Curse, James Adomian, Trophy Dad, Broadway Muse, and more events of note in Madison this week. | By Sasha Debevec-McKenney, Scott Gordon, Chris Lay, Grant Phipps, Joel Shanahan, David Wolinsky
THURSDAY MAY 4
James Adomian. Comedy Club on State, through May 6, see link for all showtimes.
There’s a real possibility you’ve heard James Adomian speak before and didn’t know it was him — that’s how it happened to me. Adomian is a cornerstone of the Comedy Bang Bang universe, where he portrays Paul Giamatti, Jesse Ventura, Tom Leykis, and a seemingly endless number of other odd, creepy, loud, full-fledged characters. These people will never be the same to me; after Adomian, Giamatti is a tragic all-out loser; there is no real Sebastian Gorka, only Adomian’s warped version — not that I care to know what the Trump adviser is really like, anyway. Adomian’s 2014 Comedy Bang Bang podcast appearance — his first one as himself — was just as funny as any character he’s done. The visual versions of his impressions hit just as hard. One of his best television appearances, as the Sheriff of Nottingham on The Meltdown With Jonah And Kumail, was so twisted and sexy and gross and more than enough to get me to see him every time he comes to Madison. Last year, when Adomian toured as Bernie Sanders — with two blonde wigs crowning his head — he could have just read verbatim Bernie quotes and it would have still been funny. I thought it might be odd to see him in the flesh, but of course, it wasn’t. His talent for improvisation and impressions run so deep it doesn’t really matter who he’s pretending to be in the moment — all of his Madison shows are going to be brilliantly different from each other and from anything else. — Sasha Debevec-McKenney
The Player. Central Library, 6:30 p.m. (free)
Robert Altman’s The Player (1992) remains a salient work, both of its era and as an impetus for my quiet collegiate pursuit of cinema in the trenches of a literary curriculum. Its intrigue is contained in the self-aware genius and beauty of the eight-minute opening sequence, an unbroken tracking shot, which skewers unbridled capitalism and the recycled concepts forever festering in the Hollywood studio system. While Altman had been writing and directing for over two decades and been acknowledged as a household name by the time he made it, The Player still stands out as one of his most acute narratives that, marrying satire with a meandering noir-thriller. Range Rover-driving studio executive Griffin Mill (Tim Robbins) pettily plunges himself into a potentially deadly scenario after devising a scheme to retaliate against a rejected writer (Vincent D’Onofrio) he suspects of mailing threatening postcards to his office. But his rash plan goes horribly awry, and the guilty executive proceeds to slip deeper into a web of deceit amongst colleagues and law enforcement. What’s truly fascinating about The Player is how it stages scenes that simultaneously seem to ask its audience to suspend disbelief as if watching a dark B-rate crime plot and yet embrace the poetic reality of life imitating art. In the untangling of its many narrative knots, the film’s tonal oscillations are comparable to the works of other American trailblazers like Charlie Kaufman (Adaptation) and the Coen Brothers (Hail, Caesar!). The Cinesthesia series at the Central Library series will be projecting the film in a new 4K Criterion restoration here. — Grant Phipps
Twelves, Maniac Du Jour, Glassmen. Williamson Magnetic Recording Company, 8 p.m.
Madison outfit Twelves play jagged, rumbling noise-rock that leans a bit toward the mad complexity of bands like Don Caballero. The band also has a captivating stage presence, thanks in large part to vocalist Michael Groome’s gyrating theatrics and crowd interaction — which can only get more unpredictable in a small space like Williamson Magnetic — and to the way guitarist Jason Bank (also of Bron Sage) moves seamlessly between twistedly catchy melodies and bursts of scalding dissonance. Twelves have not put out any recordings yet, but are working on their first album. Sharing the bill here are stark Italian rock band Maniac Du Jour and Madison indie-rock duo Glassmen. — SG
This Changes Everything. Majestic, 6:30 p.m.
In the 2015 documentary This Changes Everything, director Avi Lewis builds off of Naomi Klein’s book of the same title to examine how climate change is creating crucial political moments in places from Canada to China. Klein’s book argues that, dire as it may be, climate change also creates an opportunity for political movements around the world to make big demands and upend the status quo — the status quo in this case being capitalism. One could also see this premise as an optimistic flipside to Klein’s 2007 book The Shock Doctrine: The Rise Of Disaster Capitalism, which examines how the powers that be use moments of crisis to further their interests. At this event, benefitting environmental advocacy group Clean Wisconsin, Klein will appear by video to introduce the film. After the screening, there will be a discussion featuring Alexis Bonogofsky, a Montana-based rancher and activist who appears in the film. — Scott Gordon
Son!, Hiwot Adilow, CRASHprez. Union Terrace, 9 p.m.
Rapper, singer, and songwriter Daniel Kaplan has explored music from several different angles during his time in UW-Madison’s First Wave program, performing under the MC name Lord Of The Fly and serving as one of the ringleaders in the sprawling, effusive R&B/hip-hop ensemble ME eN You. His latest incarnation is under the name Son!. He debuted that project a couple months back with the song “Prayer,” which delves deeper into a lot of the vulnerability his previous work has hinted at, over a warm mournful Rhodes chords. Fellow ME eN You member Hiwot Adilow is a singer, writer, and rapper whose R&B-tinged new songs made her a highlight of this year’s Line Breaks festival. — SG
FRIDAY MAY 5
Moonlight On The Square: Faisal Abdu’Allah, Broadway Muse, Yanni.K. Tavernakaya, 10:30 p.m.
This Gallery Night after-party would certainly have to rank among the more unusual events so far in Tavernakaya’s generally solid lineup of DJs and dance parties. For one, it isn’t all that often that you get to hear Faisal Abdu’Allah — a multi-faceted artist who works as both a UW-Madison professor and a barber—play a DJ set. Apparently he’ll be spinning all vinyl here, and I can only imagine that his music collection is as wide-ranging and culturally polyglot as Abdu’Allah’s work. The night will also feature performance from Broadway Muse, whose recorded output so far spans just a few SoundCloud tracks and features, but who’s one of the finest MCs currently dwelling in the city, thanks to her sly, dextrous, and ever-morphing rhymes. Also on the decks will be Yanni.K, the DJ alias of UW-Madison queer-history scholar Ayanna Drakos. — SG
Listening In The Dark. Central Library, 6 p.m. (free)
As part of its Madison Gallery Night festivities, the Madison Public Library’s Bubbler program will be unveiling a bunch of new artwork and hosting spoken-word performances. But Gallery Night, the ultimate social-butterfly magnet, also happens as the Bubbler tries to carve out a space away from just this kind of hubbub through its Library As Retreat Space project. As part of Library As Retreat Space, the Central Library’s ground-floor Bubbler Room will have the lights off and Madison electronic producer Chants spinning a four-hour ambient DJ set, in an attempt to help people detox from all the stimuli. Attendees are invited to sit or even lie down during as they listen. — SG
Juan De Marcos And First Wave Artists. Memorial Union Play Circle, 8 p.m. (free)
Legendary Afro-Cuban musician Juan de Marcos González, best known for his work in Buena Vista Social Club, came to UW-Madison in 2015 for an extensive arts residency that included several lectures and performances and even a visit from seminal rapper Kurtis Blow. While on campus, González also collaborated with student artists from UW’s multidisciplinary hip-hop arts program, First Wave. This week he’ll be back in town, and at this event he’ll reunite with some First Wave artists to reprise some of the music they made together in 2015. — SG
52 Pick Up. Vilas Hall, 7 p.m. (free)
This screening is the second in UW Cinematheque’s two-fer of Cannon Films Elmore Leonard adaptations, following last Friday’s screening of The Ambassador. With 1986’s 52 Pick Up, John Frankenheimer takes a more straightforward approach to his turn at adapting Leonard’s titular source material. Roy Scheider stars as a powerful Los Angeles businessman whose infidelity from his would-be councilwoman wife, played by Ann-Margret, becomes a source of blackmail. It might come off a bit dated as a suspenseful thriller, thanks to some cheesy explosions, but it holds up remarkably well as a study of characters who are pushed beyond their breaking points. — Chris Lay
SATURDAY MAY 6
Third Coast Percussion And Glenn Kotche. Capitol Theater, 8 p.m.
For those left craving more after the recent performance of Steve Reich’s Music For 18 Musicians at Overture Center — or So Percussion’s November 2015 visit to the Union Theater—Chicago-based experimental rhythm trio Third Coast Percussion and Wilco drum explorer Glenn Kotche’s collaborative performance here should definitely scratch a similar itch. As a quartet, they’ll perform the Kotche-composed “Wild Sound,” which features both traditional percussion elements — like bells, cymbals, and drums — and bizarre, homemade, and modified instruments like Kotche’s prepared snare (as shown in the video below), and the they’ll be built off of a series of field recordings that Kotche captured while touring internationally. So, while Third Coast and Kotche will definitely be drifting in and out of moments that could be described as Reichian, there’s also an exciting element of bizarro shit-rigging that will conjure sounds that you can only hear if present. —JS
Free Comic Book Day. Multiple locations, see link for full listing. (free)
Look, if you’re going to Free Comic Book Day in hopes of gripping some serious collector’s item or a masterfully-crafted, mind-blowing story for free, forget it. Also, most of the giveaways on offer this year are aimed at young teens or children. What the day should really be about is checking out Madison’s surprisingly great crop of local comic shops and shelling out a few bones for the good stuff. Madison’s newest upstart, A New Hope, which neighbors beloved metal and punk-centered record shop Earwax Records just off of State Street, has well-curated selection of reasonably priced back issues, trade paperbacks, and toys to salivate over. In the Willy Street area (and also on the West side), Westfield Comics focuses on the new stuff, holding down a massive selection of current issues, trades, and one-off graphic novels from a wide swath of publishers — somehow keeping up with the insane influx of superhero books, but not ignoring the weirder, more adult-oriented stuff offered by Image, Dark Horse, and Vertigo. Of course, Capital City Comics on Monroe Street has been around forever, and has an insane selection of both current and back issues, but don’t expect to catch some great deal, because a lot of the back issues aren’t priced until you bring them to the counter, where the owner will pull his price guide out and charge you a collector’s rate. That said, if you’re looking for it, they probably have it. Finally, there’s Graham Cracker on Madison’s East side (in the strip mall across from Ella’s Deli). The Midwest chain, which also has two locations in Chicago, has a mind-blowing selection of reasonably priced back issues and carries a ton of current books too. As far as the books that are available for free, the one I’m admittedly pretty stoked on is the Wonder Woman Special Edition #1, which was penned by the Eisner award-winning Greg Rucka, who’s probably best known for his awesome, gritty work on Detective Comics and The Punisher. So yeah, temper your expectations for the free shit, but definitely use this as an excuse to check out all the great local comic zones. — JS
SUNDAY MAY 7
Malcolm London, Rich Robbins. Frequency, 8 p.m.
Chicago poet/activist/MC Malcolm London’s 2016 debut album, Opia, came on the heels of several years that saw him gain prominence in the spoken-word scene, host a youth open-mic with Chance The Rapper, played a high-profile role in protests over police violence and educational inequality in his hometown, and weather sexual-assault allegations. Much of Opia feels both hopeful and plaintively sad, especially “Westside In The Rain,” whose hook expresses a wish “Just to see Kedzie [Avenue in Chicago] without caution tape.” But it also reaches to other ends of the emotional spectrum, as London raps hoarsely over a sparse, foreboding beat on “Get It Right” and pairs with silky R&B crooner How To Dress Well on the upbeat “House Party.” — SG
Jurassic Park. Chazen Museum of Art, 2 p.m. (free)
In case you were not aware, 1993 was a long time ago. Long enough to forget that Jurassic Park started life as a Michael Crichton novel in 1990. Long enough to forget there was an era of human history where it wasn’t a foregone conclusion that most bestselling novels would be adapted into a film. Long enough to forget that Jurassic Park, the Steven Spielberg-directed movie based on the book, is actually really solid and fun. It’s also so much more substantial than the pop-culture references it has inspired. The Chazen’s series paying tribute to film composer John Williams draws to a close here with a screening of the Jurassic Park series’ debut — which has aged into a nearly quaint take on the now familiar and terrifying premise of geneticists bringing dinosaurs back to life. Williams’ whimsy and ability to sweeten is on full display, and this one is overall a good movie to watch to keep in mind as this year’s summer blockbusters storm the gates. — David Wolinsky
Micro-Wave Cinema Series: Northern Light. Vilas Hall, 7 p.m. (free)
If the trailer is any indication, Nick Bentgen and Lisa Kjerulff’s film Northern Light will wrap up the spring season of the Micro-Wave Cinema Series with a bang. The film documents three families in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, each one still reeling in various ways from the housing crisis, while an annual snowmobile race rages in the background. It’s an artfully presented warts-and-all look at the sort of working class America so many of us are ruminating over in the wake of last year’s election. Relatively unknown when it was released in 2013, Northern Light is an exceptional film worthy of rediscover now that we find ourselves living in the shadow of Trump’s White House and trying to make sense of the people who put him there. — CL
WEDNESDAY MAY 10
Curse, Coordinated Suicides, And Illusions. Mickey’s Tavern, 10 p.m. (free)
While a lot of dark, synth-oriented projects have steered toward moody synth-pop or the foggy dungeon-dance vibes of industrial techno as of late, Baltimore-based duo Curse have set their sights toward something heavier, more theatrical, and seemingly metal-inspired. This holds particularly true on II, the gritty longplayer they dropped last year. Opening dirge “Per Adua Ad Astra” builds into an oozing slab of pulsating synth layers, as the explosive drumming of Logan Terkelson ritualistically breaks ground before moving into the bleak march of “Geologian,” which introduces the brooding wails of synth-wizard and vocalist Jane Vincent. Some of the the strongest moments on II are when Curse scales back the visceral pounding and replaces it with the soaring goth-pop charms of “Spectre At The Feast” and elegantly creepy dance cut “Round Down.” — JS
Trophy Dad, Dash Hounds, Emma Fish, Laundry. High Noon Saloon, 8 p.m.
Madison band Trophy Dad made a charming debut with 2015’s Shirtless Algebra Fridays, but their frizzy, punchy, and sometimes wistful pop took on a new clarity with the release of last year’s single “Addison.” The song builds up patiently as bassist/singer Abby Sherman’s lyrics unpack a tangled relationship, then offering some release near the end with a distorted but achingly melodic guitar hook. The song also appears on the band’s new EP, Dogman, which will be released a few days before this show. Additionally, it’s always worth catching a set from gorgeously morose Madison band Dash Hounds. — SG