Yak, Joan Wildman, the Directress Film Festival, and other events of note in Madison this week. | By Emili Earhart, Scott Gordon, Erica Motz, Mike Noto, Grant Phipps, Joel Shanahan, David Wolinsky
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THURSDAY MARCH 9
GateSound: The Terminal Orchestra, knowsthetime, Noxroy. Gates of Heaven 7 p.m.
Jesse DeCaire, leader of Marquette, Michigan band The Terminal Orchestra, creates driving, programmatic, sonic narratives. Terminal Orchestra blurs all lines surrounding genres, instead painting a collection of evocative scenes that prompt an adventurous chronicle in one’s mind. While often taking on the appearance of a small orchestra equipped with extensive percussion and string sections, Terminal Orchestra also resembles a progressive post-rock outfit through the involvement of countless styles of guitar and other instrumentation, once again obscuring any sense of genre. Through broad, expansive arrangements, Terminal Orchestra tells a story that either reminds you of the last cowboy film you watched, or encourages you to space out and conjure up your own narrative in your mind. Sharing the bill are projects of two local electronic artists. Producer Ian Carroll (formerly *hitmayng) presents atmospheric, ambient material under his new moniker, knowsthetime. Noxroy, the modular synth- and guitar-focused project of Andrew Fitzpatrick, will kick off the night with a multi-dimensional spread of sonic patchwork. We discuss further the latest installation of our GateSound series in our curator’s notes this week. ––Emili Earhart
Directress Film Festival. Union South Marquee, through March 12, see link for full schedule (free)
WUD Film’s Directress Film Festival spans four days and 13 films with settings as diverse as poetry gatherings in Iran, seditious clubs in Tunisia, and the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota, with dialogue in English, Arabic, French, Hindi, and Urdu. The common thread running through all of the films is that they’re directed by women. Curator Kate Zellmer told LakeFrontRow earlier this week that “only 6% of the 500 top-grossing films of 2016 were directed by women, a trend that has remained fairly stagnant over the past decade,” and the festival serves as a chance to “honor these perspectives.” Personally, I’m most looking forward to Leyla Bouzid’s As I Open My Eyes (2015), the story of a young singer on the cusp of the Arab Spring in Tunisia; Lucile Hadzihalilovic’s creepy medical experiments in Évolution (2016) (trailer below); and Kirsten Johnson’s Cameraperson (2016), an assemblage of footage Johnson shot over decades while working as a documentary cinematographer. Johnson has worked on films such as Gini Reticker’s Pray The Devil Back To Hell (2008), an account of the women’s peace movement (and election of Ellen Johnson Sirleaf) during Liberia’s early 2000s civil war, and Michael Moore’s 2007 “get out the vote” tour of college campuses ahead of the Obama-McCain presidential election, Slacker Uprising. Check the link above for the full festival lineup—all of the films will be screening for free in Union South’s Marquee Theater. —Erica Motz
Newtown. Central Library, 6:30 p.m. (free)
Every installment of the Indie Lens Pop-Up features a different film from PBS’s Independent Lens, a weekly series of documentaries by independent filmmakers. Newtown, a film by Kim Snyder, shares testimonies of the people of Newtown, Connecticut: those who witnessed the 2012 mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School, those who survived, and those who comforted the survivors. Community members share their profound grief and righteous frustration at the status quo for gun control legislation in America. —EM
FRIDAY MARCH 10
Memories Of Underdevelopment. Vilas Hall, 7 p.m. (free)
UW Cinematheque concludes its three-week LACIS series with this new DCP restoration of Tomás Gutiérrez Alea’s landmark Cuban film, Memories Of Underdevelopment (1968), an adaptation of the novella by Edmundo Desnoes. After beginning vivaciously with a carnival tribute to I Am Cuba (1964) in the tumultuous year of 1961 between the Bay of Pigs and Cuban Missile Crisis, Alea’s film settles into a moody and meditative study of young upper-middle class intellectual Sergio (Sergio Corrieri), who politically and personally resists his family’s emigration to the United States. By remaining in his native country, he hopes to find a more authentic and purposeful life. However, Sergio instead finds himself in a state of perpetual alienation through various dispassionate liaisons. Fans of Antonioni’s later films, particularly Blow-up (1966), may find several overlapping narrative facets that accompany this film’s exploration of existentialism after the Cuban Revolution. The film really triumphs in its achronological structuring and editing innovations, which strongly recall the trademarks of the French New Wave. —Grant Phipps
InDIGenous: Caravan Gypsy Swing Ensemble. Central Library, 7 p.m. (free)
Madison’s Caravan Gypsy Swing Ensemble formed in the early aughts and are basically the local authorities on the gypsy-swing style pioneered by artists like Django Reinhardt, with two acoustic lead guitarists (Chris Ruppenthal and Scott Hlavenka) nimbly ripping it up in the foreground. Its two albums, a self-titled one in 2007 and The Waiting Game from 2015, pull a lot of other styles into that orbit, especially flamenco, bossa nova, and a variety of other Latin twists. They play here to kick off the spring edition of the Greater Madison Jazz Consortium’s InDIGenous series, which focuses on original compositions, so here’s hoping the stylistically flexible sextet has some new material to showcase. The show will also tie in with the opening of a new slate of art exhibitions as part of the Madison Public Library’s Night Light series. —Scott Gordon
Tyranny Is Tyranny, Only The Bones, House Of Lud. The Wisco, 9:30 p.m.
Chicago band Only The Bones have shared only a minute-long excerpt of their in-the-works album recorded at Electrical Audio, but there’s reason enough to look forward to it: The clip offers a shred of post-punk in the stormy vein of Drive Like Jehu, and the band shares members with two other heavy and wrenching outfits, The Swan King and Snow Burial. They share the bill here with two Madison outfits: Stripped-down doom trio House Of Lud and cutting, bleak post-rock outfit Tyranny Is Tyranny. —SG
SATURDAY MARCH 11
Eric Miller, Tani Diakite/Andy Ewen/Djam Vivie, Louka. Williamson Magnetic Recording Company, 6:30 p.m.
Madison based multi-instrumentalist Eric Miller specializes in the viola da gamba, a seven-stringed cousin of the cello that enjoyed prominence between the 15th and mid-18th centuries. Miller is best known as a cellist in the Wisconsin Baroque Ensemble, but plays solo here with the viola da gamba. His set will feature pieces by French composer Le Sieur de Machy and Dutch composer Johannes Schenk. As you can see below in a performance of one of de Machy’s compositions, Miller is adept at wringing heft and tenderness from the viola da gamba’s wide tonal range. It’ll also be a treat here to see two Madison-based performers in an intimate setting. Tani Diakite specializes in another esoteric stringed instrument, the plucky and bright kamale n’goni, and channels the musical traditions of his native Mali here with help from guitarist Andy Ewen and percussionist Djam Vivie. Multi-faceted local guitarist Louka Patenaude, whose work in town ranges from jazz to reggae to stripped-down singer-songwriter material, plays here as a duo with bassist John Christensen. —SG
Tippy, Spokes, Bag-Da, Bob Bucko Jr. Mickey’s Tavern, 10:30 p.m (free)
Returning to Madison from Dubuque, Iowa is outsider, free-jazz-meets-freak-folk veteran Bob Bucko Jr., playing behind his newly released tape, Decelebrate. Released on the Already Dead label, Decelebrate offers a dark, synth-driven side of Bucko’s music, while still building on Bucko’s efforts to eradicate any notion of genre. Stevens Point psych-pop project Bag-Dad play here behind their 2016 EP, offering a warm palette of faded vocal harmonies and bright, dreamy guitar. Madison guitar-pop outfit Tippy headlines the night behind their two releases from last year, and a new configuration of local psych-rock trio Spokes will open the night. —EE
Tampopo. Vilas Hall, 7 p.m. (free)
You’ve heard of Spaghetti Westerns, but what about a self-described Ramen Western? Tampopo is difficult to categorize but if it must be neatly slotted anywhere, it’s with that descriptor. And it’s every bit as eyebrow-arching as you might suspect. Released in 1985 and since attaining cult-hit status, and yet being the one cult hit that many devout film enthusiasts haven’t heard of, Tampopo is about Goro, a lone rider in a semi questing for the perfect ramen shop. When he finally happens upon the titular character, a widow, Goro is perplexed when it seems he has instead found an ideal mate who is incapable of cooking a passable noodle. Very funny, very Japanese, and at times slipping into sex scenes so graphic they feel out of step with the rest of the film, Tampopo is unlike anything else you have likely ever seen. Make sure you remedy that as soon as possible. —David Wolinsky
Duck Soup Cinema: The Thief Of Bagdad. Capitol Theater, 7 p.m.
Douglas Fairbanks’ 1924 silent film The Thief Of Bagdad stars Fairbanks as Ahmed, a young thief who is determined to woo a princess, but faces stiff competition from a villainous Mongol suitor. Aside from what is considered to be Fairbanks’ standout performance, the film is perhaps best known for its elaborate sets, which depict a beautiful if not exoticized Arabian paradise. (And speaking of exoticized—check out the costuming in the trailer below.) It screens here as part of Overture’s Duck Soup Cinema series, and will feature live musical accompaniment on the Capitol Theater’s historic pipe organ. Duck Soup screenings usually feature a pre-show of vaudeville-style acts, but this one will not, as the film is longer than the series’ usual fare. —EM
Ladyscissors, Reverend Rectifier And The Sinners. High Noon Saloon, 5 p.m.
I hope it doesn’t come off as backhanded to say that Madison four-piece Ladyscissors often sounds like a miniature rock ‘n’ roll band. On the band’s second album, To The Nines, Ladyscissors lay down a series of unfailingly playful songs that layer group vocals into bright harmonies and rounds, often over warm and crunchy but somehow not particularly threatening guitar-rock foundations. That’s not to say it’s cutesy—just think the sweeter and super-minimal side of early Velvet Underground—and songs like “Figure It Out” and “Pictures Of Everything” have plenty of sly lyrical depth under the surface. —SG
A Tribe Called Quest Dance Party. High Noon Saloon, 9 p.m.
It’s been a tumultuous past year for Tribe Called Quest fans, with the March 2015 death of Phife Dawg from diabetes complications, and the November release of a new album, We Got It from Here….Thank You 4 Your Service. Not only was the album itself a surprise, it’s also better than anyone had a right to expect, boasting its share of latter-day Tribe classics (“Melatonin,” “We The People,” “Black Spasmodic”) and features ranging from old pals like Busta Rhymes to Anderson .Paak and Andre 3000. Madison-based DJ Radish and dance crew The Hitterz Collective take to the High Noon here to celebrate that bittersweet legacy with a night of music from Tribe and affiliated artists. —SG
Joan Wildman Trio. Café Coda, 8 p.m.
Pianist/synthesizer player and retired UW-Madison jazz professor Joan Wildman has for decades strolled nimbly between the melodic richness of jazz and the fractured reaches of the avant-garde. Her career has ranged from appearing on recordings by Roscoe Mitchell to driving behind-the-scenes efforts to improve the jazz scene in Madison through the Madison Music Collective. To see her play live is to see an incredible depth of musical knowledge and improvisational wit pushing into some strange and distant corners. She plays here in a trio setting at the recently opened new jazz club Café Coda. —SG
SUNDAY MARCH 12
Yak, BC Grimm, Emili Earhart. Art In, 8 p.m.
In the Detroit duo Yak, violinist Yuri Popowycz and percussionist Zac Brunell use earthily bowed melodies and rumbling strings to create droning, spacious music that teeters between the serene and the ominous. Yak’s recently released album, Bos Mutus, offers four extended explorations of these sounds, and it’s impressive how much atmosphere and eerie harmonic layering Popowycz and Brunell are able to generate with their pared-down instrumentation. Their set here will be accompanied by live visual projections. —SG
Indiana Jones And The Temple Of Doom. Chazen Museum of Art, 2 p.m. (free)
Though there are other contenders for the least popular entries in the Indiana Jones canon, 1984’s Indiana Jones And The Temple Of Doom has the distinction of being a prequel with little in common with its immediate predecessor and series originator. Director Steven Spielberg has since disowned it as being “too dark, too subterranean, and much too horrific,” and indeed, Temple Of Doom lives up to its name with lots of death and destruction. There’s human sacrifice, more murder than the other, more lighthearted movies would allow, and tons of problematic elements (Kate Capshaw functions largely as a whining damsel in distress, not to mention the film’s many, many cringe-inducing racist stereotypes). This screening at the Chazen is another in UW Cinematheque’s ongoing series paying homage to John Williams, who, like the Indiana Jones series itself, lives in the rarefied air of being a pop culture and cinema fixture—a shorthand for something deeper and seemingly inevitable. But like overnight successes, all legends are decades in the making. Whereas the darker film stands as an anomaly for the series, it represents an important stepping stone for Williams in an opportunity to return to a world he helped build in 1981’s Raiders Of The Lost Ark. Williams has scored tons of movies, but Temple Of Doom is one of a handful of sequels he has scored. Paying careful attention to how Williams branches out from familiar themes is a way to rediscover a movie that feels out of place. —DW
MONDAY MARCH 13
Phantogram, The Veldt. Orpheum, 7 p.m.
It would take one hell of a memorably palette-cleansing jam for us to forget Phantogram’s irksome contributions to Big Boi’s ill-advised indie-pop crossover Vicious Lies And Dangerous Rumors. This is mostly for the irritating hook, goofus lyrics, and canned preciousness of “CPU.” But hey, the collaboration and their general trajectory from charmingly futuristic dream-pop duo to radio-ready, melodramatic pop outfit seems to be working for some folks, as they’ve now completely blown up. With 2016’s Three, the duo’s trinity of R’n’B-influenced pop hooks, EDM, and post-Juno indie-pop vibes is sadly a far cry from 2011’s tasteful Nightlife. —Joel Shanahan
TUESDAY MARCH 14
Ion, The Ferns, Christian Dior. High Noon Saloon, 9 p.m.
Madison’s Ion shares members with Milwaukee’s forbidding, synth-infested noise rock band Heat Death and has been kicking around in some form or another since 2013. Originally a solo project for guitarist/bassist Terrance Barrett, the group has now expanded to a quartet, and they recently unveiled a surprising amount of proggy ambition in February when they released a 12-minute song on Bandcamp called “Ripley.” Barrett’s ethereally phased but rigidly structured guitar figures evoke tightly clenched post-rock as much as the more restrained melodic avenues the Mars Volta occasionally undertook, and Eric Kjelland’s drumming navigates a daunting amount of complicated rhythmic changes while keeping everything firmly tethered to earth. The track also features vocals from keyboardist Brandon Washington (also known for his production work as Randal Bravery)—and here they’re soft and mixed low, but live, Washington often elevates his voice to a reverb-smacked roar. Ion play here as they work on a new recording, and they share the bill with pleasant pop project The Ferns and frenetic shoegaze-punk duo Christian Dior. —Mike Noto
WEDNESDAY MARCH 15
John Mulaney. Comedy Club on State, 7 & 9:30 p.m. (also March 16, all shows sold out)
I remember when you could watch John Mulaney’s first special, New In Town, for free on YouTube, and now he’s selling out the Chicago Theatre to film Emmy-nominated Netflix original comedy specials, so I can’t help feeling surprised and slightly bitter that this string of sold-out shows wasn’t booked at a larger venue. Those lucky enough to go are probably already well acquainted with Mulaney’s observational style and witty storytelling—which often includes hilariously self-conscious scrutiny of his Catholic upbringing and his sexuality—his contributions to SNL‘s “Weekend Update,” and “Oh, Hello,” a skit created with Nick Kroll for Comedy Central’s Kroll Show, recently revived on Broadway. For the unfamiliar, check out the Late Night clip below for Mulaney’s reflections on GSN’s Family Feud and our current POTUS early in the campaign season. —EM
The Occupation Of The American Mind. Union South Marquee, 7 p.m. (free)
The way American political debate frames our relationship with Israel is indeed strange: Why is it that sending the country billions of dollars in military aid, but maybe not being so hot on Israel’s occupation and settlement of Palestinian territory in Gaza and the West Bank, is often considered a slap in the face to a close ally? Loretta Alper and Jeremy Earp’s 2016 documentary The Occupation Of The American Mind argues that the U.S. is pretty unique in its political stance toward Israel, and chalks this up to Israel’s own public-relations and lobbying efforts in America. The film makes this argument through interviews with figures including Noam Chomsky and Palestinian journalist Rula Jebreal, and Pink Floyd’s Roger Waters narrates. —SG