Labrador at The Wisco, a Foshizzle Family party in James Madison Park, and more events of note in Madison this week.
Sponsor message: The weekly Tone Madison calendar is made possible with support from Union Cab of Madison, a worker-owned cooperative providing safe and professional taxi services.
THURSDAY MAY 16
Bent Antenna began last year as a duo project for Christian Grooms and Matt Earley, both switching between guitars, vocals, drums, and ukulele to explore a few different angles of raggedy but decidedly bright pop. They’ve since expanded the lineup with a couple of esteemed Madison music veterans, bassist Lisa Marine (The Tiny Band, Noahjohn, The Quickies) and drummer Dan Hobson (best known for his time in Killdozer). The songwriting so far is roughly in a power-pop vein, but it’s versatile. Tracks like “The Daily Line” are frantic and blown out with scruffy distortion, but Bent Antenna also has a patient, melancholy streak, as captured on “Inamoratasphere.” Another recent single, “The Party’s Over,” lands somewhere between those poles, starting off with snappy but almost plaintive verses before the drums, sleek vocal harmonies, and punchy guitars begin to build up.
Bent Antenna plays here as part of a fundraiser show for WORT-FM, which also serves as a “warm-up” for Sunday’s WORT Block Party. Fellow Madison bands Momotaros and Daily Smoker will be playing, and WORT DJs The Real Jaguar and Farmer Shaun will be spinning records. —Scott Gordon
FRIDAY MAY 17
How will the Tip Top hold up during a night of abstract, and often abrasive sounds? If this bill of two Midwestern projects works, then maybe the cozy north-side bar has a future as a noise venue. Headlining is Bridges Of Königsberg, a Milwaukee/Ann Arbor trio that draws on its members’ experiences in power electronics, software-driven music, and jazz improvisation to create twisting instrumental pieces heavy on meticulous texture and warped harmonics. The music on two of the group’s most recent releases, 2018’s Mendacity and this year’s Considered Parallel To Borders (Or Dividers) rarely settles into a sustained groove and rarely abandons rhythm altogether. Instead, it dwells on an uncomfortable border between structure and chaos. “Healthy Choices,” from Considered Parallel, starts almost with the makings of a full-on noise track, but instead of taking its charred circuitry to punishing extremes it balances things out with percussive elements that evoke techno, in sound if not in their actual patterns.
Members David Collins, Peter J. Woods, and Christopher Burns bring a healthy interest in composition and process to Bridges Of Königsberg’s music. Collins is a saxophonist and composer who has created his own sequencer programs for laptop-based music-making, and Burns, a lecturer at the University of Michigan who researches music technology, has also created some of his own music software. Woods, meanwhile, plays an essential role in Milwaukee’s experimental music community, booking shows and festivals and creating projects that have included skin-crawling noise, free-jazz collaborations, and performances that combine experimental music with elements of theater. But for all the heady ideas that no doubt inform it, Bridges Of Königsberg feels grounded in raw and instinctual sounds. Sharing the bill here is Madison’s DJ Speedsick, who spoke with us recently about his evolving mix of noise and techno. —Scott Gordon
SATURDAY MAY 18
Labrador’s debut EP, Tell Me About Your Dad, was not a good Madison record to sleep on in 2018, as some of us started to figure out earlier this year. (Some of us is me and I’m not proud!) These five tracks of gauzy, wounded rock can put a tenacious grip on a listener over time, and the band’s live sets solidify it. Singer-guitarist-songwriter Hannah Switzer, bassist Ben Strohbeen, drummer Lawrence Gann, and guitarist Grant Kempski know how to pace the unfurling of a song, letting the melodic themes of “Secret Feelings” and “Everybody Wants To Know You” build up with just the right balance of patience and tension. And what they’re building up to is a full release of the anger, humor, and heartache embedded in Switzer’s voice. “Secret Feelings” has a longing refrain of “tell me I’m real,” but Switzer puts an unmistakable sear on the high, graceful melody. Labrador released acoustic versions of that song and another Dad track, “Power,” in March and is currently working on an album.
Fauvely, the project of Chicago-based musician Sophie L. Brochu, will be playing here as part of a short tour celebrating the release of a new EP, This Is What The Living Do. The first single, “What The Living Do,” puts Brochu’s stately vocals at the center of a lumbering and billowing dream-pop vision. Fauvely explored a broad palette of sounds on the 2018 album Tides: “Waning” used cicada sounds and a mournful violin to create what feels like a more sonically adventurous take on The Waterboys’ stormy Celtic folk, and “Savannah” delicately layers Brochu’s voice over earthy electric guitar chords. If “What The Living Do” is any indication, Brochu is taking the strengths of Fauvely’s previous work to a more grandiose place. —Scott Gordon
WEDNESDAY MAY 22
The playfully named Foshizzle Family has done a lot to energize electronic music in Madison since its 2012 inception, pulling together a collective of young DJs, producers, and bookers including DJ Umi, Max Wasinger, and Niki Kitz. They’ve handily balanced fun and taste, whether throwing parties in the old train cars on West Wash, getting involved in booking the annual Musique Electronique stage at Fete De Marquette, or spinning deep-reaching DJ sets at Tavernakaya and other downtown spots. Foshizzle has also gotten into the habit of throwing a few parties in James Madison Park each spring and summer, and this one is the first of 2019. Expect a fairly low-key outdoor hang, but with the group’s DJs drawing on their voracious grasp of house, techno, disco, and funk. The James Madison Park portion of the evening wraps up at 9, but the party moves over to Robinia Courtyard at 10 p.m. and goes until bar time. The event will also serve as a going-away party for Foshizzle member Ted Waldbillig, aka DJ Whodie Guthrie. —Scott Gordon