Tortoise, Line Breaks, Square One, and more events of note in Madison this week. | By Chris Lay, Scott Gordon, Joel Shanahan
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THURSDAY MARCH 10
Michelle Wolf. Comedy Club on State, through March 12, see link for all showtimes.
It’s rare for someone to willingly trade a job on Wall Street for telling jokes for a living, but such was the course that comedian Michelle Wolf’s professional life took. In less than four years Wolf snagged a gig as a writer on Late Night With Seth Meyers (where you might remember spotting her as “Grown Up Annie”) and has been showing off some deep talent given her relative newness to standup. Wolf has a nonchalant stage presence that belies the sharpness of her material, which is equal parts silly and smart and she will be an excellent balance to the Comedy Club on State’s usually bro’d-out lineup of comedians. James Hodge features and Rachael Soglin hosts. —Chris Lay
Garden Of Earthly Delights Trilogy. Union South Marquee, 7 p.m. (free)
It’s true that Let Us Persevere In What We Have Resolved Before We Forget, the first film in Ben Russell’s Garden Of Earthy Delights trilogy (named for the famous Hieronymus Bosch triptych), ranks right up there with some of the longest film titles of all time, but that’s where the comparisons with films like The Incredibly Strange Creatures Who Stopped Living And Became Mixed-Up Zombies!!? and Don’t Be A Menace To South Central While Drinking Your Juice In The Hood end. The trilogy, which continues with Atlantis and the most recent Greetings To The Ancestors, weaves an impressionistically avante garde natural tapestry that functions as a meditation on the concept of utopia, so put on your lateral-thinking caps and strap in for what’s sure to be a gorgeous (if conceptually dense) ride. —CL
Droids Attack, Attalla, The Gran Fury. High Noon Saloon, 9 p.m.
Madison trio Droids Attack have dependably cranked out chunky, mildly goofy sludge epics since forming in 2000, not upending the stoner-metal reference points but certainly tapping into the slap-happy gratification of it all. They play here to celebrate their fourth album, the recently released Sci-Fi Or Die. Guitarist-vocalist Brad Van talked with us about the album on our podcast last week. —Scott Gordon
Tortoise, Mind Over Mirrors. Majestic, 8:30 p.m.
It’s a bit odd to make such an omnivorous band as Tortoise into a signifier for any genre, even one as nebulous as post-rock. To revisit high points like their second album, 1996’s Millions Now Living Will Never Die, is to hear lyric guitars, sly electronic textures, and complex rhythms bleed together in ways that still feel confoundingly inventive, and somehow perfectly reasonable for all that. The new album The Catastrophist is their first in seven years and, well, it’s a mixed bag (delight your friends by starting a debate over that cover of “Rock On”!), but that doesn’t change the fact that you should see Tortoise at least once in this life, especially since former Madisonian and Tar Babies drummer Dan Bitney is a member. —SG
FRIDAY MARCH 11
Line Breaks Festival. Overture Center and Central Library, through March 13, see link for full schedule.
The annual Line Breaks Festival showcases the students of UW-Madison’s First Wave program, which fosters hip-hop arts with an approach that embraces everything from rapping to dance to spoken-word to theater, often blending those disciplines together. This year the festival marks its 10th anniversary with a much smaller slate of events and guest artists, reflecting the impacts of state funding cuts to the UW System. That doesn’t make it any less exciting to see First Wave students in a variety of solo and collaborative performances, including a chapbook reading, a new solo performance piece from student Eli Lynch, and music from acts including gifted MC Broadway and sprawling band Me eN You (who will be performing a piece called “We Don’t Know What Love Is”). Guest artist Dasha Kelly, a writer and performer based in Milwaukee, will sign her novel Almost Crimson, host a writing workshop, and give a “performance reading” of Almost Crimson. First Wave is never easy to sum up, but we might as well share the new track “Dandelions,” which features some 14-odd performers affiliated with the program. —SG
Another Dawn + In The Palm Of Your Hand. Vilas Hall, 7 p.m.
UW Cinematheque’s Latin-American film series, series co-sponsored by UW’s department of Latin American, Caribbean, and Iberian Studies, comes to an end this week with a double shot of mid century Mexican noirs, Julio Bracho’s Another Dawn and Roberto Gavaldón’s In The Palm Of Your Hand, the latter of which has been called “Perhaps the greatest thriller ever made in Mexico”. —CL
Square One: Ben Silver, Lovecraft, Wangzoom, Ashoka. Cardinal Bar, 9 p.m.
Combining veteran Madison DJ Tim “Lovecraft” Thompson’s contagious enthusiasm and veteran deck skills with the Foshizzle Family collective’s deep, heady selections and attention to ambience, Square One is one of the most promising new dance nights in Madison. In addition to resident DJs Lovecraft, Wangzoom, and Ashoka, this week’s special guest is Madison-based, Chicago transplant Ben Silver, who was one-third of the long-running, spacehead DJ institution Orchard Lounge up until it went on indefinite hiatus a couple years ago. Despite the themes of depth and headiness that swirl in and out of the selections on Silver’s mixes, his programming and mixing is razor-sharp, leaving listeners frantically searching for a tracklist. —Joel Shanahan
SATURDAY MARCH 12
Rocco And His Brothers. Vilas Hall, 7 p.m. (free)
UW Cinematheque’s series of new Italian restorations continues with Luchino Visconti’s 1960 neorealist masterpiece Rocco And His Brothers. Starring Alain Delon as the titular Rocco, the tightly plotted film follows the trials, tribulations, and ultimately hope, of a family migrating from the south of France to the industrialized and morally dubious north. Martin Scorsese included it in his list of “The 85 Films You Need To See To Know Anything About Film.” —CL
Natty Nation, F. Stokes, Shonn Hinton & Shotgun, Megan Bobo And The Lux, DJ Trichrome. Barrymore, 7 p.m.
Madison reggae band Natty Nation plays here to celebrate its fifth studio album, Divine Spark, which combines the band’s sturdy rhythmic foundations with a diverse but uncluttered array of arrangement approaches. Singer and bassist Demetrius Wainwright is still the crucial element here, using his hefty but melodic voice to ground songs that start with simple concepts—with titles like “Meditation,” “Purpose,” and “Balance”—and unpack them to explore spiritual and political themes, eventually tying it all back to universal, everyday struggles. The band as a whole fleshes out the songs with tasteful melodica, synth, and guitar, and the occasional trippy dub foray. Rapper and former Madisonian F. Stokes, also on the bill here, contributes a guest verse on the song “Civil Rights.” —SG
Local Love Fest: Louka, The Deal Breakers, Underground Day One. Crystal Corner Bar, 9 p.m.
Madison guitarist Louka Patenaude has played in a dizzying variety of jazz, rock, country, and reggae settings over the years, from jazz outfit The New Breed Quartet to Natty Nation, and his latest effort as a singer, songwriter, and bandleader is just called Louka. Years ago, he lead a rock outfit called The Optimistic that showcased his shaggy but sharp-witted talents as a songwriter, but it’s been a while since he put out any recordings of his own material. He’s recently been working on the first Louka record, and his set here will feature djembe from Ramon Gooden and banjo from Andy Moore. He plays here as part of the celebration for Local Love Fest, an annual compilation on which Madison bands cover each other’s songs. —SG
Jesse Malmed: Untitled (Just Kidding). Central Library, 1 p.m. (free)
UNTITLED (JUST KIDDING) (Jesse Malmed, 2012-2014) from Spectacle Theater on Vimeo.
SUNDAY MARCH 13
Protomartyr, Fire Retarded, Luggage. Frequency, 8:30 p.m.
Protomartyr’s super-austere take on post-punk and leader Joe Casey’s cryptic, portentous songwriting can at first make the Detroit band sound determined to keep you at arm’s length (while also impressing you with a whiff of stark charisma, I think?). But spend a bit of time with Protomartyr’s two albums, 2014’s Under Color Of Official Right and 2015’s The Agent Intellect, and they gradually yield up darkly witty, sonically cutting, and strangely empathetic moments. “Pontiac 87,” from Agent Intellect, turns a story about Pope John Paul II saying mass in the Silverdome into a shadowy struggle with innocence and disillusionment. “What The Wall Said,” from Under Color Of Official Right, showcases the band’s command of cryptic imagery and barbed dynamics. Sure, this can be a difficult band, perhaps wilfully so, but adjust to it for a moment and it becomes fiercely affecting. —SG
Smiles Of A Summer Night. Chazen Museum of Art, 2 p.m. (free)
Over the course of UW Cinematheque’s Ingmar Bergman retrospective I’ve maybe been a bit hard on the director for his dark and humorless subject matter, but thankfully the guy did in fact know how to brighten things up once in awhile, as we can see with 1955’s Smiles Of A Summer Night. Bergman’s 15th film in a decade, Smiles was the romantic comedy that finally gained the director a broader worldwide audience by lightly playing to our species’ more basely erotic desires. It set the stage for Bergman’s masterpieces The Seventh Seal and Wild Strawberries, which would follow shortly after and solidify his place among the giants of cinema. —CL
Micro-Wave Cinema: Here’s To The Future. Vilas Hall, 7 p.m.
A wonderfully intimate documentary about filmmaking (of a sort), Gina Telaroli’s Here’s To The Future focuses on a group of friends who are in the process of remaking a scene from Michael Curtiz’s 1932 pre-code film The Cabin In The Cotton. The filmmakers’ objective might seem slight at first blush, but there’s a lot of conceptual bits to unpack given the subject being performatively dissected. —CL
Trailer – HERE’S TO THE FUTURE! from Gina Telaroli on Vimeo.
WEDNESDAY MARCH 16
Chants, Nestle, Tony Barba. Arts + Literature Laboratory, 7 p.m.
On the heels of last year’s excellent and long-awaited full length We Are All Underwater, which found Madisonian bass sculptor and beat surgeon Chants pushing his sound into deeper and more sculpted sonic territories than ever before, mastermind Jordan Cohen is readying the release of a new EP called The Zookeeper (no, not a high-concept audio companion to the Kevin James blockbuster of the same name, but instead a better-advised nod to writer David Mitchell). The new EP pushes Cohen’s detailed production to its darkest and grittiest threshold yet. Always on a quest to ditch the more obvious tropes of modern bass music in favor of seeking out the hidden groove, The Zookeeper welcomes a more blown-out and stormier industrial component into the equation. Joining Cohen on the bill will be Madison-based sax player, occasional Chants collaborator, and Youngblood Brass Band member Tony Barba. The last solo work he heard from him was damaged jazz-prog of Facetime, but he’s recently been working on a new live set and recordings involving sax, synthesizers, and loops, so expect Barba to push things in an even more experimental direction here. —JS
Dumb Vision, Growwing Pains, Giant People. Mickey’s Tavern, 10:30 p.m. (free)