Jenny Hval, Margaret Atwood, Marilynn Crispell, Fishbone, and more events of note in Madison this week. | By Scott Gordon, Chris Lay, Erica Motz, Mike Noto, Grant Phipps, Joel Shanahan, Zack Stafford
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Wisconsin Film Festival. Multiple venues, through April 6, see link for full guide
Madison’s annual eight-day cinematic bacchanal kicks off this Thursday with an opening night bash at the Barrymore, featuring the festival’s Golden Badger awards presentation, followed by a collection of home-grown short documentaries, “Transmissions From The Heartland.” One central feature of the festival this year is an entire day dedicated to new films that are related to noted woodworker and breakfast food enthusiast Nick Offerman, but those handful of films are only a drop in the larger bucket of movies ranging from rare restorations and new documentaries and narrative features from home and abroad. If you need any help picking from the hundreds of screenings, check out our first look and our recent podcast or, for the more visually inspired, we even have a gallery of some of the best posters associated with this year’s fare to guide your selection process. And here’s the rest of our preview coverage. Lots of films have already sold out of their first allotment of tickets, but it’s pretty easy to get into just about everything via “rush tickets” on the day of if you’re willing to get there early and wait in line a little bit. Hell, I’ve seen people just give away tickets to random strangers before, so keep your head up if you were too slow on the draw for Cock Of The Air or Killing Ground. —Chris Lay
Deconstructing Masculinity With Guante. UW-Madison Computer Sciences Building (1210 W. Dayton St.) Room 1221, 7 p.m. (free)
Kyle “Guante” Myrhe cut his teeth as a rapper/spoken-word artist/educator/activist in Madison before moving to his current base of Minneapolis, where he’s always remained restlessly creative and incisive both in and out of music. A few years ago had something of a viral smash with a spoken-word performance about his response to the phrase “man up,” and one of the themes throughout his work is the warped role of masculinity in our culture—how it impacts society, the problem of sexual assault, and the damage to men themselves. He returns here to host a dialogue and performance that continues that work, delving into the role of toxic masculinity in rape culture and transphobia, and exploring what it means to be a man and an ally. The night will begin with an open-mic. —Scott Gordon
Persepolis. Union South Marquee, 7 p.m. (free)
In Persepolis: The Story Of A Childhood and Persepolis 2: The Story Of A Return, the political landscape of Iran from the 1970s through the 1990s serves as the backdrop for author Marjane Satrapi’s East-meets-West-meets-East-again coming-of-age graphic memoir. Satrapi writes about these events not as an adult looking back on the past, but in the voice she had at the time: She chronicles her family’s celebration of the exile of Mohammad Reza Shah Pahlavi through the eyes of an overwhelmed child, observes the Iran-Iraq War as a righteous, Persian loyalist pre-teen, is sent to school in Europe by her parents—who are unsympathetic to the Islamic Revolution—as a sullen, out-of-place teenager, and returns to the Islamic Republic of Iran as an out-of-place, but rebellious young adult. The stark, black and white illustrations of Satrapi’s graphic memoirs come to life in this 2007 film adaptation, screening for free at the Marquee Theater. —Erica Motz
Playing Dr. Sundance Cinemas, 7:30 p.m.
Local filmmaker Ben Fritz’s documentary Playing Dr. looks at the political and scientific implications of the 20-week abortion ban Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker signed into law in July 2015, during his failed run for the Republican presidential nomination. The law is just one of dozens of new abortion restrictions that state legislatures and governors across the country have imposed since the Republican wave of 2010, from sonogram bills to new regulations intended to make life difficult (or impossible) for abortion providers. This screening will be followed by a panel discussion with Fritz, Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin lobbyist Nicole Safar, Wisconsin State Rep. Chris Taylor, and local obstetrician-gynecologist Dr. Amanda Schmehil. —SG
Raney Aronson-Rath. Central Library, 6:30 p.m. (free)
Frontline, PBS’ award-winning journalistic documentary series, has produced over three decades of investigative reports on topics as complex and varied as the current Syrian conflict, the ubiquity of Walmart in America, the criminal justice system, and Colombian drug cartels. To commemorate the 100th anniversary
Bereft, Bongzilla, Aseethe, Dosmales. Frequency, 8 p.m.
Stylistic progression is a fantastic thing when it happens naturally, and that’s certainly what has happened to local metal band Bereft on their newest album, Lands. Bereft was an intriguingly atmospheric black metal band in 2014, around the time when they last gigged regularly in town. But Lands shows that Bereft has evolved a long way in private since then. The black metal once so central to their sound only crops up in a few places in their new work. They’ve mostly replaced it with tremendous, unashamedly grandiose doom metal—the kind of music made for shouting at the heavens to. Guitarists Zach Johnson and Alex Linden’s vocal interplay has also become noticeably reminiscent of Neurosis’ Scott Kelly and Dave Edwardson, respectively, which is fitting considering Neurosis invented a lot of this depressed, epic approach to begin with. Musically, there are also hints of Sumac’s polished, overtly technical sludge, though without that band’s covert love of rock and roll and group improvisation. But the proggy feel that characterizes Lands‘ four long songs is theirs, as is the juggling of moods and styles. Bereft seem to have become fond of the enjoyable trick of building towards a hopeful moment, only to hammer it flat under slabs of agonizing riffage and the occasional burst into tremolo-picked, banshee-shrieked black metal. They play here to promote the release of Lands with new drummer Jerry McDougal. Don’t forget to read our interview with the band this week. —Mike Noto
Son Volt, Anders Parker. Majestic, 7 p.m.
This year’s Notes Of Blue is the first album in four years from Son Volt, the long-running brainchild from alt-country godhead and Uncle Tupelo alumnus Jay Farrar. And honestly, you could play it track for track with their 1995 debut Trace and never notice much of a change in the admittedly distinctive and quite enjoyable strain of world-weary rock Farrar has spent the couple decades playing. Returning to this music over and over again is a bit like visiting a favorite bakery for 22 years and happily buying the same damn muffin every time with no deviation. But hey, reliable muffin jams aren’t necessarily a bad thing. Lots of people hate surprises and perhaps understandably just want to bask in the post-Petty, cruise-control comforts of “Back Against The Wall,” with its layered chords, floating organ accents, and Farrar’s confident crooning. —Joel Shanahan
TV Dinner Planned Parenthood Benefit. Genna’s Lounge, 10 p.m.
A top Madison DJ night teams up with Snaggle Tooth Arts to raise money for Planned Parenthood. Praise! The TV Dinner selectors generally kick things off in the slow lane with a variety of vintage funk, soul, rhythm & blues, bubblegum classics, and more. After an hour or so you can expect a mess of 45s scattered across the stage. The late crowd rolls in and the mix shifts to full-force electro and 80s pop bangers. People actually dance. As the floor fills out the mix gets faster, occasionally dipping into classic house and disco cuts, though never veering out of character. To commemorate the night you can take home a TV Dinner mixtape of all female R&B/hip hop artists, or visit Claire Warhus with Snaggle Tooth Arts for a tattoo from a special flash sheet of lady MC powerhouses. All proceeds from your purchase go to Planned Parenthood, and you feel fly as hell. —Zack Stafford
FRIDAY MARCH 31
Frequency Underground. The Rigby, 10 p.m.
Frequency Underground is a recurring residency from house selector Vutall, which continues a strange-but-fine trend of house and techno parties being thrown at Beatle-themed bar The Rigby. For this installment, Vutall is joined by two of the hardest working folks in Madison dance music—potent, but awkwardly-named house DJ GinJahviTis and heady selector and Foshizzle Family co-founder Wangzoom. —JS
Fishbone, Cowboy Winter, Mr. Jackson. High Noon Saloon, 9 p.m.
It’s sad that it’s now impossible not to think of former Minnesota Congresswoman and lifer Tea Party goon Michele Bachmann whenever Los Angeles funk-punk veterans Fishbone resurface into public consciousness. This is, of course, due to the time The Roots played Fishbone’s “Lyin’ Ass Bitch” as Bachmann walked onto the set of The Tonight Show for a softball interview with smarmy weenis Jimmy Fallon. Anyways, little has changed in terms of new material since Fishbone’s last Madison appearance (their most recent outing being the 2014 EP Intrinsically Intertwined), but they have brought longtime guitarist and keyboardist JB Bigham and founding drummer Fish Fisher back onboard, and appear to be touring with two drummers. Considering that this powerhouse has been grinding for nearly 40 years, it keeps getting harder to pass up a chance to see vocalist and sax-shredder Dr. Madd Vibe flip shit on stage. —JS
Jenny Hval, Samantha Glass. Union South Sett, 9 p.m. (free)
Elusive singer/songwriter and performance artist Jenny Hval’s musical career dates back to the late 1990s, when she fronted the gothic metal band Shellyz Raven. In the 2000s, she adopted the alias Rocketothesky for two records of ethereal, folk- and Kate Bush-influenced art pop, which continued in 2011 on her first LP under her own name, the provocative and lyrically dense Viscera. Since then, Hval has skillfully fused her proclivities for ambient, drone, and spoken word passages with silvery melodies and vintage electronic music. Her latest concept record, Blood Bitch, was one of 2016’s most emotionally intelligent and haunting explorations of the interior, concerned about mortality as much as love, lust, creative failure, systemic corruption, feminism, and menstruation. The pulsating lead single, “Female Vampire,” delves even deeper into Hval’s psyche and cinephilia by sampling and layering Bruno Nicolai’s occult percussion from the 1970s “Eurosleaze” films of Jess (Jesús) Franco. Her live performances over the past few years have also brought her brooding, confrontational, but eloquent theatricality to the surface by stripping away her guitar and traditional band entirely for something more indelibly, dynamically strange involving costumes and props. Hval’s assuredly engaging and offbeat set will be complemented by local electronic artist Samantha Glass, who’s sampling new material on his intense, signature mélange of disorienting electronic textures, field recordings, and vocal manipulations. —Grant Phipps
Sinking Suns, Coordinated Suicides, Blood Licker. Mickey’s Tavern, 10 p.m. (free)
It’s strange to think that Sinking Suns only put out their first album, Death Songs, last summer, because the Madison trio started feeling pretty essential the local music landscape a good few years before that. Sure, plenty of bands mine the noise-rock and post-punk territory of The Jesus Lizard and Shellac, but Sinking Suns approach it in a way that feels both extremely stark and refreshingly versatile. On Death Songs, Scott Udee’s wiry-toned guitar wraps itself around darkened streaks of surf-rock and Western scores, while bassist/vocalist Dennis Ponozzo and drummer Gabe Johnson plunge into rhythmic dynamism that often dispenses with the lurching cliches of this subgenre. —SG
SATURDAY APRIL 1
Slapshot, Warhawks, Delinquents, No Question. Frequency, 9 p.m.
While Boston-based tough-guy punk legends Slapshot boast only one founding member in frontman Jack “Choke” Kelly, their pummeling, polished, and generally unwaveringly straight-up take on hardcore lends itself a lot better to touring with new members than most. Aside from a couple of intriguing production detours in 1993’s industrial-tinged Blast Furnace and a filthy collaboration with producer Steve Albini lending his signature boxiness to Barry Hite’s punishing drumwork in 1994’s Unconsciousness, Slapshot has always boasted a traditional, but battering approach. As far as Slapshot’s support goes, a few varying Madisonian hardcore outfits round out the bill. Delinquents appear to be waving the flag for 90s Victory Records sampler discs with their workmanlike structures, clean production, and sporadic breakdowns, while Warhawks’ self-described “working class hardcore” also opts for a traditionalist and grayscale take on hardcore, and No Question offers a more frantic and dynamic vision, pulling some influence from powerviolence and grindcore. (Full disclosure: No Question guitarist Zack Stafford writes for Tone Madison.) —JS
Marilyn Crispell. Café Coda, 7:30 p.m.
Since the late 1970s, Marilyn Crispell has earned a reputation as one of the most formidable pianists working the more experimental reaches of jazz. As a pianist in that vein, Crispell certainly draws on the pioneering work of Cecil Taylor, but her work as a composer and improviser has its own distinctive language, fluidly combining abstract, jarring figures with a looming sense of harmonic grandeur. Some of her earliest recordings were with Anthony Braxton, who she played with for 10 years, and she’s put out an extensive discography as a soloist, bandleader, and collaborator, her most recent release being 2016’s In Motion, with drummer Richard Poole and bass player Gary Peacock. Crispell will be playing solo here, and in a duo with Madison-based saxophonist Hanah Jon Taylor. Hearing her turned loose on Café Coda’s baby grand piano should be a brain-scrambling odyssey with an avant-garde master. —SG
Emo Philips, Pearl Handle. Stoughton Opera House, 7:30 p.m.
He might be making Wisconsin a fairly regular stop on his tours, but that’s no reason to skip out on a chance to see Emo Philips when he comes through our neck of the woods. We’ve described him as a falsetto-voiced-oddball with tightly constructed surreally dark material and a muppety stage presence, but somehow all those impossibly weird traits come together in perfect harmony, and the weirdest thing is that his approach has held up over the years. —CL
Asumaya, Chants, BC Grimm. Art In, 7 p.m.
Back in 2015, Madison musician Luke Bassuener (Control, Faux Faun) released The Euphemist, an album under his solo moniker, Asumaya. The project combines his interests in various styles of African music, post-punk, and barbed, worldly political commentary, and The Euphemist was definitely the best result he’s gotten so far—tracks like “Stumbling And Lucky,” “Banners,” and “Import Society” made his one-man wrangling of bass, percussion, vocals, and thumb piano sound big and open, threading complex messages into twisty and elegant choruses. He’s playing this show to celebrate the fact that, a couple years later, The Euphemist is getting an LP release on Chicago label So Say We All Records. It’s always worth catching Bassuener’s nimbly looped-together live sets, and what the heck, this album is worth celebrating twice. Opening up are multi-instrumentalist/electronics manipulator BC Grimm, and Madison producer Chants, who spoke to us for a recent podcast episode. —SG
SUNDAY APRIL 2
Stephane Wrembel. Cafe Coda, 7 p.m.
French-born jazz guitarist Stephane Wrembel follows in the dashing and incredibly nimble acoustic tradition of Django Reinhardt, having recorded albums, named tours, and organized workshops in the gypsy-jazz legend’s honor. But you don’t have to listen long to hear Wrembel stretch beyond that foundation. His 2012 album Origins consists entirely of original compositions and captures a guitar language that gracefully incorporates everything from flamenco to blues to Indian music. “Voyager (For Carl Sagan)” has a loose rock feel but listens almost like a jazz guitarist’s answer to a stately prog epic, full of sharp but mournful leads. Wrembel plays here with fellow guitarist Thor Jensen, bassist Ari Folman Cohen, and drummer Nick Anderson. —SG
Nestle, William Brittelle, Joel Shanahan. Arts + Literature Laboratory, 8 p.m.
Headlined by trailblazing Brooklyn-based composer William Brittelle, this special avant-garde bill at Arts + Literature Laboratory overlaps with the campus arts series “Terra Incognita: Artists Exploring our New Ecological Epoch.” As co-founder of New Amsterdam Records, the nationally renowned Brittelle has, for himself and other classically trained musicians on the label, sought to bridge the gap between the classical discipline, uncanny art songs, and pithy pop earworms. Since 2008’s Mohair Time Warp, a bizarre and beautiful sonic collision of SMiLE-era Beach Boys and Kevin Gilbert, Brittelle’s own discography has continually emphasized the intersection of the music medium, technology, environmentalism, and humanity. After the huge dynamics on last year’s orchestrally embellished electro-pop single, “Dream Has No Sacrifice,” with Wye Oak singer Jenn Wasner, his latest involvement has been in writing a film score with the dexterous, intrepid vocal octet Roomful of Teeth for Murat Eyuboglu’s documentary, The Colorado, which gets its Midwest premiere at the Wisconsin Film Festival just hours prior to this show. After hearing his score for the film, catch Brittelle’s solo laptop electronics set here. —GP
MONDAY APRIL 3
Margaret Atwood. Union South Varsity Hall, 7:30 p.m. (free)
Author Margaret Atwood is generating a lot of attention recently due to an upcoming Hulu series based on her 1985 dystopian novel, The Handmaid’s Tale. That book, among many others—the prophetic economic inequality and genetic manipulation of Oryx And Crake, the tightly wrapped short stories of Wilderness Tips—arguably place her among the greatest living fiction writers. But for this lecture, the keynote of the Great World Texts program, Atwood will be discussing a more recent novel, 2016’s Hag-Seed. Great World Texts, created by the UW’s Center for the Humanities, connects the university with teachers around the state to encourage high schoolers to read classic literature. Hag-Seed is based on this year’s chosen text, William Shakespeare’s The Tempest. —EM