Screaming Females, Paul de Jong, House And Land, Sissy Spacek, and more events of note in Madison this week. | By Scott Gordon, Maija Inveiss, Chris Lay, Joel Shanahan
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THURSDAY JUNE 23
Melvin And Howard. Vilas Hall, 7 p.m. (free)
Jonathan Demme’s early career is filled with some strange little grindhouse flicks that were able to fall just on the classy side of drive-in fare, thanks to his ability to charge them with an undeniably distinctive worldview. Demme got his start working under Roger Corman, after all, so it’s no wonder that his films still have a bit of grime to them even after he moved past exploitation flicks like Caged Heat. One of his more overlooked films from that era of artistic growing pains is 1980’s Melvin And Howard. Screenwriter Bo Goldman, relatively fresh off an Oscar win for One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest, based his work on the true story of a Utah service station owner who claimed he had a handwritten will from Howard Hughes that awarded him millions and millions of dollars. In Demme’s film, Paul Le Mat (who earned a Golden Globe nomination for his work here) and Jason Robards play the titular duo, and we get Mary Steenburgen and Dabney Coleman in bit parts. While it’s not the best from Demme, Melvin And Howard will still be a fun treat for anyone who just knows him as the dude who directed The Silence Of The Lambs. —Chris Lay
Paul de Jong. Crescendo, 7:30 p.m.
Cellist and sound experimenter Paul de Jong formed one-half of The Books, a duo that combined massive troves of found-sound samples, stringed instruments, and electronic-music techniques into four witty and strangely touching albums between 2000 and their breakup in 2012. The other half, Nick Zammuto, got right back into things with his solo project Zammuto, but de Jong didn’t put out a solo record until last year’s If. Tracks like “Auction Block” and “This Is Who I Am” recall The Books’ more rambunctious sample-and-rhythm collages. But this record also gets far more sparse and somber than The Books ever did, and lets the cello carry much more of the weight, especially on “Golden Gate,” “Debt Free,” and “Age Of The Sea.” De Jong has played at least a couple shows with a live band since If came out, but on this tour he’s announced that he’ll be playing with cello, bass guitar, and laptop, accompanied by some projections. —Scott Gordon
Screaming Females, The Midwest Beat, Heavy Looks. Frequency, 8:30 p.m.
Thanks in part to a relentless touring schedule, New Brunswick, New Jersey’s Screaming Females have developed into one of the tightest and most pummeling bands on the DIY alt-punk circuit. Without slighting the rhythm section, a lot of this has to do with the presence of shredhead guitarist and vocalist Marissa Paternoster, whose wailing melodies, warm riffing, and nasty solos summon the perfect balance of power and pop sugar. We’re still awaiting a follow-up to 2015’s excellent Rose Mountain, which, while cohesive, also runs the gamut between metal-tinged punk on “Ripe.” surfy power-pop on “Wishing Well,” and hints of Living Colour influence on “Triumph.” —Joel Shanahan
David Bazan, Laura Gibson. High Noon Saloon, 9 p.m.
While Seattle singer-songwriter David Bazan has been releasing completely secular albums and EPs under his own name for a decade now, it doesn’t seem that long ago that the cynical troubadour was working with fellow multi-instrumentalist TW Walsh in Pedro The Lion and being commonly acknowledged as a Christian artist. Bazan’s most interesting work came when his faith hit a downhill slope in 2000, and fully crashed into agnosticism by time he was kicked off stage at Christian rock festival Cornerstone in 2005 for being plastered out of his mind. Bazan’s most powerful and brutal work arrived during his religious period in 2000’s Winners Never Quit and 2002’s Control (the latter features various musical contributions from Madison’s own Casey Foubert), two challenging concept records about crooked politics and capitalism (respectively) that could also easily be seen as bitter examinations of Christianity and American values at large. Currently touring behind this year’s synth-laden Blanco, Bazan has been known to pull tunes from across his Pedro The Lion, Headphones, and solo discographies. —JS
Alice Wetterlund. Comedy Club on State, through June 25, see link for all showtimes.
Fans of HBO’s Silicon Valley might recognize Alice Wetterlund as Pied Piper’s on-again-off-again coder Carla Walton, but she’s been also working as an improviser and stand up comedian for a while now. Her stand-up run in town this weekend is likely to include her breezily hip hot takes on feminism and country music. —CL
FRIDAY JUNE 24
Square One: Fortune, Maze, Vaughn Marques. Cardinal Bar, 9 p.m.
Longtime Milwaukee DJ institution Jessica “Fortune” Fenner returns to Madison (as part of a doubleheader that begins at Foshizzle Friday) for this week’s installment of Square One, a collaborative residency between some of the city’s finest and most adventurous dancefloor DJs. Fortune is the leader of Milwaukee’s Apart DJ collective, and it’s safe to expect a swath of deep, polished, and bass-heavy jams with a futuristic bent, often straddling the delicate line between house and techno. Her mixes and DJ sets are pretty damned enveloping and seriously inhibits the listener’s ability to leave the dancefloor for any reason. On the local end, Foshizzle affiliate and deep house purveyor Maze and smooth house and disco selector Vaughn Marques round out the bill. —JS
Foshizzle Friday. James Madison Park, 4 p.m. (free)
This edition of the Foshizzle Family DJ collective’s ongoing, low-key outdoor dance party, will be the first of two shows headlined by Milwaukee’s Fortune (see above). Be sure to arrive early so you can catch a tag set from Foshizzle affiliates Glynis & Quinley, as well as a rare appearance from old-school rave lifer, Drop Bass affiliate, and Madison-based connoisseur of nasty techno and freak electro cuts Kim Nyx. —JS
The Mother And The Whore. Vilas Hall, 7 p.m. (free)
For anyone who wants to spend just over three and a half hours getting invested in the slow-moving trainwreck of a relationship on the rocks, 1973’s The Mother And The Whore has you covered. On paper, Jean Eustache’s legendary entry into the French New Wave canon might sound incredibly tiresome, but the tension of screws incrementally tightened on a love triangle turns out to be unexpectedly riveting stuff. Don’t miss this rare opportunity to catch a 35mm print (courtesy of the Cultural Services of the French Embassy!) on the big screen for free, especially since VHS copies are going for exorbitant prices online. —CL
Wood Chickens, The Rashita Joneses, Seven Costanza. Mickey’s Tavern, 10 p.m. (free)
Milwaukee has been spawning new garage-punk bands at a seemingly furious rate of late, like some irradiated, genre-specific egg sac, and with all the attendant ups and downs in quality and potential for mutation. The Rashita Joneses’ self-titled album from 2015 throws in on that with a reverberating, scuzzy darkness. As songwriters, the young trio have a way with barbed but catchy vocal melodies and playfully bent-up guitar hooks, especially on “My Finger” and opening track “Mosquito.” They play here ahead of the release of a new 7-inch. Also on the bill are fellow Milwaukee band Seven Costanzas and Madison punk standouts Wood Chickens. —SG
Rooftop Cinema: Chronopolis. Madison Museum of Contemporary Art, 8:30 p.m.
The penultimate entry in the Madison Museum of Contemporary Art’s Rooftop Cinema “Summer Of Animation” is the only evening that presents one single film, but what a film it is. Piotr Kamler’s Chronopolis is a mixed-media journey through a bleak sci-fi world where colossal deities have grown bored with eternal life and just kinda build stuff to keep themselves entertained while they wait for something else, anything else, to happen. It reminds me of the more famous Fantastic Planet, which came out a decade earlier, but Chronopolis stands in brutalist contrast to Fantastic Planet’s rounded organic softness. While it might sound and look like nightmare fuel, Chronopolis won “Best Children’s Film” at Italy’s Fantafestival in 1982 (an award that they ominously never even offered again?), so feel free to bring your more adventurous younger ones if you dare. —CL
Charlie Parr, The Dead Pigeons. Edgewater, 5 p.m. (free)
Something about The Edgewater strikes me as an odd venue for a treasure like Charlie Parr, but then again the outdoor music season isn’t easy on us preening aesthetes, and Parr tends to win people over and adapting to the situation at hand, not unlike the early blues musicians who inspire so much of his music. The Duluth-based musician pulls together guitar styles from across different corners of blues and folk, making for a driving but complex mix of nimble arpeggios, swampy slide outbursts, and fingerpicked layers of bass and melody. His rugged but friendly baritone, and tendency to tell hysterical self-deprecating stories between songs, add to the warmth and charm of his live sets. —SG
SATURDAY JUNE 25
Mr. Jackson, Midas Bison, Knute, The Earthlings. The Wisco, 9 p.m.
Madison native Sidney Johnson produces glammy, exuberant electro-pop tracks and sings over them with disarming sincerity in his solo project Midas Bison. His 2015 release Trios found his production getting sharper and his vocals still bringing a sincere vulnerability to his sometimes uncomfortably intimate lyrics. He’s working on a new EP for release later this year. Learn more about the project in our podcast interview with Johnson from November. —SG
Vein Rays, Mid Waste, CJ Boyd, True FO. Mickey’s Tavern, 10 p.m. (free)
The perpetually touring CJ Boyd uses electric and stand-up bass, harmonica, percussion, and vocals to perform expansive, often disorienting songs and improvisations. On his last proper album, 2014’s Precariat, Boyd spans from the cathartic and crushingly intimate sparseness of “Slowly By Your Passing” to the richly layered “Peradora,” which uses a loop pedal to swirl together a doze or so of the many timbres of which electric and acoustic bass are possible. And although he often seems to be charging into a wide-open, risky musical void, he’s always got solid technique and an emotionally sensitive ear to wrap his work around. —SG
SUNDAY JUNE 26
Lovely Socialite, We Are The Willows, Mr. Jackson. Frequency, 9 p.m.
Madison/Milwaukee experimental jazz outfit Lovely Socialite released its second album, Toxic Consonance, last year, and is finally getting around to doing a short Midwestern tour to celebrate its release. This show serves as the send-off, and they’ll have some new material to play—but it’ll also be good to hear the six-piece outfit, by turns lumbering and graceful, explore realms between dense composition and challenging improvisation on songs like “Humus” and “There’s The One-Armer Now!” They play here with Minneapolis band We Are The Willows, who push their mild-mannered folk-pop into a more compelling zone with help from Peter Michael Miller’s high-register but strong-toned vocals and arrangements that incorporate synths and strings. —SG
The Muppet Movie. Memorial Union Terrace, 8:30 p.m. (free)
Everyone worked themselves into a tizzy last year when The Muppets went adult, splitting up Kermit and Miss Piggy as a means of injecting a bit of pathos into the show, but that backfired on them and now the show is cancelled. Thankfully for anyone who yelled and screamed about their childhoods being ruined, we still have the intransient happy places of the original movies, of which the road-trip fantasia of 1979’s The Muppet Movie is inarguably the best (come at, me Muppet Treasure Island truthers!). That this film manages to cram a trunk-load who’s who of Hollywood Squares-level celebs in there alongside all that Muppet-y madness is just icing on the cake. Accept no imitations. —CL
MONDAY JUNE 27
House And Land, Patrick Best, F/I/P, Page Campbell. Arts + Literature Laboratory, 7 p.m.
North Carolina-based string duo House & Land is a fresh collaboration between 12-string guitar-wizard Sarah Louise and violin experimentalist Sally Anne Morgan of Black Twig Pickers. The duo offers an abstract but unpretentious dream-state twist on Appalachian folk music, loaded with gorgeously finger-picked guitar passages, tasteful fiddle work, and Morgan’s hypnotically wandering vocals. If that’s not enough somehow, Northampton-based F/I/P, an experimental duo of guitarist Bill Nace (one half of creepy, abstract rock duo Body/Head with Sonic Youth’s Kim Gordon) and weirdo electronics guru and Vapor Gourds mastermind Jake Meginsky will also perform. Additionally, Mount Horeb-based drone maestro Patrick Best, known locally for the heavy, journeying, and textured improvisations he’d lay down on guitar and violin in deconstructed folk outfit Spiral Joy Band (and internationally for his work with legendary psych-folk band Pelt), will turn in a solo set of his own. Finally, the bill is rounded out by Madison-based singer and guitarist Page Campbell, also known for her work in Dream Boat. —JS
Gordon Lightfoot. Capitol Theater, 8 p.m.
Ontario-born singer and songwriter Gordon Lightfoot found his greatest successes in the early 1970s, storming the charts with palatable but poignant folk-rock hits like “If You Could Read My Mind,” “Rainy Day People,” and “Sundown.” (The 1975 comp Gord’s Gold isn’t a bad place to start, and pretty easy to find in your local used bin.) Now that Lightfoot is pushing 80, that stuff still holds up—his songs boast lots of subtle chordal twists and gently prodding descending melodies, and his best vocal performances hit a nice balance of smoothness and hale, cheery masculinity. His last release was the 2012 concert recording All Live. —SG
Funky Mondays. High Noon Saloon, 6 p.m.
Funky Mondays is legendary drummer and Madison resident Clyde Stubblefield’s monthly residency. There isn’t much to say about it that we haven’t before, but don’t take it for granted. —SG
National Lampoon’s Animal House. Memorial Union Terrace, 9 p.m. (free)
It’s true that Animal House is an invaluable entry in the canon of American comedy cinema, but people forget about some of its more cringe-inducing bits of male-fantasy wish-fulfillment, which have not aged well. All I’m saying is that I expect that it might get a little bit uncomfortable to sit on the Terrace and watch while John Belushi peeps in on topless co-eds mid-pillow fight, to say nothing of the scene where an underaged girl drunkenly passes out in front of a guy who’s holding nothing but the tissue from her stuffed bra. It’s like the time I watched Rushmore with my mom and totally forgot about all the times kids use the word “fingering” as a verb until it was too late to turn back, but it’s gonna be the whole Terrace, is what I guess I mean. Sorry to bring everyone down! Have fun at the movie! —CL
TUESDAY JUNE 28
Super Serious Singer Songwriter Series: Domenic Marcantonio. Mickey’s Tavern, 10 p.m. (free)
Domenic Marcantonio sings and plays guitar in Beach Patrol, a Green Bay trio that can get a bit punchy and snarly but also wrings an effusive innocence from early-60s soul and garage-rock. The band recently released its fourth album, Eudaimonia, but Marcantonio will be playing solo here as part of the every-other-week Super Serious Singer Songwriter Series. Matt Joyce of The Midwest Beat hosts the series and usually contributes a solo set of his own, as well as some collaborative numbers with the guest. —SG
WEDNESDAY JUNE 29
La Bête Humaine. Vilas Hall, 7 p.m. (free)
The 1938 French noir La Bête Humaine, adapted from Émile Zola’s novel of the same title, is a powerful showcase for star Jean Gabin. His character, a train engineer named Lantier, struggles throughout the film with a mental crisis and a family curse that forces him to become murderous around women he desires. Director Jean Renoir masterfully wrings suspense from long passages expressing desire, lustful glances, and a complex love triangle. He also uses the train itself to frame the story, letting the sounds crescendo during the most intense moments. Even if reading Zola’s original novel bores you to death, this adaptation rewards with its constant sense of urgency and its shocking ending. —Maija Inveiss
Sissy Spacek, Grave Texture, TrashSquirt. Arts + Literature Laboratory, 7 p.m.
We here at Tone Madison are presenting this show, headlined by L.A. duo Sissy Spacek. Comprised of experimental musicians John Wiese and Charlie Mumma, Sissy Spacek blast out sub-minute songs that lunge toward the extremes of grindcore and harsh noise. Disfathom, one of three albums the duo released in May, plows through 18 brief tracks crammed with suffocating blast beats, distorted bass, and gargling, retching vocals. Opening the show are two Madison experimental duos. Grave Texture consists of Ossuary guitarist/vocalist Izzi Plunkett and Samantha Glass mastermind Beau Deveraux. TrashSquirt is a new collaboration between harsh-noise artist 10564 and horror-soundtrack-inspired electronic project Red Museum. —SG
Gentle Brontosaurus, Kino Kimino, The Square Bombs. High Noon Saloon, 8 p.m.
New York City singer and guitarist Kim Talon makes catchy but stinging post-punk songs in her latest project, Kino Kimino. The new album Bait Is For Sissies features contributions from Sonic Youth’s Lee Ranaldo and Steve Shelley (who are not in the live version of the band that will play this show), but the real point on songs like “Chalk Like” and “Blood Bath” is the bright and playful warp of Talon’s vocal melodies. —SG