative skill with the syllabic equivalent of cubist pile-ups. His new album The Impossible Kid blends that density with a few personal and vulnerable moments, making for one of the most rewarding listens of his career. On “Blood Sandwich” he recalls a traumatic childhood incident involving a gopher; on “Lotta Years” he questions the value of good hair and arty tattoos; on “Rings” he raps about painting in lines with characteristically elaborate internal structure. It’s just as worth attending this show for a set from NYC rapper Homeboy Sandman, who recently released the new album Kindness For Weakness. Like much of his previous work, it’s never formulaic but always explosively him, whether he’s calling out the Huffington Post on “Talking Shit” or unloading about an awkward crush on “Sly Fox.” Aesop Rock and Homeboy Sandman also teamed up for the free 2015 EP Lice, which showcases the more fun and lighthearted side of both MCs in a quick but worthwhile five tracks. —Scott Gordon
For their homecoming from a spring tour, Madison band Fire Retarded will be sharing the bill with three Wisconsin outfits that decidedly offset their volatile garage-punk aesthetic. In Gloss Coats, formerly Santiago, Chile-based musicians Michaela Boman and Hernán Díaz have teamed up with three Madisonians to continue the work of their previous project, The Dagger Complex. The music their recorded under their old name combines stately dream-pop dynamics with an occasional burst of something heavier. Rounding out the billowy vibe are the synth-streaked, occasionally punchy Milwaukee outfit No/No and Madison electro-pop band Neens. —SG
FRIDAY JUNE 3
American animator Don Hertzfeldt has now been nominated for two Academy Awards, and his most recent work, 2015’s World Of Tomorrow, was hailed by many critics as not just one of the best shorts of that year, but one of the most affecting films, full stop. Hertzfeldt’s aesthetic might seem outwardly crude, with glorified stick figures representing human counterparts, but their abstracted nature helps to convey unexpectedly rich emotions. MMoCA’s “Summer of Animation”-themed Rooftop Cinema series will kick off with a quartet of Hertzfeldt’s early works that, taken together, trace a nice arc from his beginnings with 1997’s Lily And Jim up to 2005’s The Meaning Of Life. The latter marked a shift in his production values and pointed towards the comparatively mature depth of everything that would come after. In between we’ll get to see his two best-known works, 1998’s Billy’s Balloon (seen below) and 2000’s Rejected, the latter of which earned Hertzfeld his first Oscar nod. As anyone who’s a fan of these works will tell you, part of the joy in these shorts is sharing them with others, so I definitely recommend bringing a friend who has no clue what they’re getting into, for maximum enjoyment. —CL
Broom Street Theater’s current play, Spread The Nudes, documents the ups and downs of a band shooting to keep their gig as openers for a DC Talk reunion tour after they have to replace their drummer and settle on a Jew. Conceived by Milwaukee’s Giant Spider Productions, the play fits right in with the consistently inconsistent output over at Broom Street Theater, and involves no actual nudity, but lands squarely in the center of what remains of my leftover Christian guilt. Here’s hoping it will provide plenty of campy mid-’90s mega-church nostalgia for anyone who went through that uniquely hellish experience. —CL
After reading Robert Fripp’s manifesto of sorts on the Chamber Orchestra Of Crafty Guitarists’ website, it feels as though the legendary producer, sound designer, King Crimson guitarist, and creator of Frippertronics (a tape-looping method employed by Fripp and a wealth of other prolific composers and producers) had his way, his name would be nowhere to be found on the bill for any of their upcoming shows. Primarily because the point of this ensemble seems to be about the entire mass of acoustic guitarists—likely performing in Fripp’s custom New American Standard tuning—working as one unit. The orchestra forms a circle around its conductor and summons a series of gorgeously dissonant orchestral whirlwinds and soundscapes that are glued together with communicative visual cues and selfless discipline. —Joel Shanahan
A brain-twisting duo consisting of Noxroy mastermind and multitasking experimentalist Andrew Fitzpatrick (of Bon Iver, Volcano Choir, and All Tiny Creatures) and Czarbles’ drum acrobat Jeff Sauer, the Madison-based Cap Alan sculpt anetherworld of sonic possibilities with their mutant blend of off-kilter rhythms and live modular synth explorations. The duo have been long at work on a full-length album, which they teased a couple of sessions from with last year’s appropriately titled single Squelted Amaxolat / The Trinned Moarth Would, which you can jam below. This bill also features Control guitarist Stephen Baraboo’s solo guitar odyssey Stephen And His Echo. —JS
Milwaukee singer Katie Lafond, aka Siren, uses her voice to slip playfully but menacingly between hooks and atmosphere in eccentric works of hip-hop and R&B songwriting. On tracks like her 2015 single “Medusa,” Lafond (a member of the New Age Narcissism crew that also launched WebsterX and Lex Allen) gives us some solid melodies up front but also layers her vocals into eerie harmonies. In her features and collaborations, like on WebsterX’s “Doomsday,” she uses a variety of vocal timbers to flesh out the texture as much as she does the melodies. Here she’ll perform with Madison-based hip-hop outfit Me EN YOU, who will also be playing a set of their own. Don’t forget to read our new feature on Me EN YOU.
The Frequency came along when Madison really needed a decent small music venue downtown, and though some things have changed over the years—namely a heavier focus on national touring artists—it still plays that crucial role. Even after a blow-up earlier this year over hip-hop shows, Frequency owners Darwin Sampson and Dana Pellebon have made a community-spirited effort to find solutions. This weekend the venue celebrates its 8th anniversary with two shows. Night one features Madison’s DJ Lovecraft spinning before/between local rock outfits Sir! No Sir, Cold Black River, and The Malcolmexicans. Night two boasts a lineup of post-punk crushers Dick The Bruiser, euphorically catchy sickos Cribshitter, and psych-punk trio The Hussy. —SG
SATURDAY JUNE 4
Of the few tunes that Brooklyn-based singer-songwriter René Kladzyk has teased from Hope Is Never, her bleakly titled debut album as Ziemba, “El Paso” is the one we’ve been obsessively coming back to. It’s an uptempo pop-rock journey that’s somehow as indebted to solo Michael Rother as it is to The Doors’ “L.A. Woman” (sorry). And while Kladzyk’s hypnotic melodies and sharp songwriting glue the tune together, it’s the wild synth flourishes and expressive guitar leads that really color it in. Meanwhile, tunes like “It Curls Itself” and “With The Fire” are slower-burning affairs, with the former being a heart-wrenchingly angelic a capella piece that showcases the flexibility and range of Kladzyk’s mighty voice and the latter going down a more fleshed-out, straight-ahead, and moody path. Hope Is Never is slated for a June 24 release. —JS
Rated Her, the all-female acoustic and comedy hour that happens every month at The Frequency, remains an overstuffed bounty of talented local performers. Musical group Imaginary Watermelon headlines, with comedy from Allie Lindsay, Bekah Cosgrove, and Cynthia Marie, as well as acoustic sets by Morgan Rae, and Maya Robinson (accompanied by Shannon Calloway). Not enough for ya? There’s a 30-minute open mic kicking things off right when they open the doors at 7pm, so get there early if you’re a glutton for punishment by way of entertainment. —CL
TUESDAY JUNE 7
While the mystical crooning that soared across Los Angeles-based folk artist Itasca’s amicably haunting 2014 full-length Unmoored By The Wind was absent, Kayla Cohen’s latest entry—2015’s Ann’s Tradition—zoomed in on her affecting, finger-picked guitar work. Unsurprisingly, the series of raw instrumentals still managed to tell their own stories, be it the waltzing, breezy chords of “Southern Angel,” the crude, distant warble of “Morning,” or the entrancing cruise of “Turning To Me.” It’s tough to listen to Cohen’s raga-like guitar work and not allow your mind to journey deep into imaginary fields and grab away at fading memories in warm climes that couldn’t feel further away from her home base of Los Angeles. —JS
WEDNESDAY JUNE 8
Madison singer-songwriter Luke Arvid released his third album, Day Of The Build2r, back in January, but is just now getting around to celebrating it at this show, playing with a full band and throwing in a CD copy for everyone who pays the cover. A companion to last year’s Day Of The Bu1lder (one of our top 20 Madison records of 2015), Build2r at times brings out the more somber aspects of Arvid’s mild-mannered folk-rock. On songs like “Ladder Moments” “Phoenix,” and especially album closer “Rings Of Blue,” the sound breathes a bit more than on his previous work, and his stories take on a more gloomy, existential bent. Arvid and band share the bill here with another lovably eccentric Madison folk outfit, Faux Fawn. —SG
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