Laverne Cox, Horse Lords, Curse, spring gallery night, and more events of note in Madison this week. | By Scott Gordon, Chris Lay, Joel Shanahan
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THURSDAY MAY 5
Hanging Hearts. Audio For The Arts, 7:30 p.m.
Somewhere between the slanted smoothness of Freddie Hubbard’s “First Light” and the sonic whirlwind of Cecil Taylor’s “Steps,” there’s an art-damaged, but still accessible bridge occupied by Chicago-based jazz trio Hanging Hearts. On their self-titled 2014 full-length, exemplary album opener “D. Rover” rides on a loose, mid-tempo groove from drummer Devin Drobka that periodically melts into some sort of deranged acid waterfall before solidifying into bobbable bars again. Saxophonist Chris Weller’s contorting lines occasionally rest in traditionally lounge-y melodic comforts, but are almost always locked into a conversation with keyboardist Cole DeGenova that wildly scales the emotional spectrum—weathering blissful peaks and deep valleys of chaotic, free-jazz tumult. The trio is set to hit the studio in June to record a new album. —Joel Shanahan
Tommy Johnagin. Comedy Club on State, through May 7, see link for all showtimes.
David Letterman was a lot of things to a lot of people, but for standup comedians he was a gatekeeper. Getting to do a set on Late Night was a rite of passage, and to get invited back was the ultimate sign that you’re on the right track. Well, Tommy Johnagin has been on Letterman no less than seven times, which gives us a fair bit of confidence that he’ll put on a worthwhile run of shows in town this weekend. Most of Johnagin’s material is rooted in some of the most hackneyed premises (Relationships! Sex! Getting old! Women!), but he approaches it from unexpected angles, and the casual frankness of his delivery keeps the more explicit topics from becoming grotesque. He’s one of those guys who seems to have an impeccably structured a bit about everything under the sun, stacking them on top of each other like a masterful comedy architect. Alex Stone features and Madison’s Dan Bacula will host. —Chris Lay
In The Mood For Love. Central Library, 6:30 p.m. (free)
Wong Kar Wai’s 2000 drama In The Mood For Love stars Tony Leung Chiu-wai and Maggie Cheung Man-yuk as two apartment dwellers who embark on a strange not-quite-affair in early-1960s Hong Kong. Cheung and Leung are next-door neighbors whose spouses are having an extramarital affair with each other. They cope by growing close to each other, but without indulging in full-on adultery themselves. In a 2001 review, Roger Ebert wrote that “whole continents of emotions go unexplored” in the film, but that comes off as praise for Wong’s restrained handling of the story. —Scott Gordon
FRIDAY MAY 6
L.A. Witch, Levitation Room, Vanishing Kids. Frequency, 9 p.m.
Los Angeles trio L.A. Witch play mid-tempo punk songs cloaked in dark, reverb-aided atmosphere and menacing jangle. The band’s only put out a handful of singles and EPs so far, but they strike a good balance between direct, snotty songwriting and rhythmic variety, especially on the ominous stagger of “You Love Nothing,” from 2014’s self-titled EP. They play here behind a new 7-inch, Drive Your Car. Opening up are Madison band Vanishing Kids, who shared a new song with us this week and will be releasing a new tape at this show. —Scott Gordon
The Long Goodbye. Vilas Hall, 7 p.m. (free)
Altman flipped the Western genre on its head with 1971’s McCabe & Mrs. Miller, and then two years later took on the hard-boiled world of private investigators with The Long Goodbye, his unique spin on the noir genre. Based on Raymond Chandler’s novel of the same title, it follows follow private dick Philip Marlowe (Elliott Gould) while he wanders across LA attempting to untangle the mystery of who killed his friend’s wife. It’s a slow burn of a film that’s not in any rush to get to any answers, but once the pieces all start falling into place it gets interesting real fast. Keep your eyes peeled for a cameo from Arnold Schwarzenegger, fresh off his feature-film debut as the titular Hercules In New York. —CL
Gallery Night. Multiple venues, 5 to 9 p.m. (free)
Gallery Night, organized by the Madison Museum of Contemporary Art, happens twice a year and we pretty much always greet it with two caveats. First, with literally dozens of venues involved across the city (from actual galleries to various retailers and restaurants), you’ll experience varied artistic quality and maybe some tedious mingling. Second, it’s totally worth setting out with a map and some friends and taking the excuse to explore some of the city’s tucked-away art spaces, from Edgewood College’s Lake Wingra-adjacent gallery (which will be hosting photos from Eric Baillies and Laurel Lueders) to UW-Madison’s Design Gallery (hosting MFA exhibitions from Jessica Frantal and Mali Winfield Mrozinski) to east-side glass outfit Studio Paran (where owner Richard Jones typically uses Gallery Night to give glassblowing demonstrations and show off the more abstract pieces he creates outside of his commercial work). Sure, it’s a lot, but if you’re persistent you’ll likely stumble onto something rewarding. —SG
SATURDAY MAY 7
Free Comic Book Day. all day, multiple locations, see link for details.
This year marks the 15th anniversary of Free Comic Book Day packing ’em in at your local brick and mortar, comics shop. If this is your first time hearing about it, what happens is that publishers put together a bunch of books that are to be given away 100% free. From its beginning, one of the goals of the event has been to get comics in the hands of young readers, so at least half of the stuff getting passed out is decidedly kid-friendly, but don’t worry if indie publishers and the big two (Marvel & DC) are more your speed, since they’ll be well represented as well. Some early highlights include The Tick, Bob’s Burgers, and believe it or not… Grumpy Cat. The past couple of years I’ve been stopping in at Westfield on Willy Street, there’s been a guy dressed up as Boba Fett, so uh, bring the kids because there’s that whole thing going on too. You can find the nearest store here and check out the whole lineup of freebies over here. —CL
The monthly Rated Her series showcases female comedians and musicians, as part of Madisonian performer and booker Tulin Waters’ ongoing efforts to create improved and unusual formats for local artists. This time out, the “Acoustic Divas” will be Irene Keenan Jr. and Raine Stern, plus “Comedy Divas” Addie Blanchard, Monica Schocolate, and Shawna Lutzow! Headlining everything will be Chicago’s Tamale Sepp. —CL
Police Story. Union South Marquee, 10 p.m. (free)
Jackie Chan is an international treasure. Maybe even universal. There. I said it. Personally, I’ll take Drunken Master over this, but holy moly is 1985’s Police Story still a phenomenal example of the way Chan, at his best, was able to blend gorgeous fight choreography, deadly serious stunt work, and wonderful little slapstick moments all under the guise of a shaggy dog police procedural. I mean, there’s a scene in here where Chan steps in a pile of shit and moonwalks that thing right off. If that last point doesn’t have you clearing out some acreage in your Google Calendar, then I can’t help you. —CL
Curse, Static Eyes, Neens, The Momotaros, The Gonzo Rongs. Lothlorien Co-op, 8 p.m.
On this year’s II, Baltimore duo Curse pull bits from the darkest reaches of synth pop and the moodier end of doom and dumps them into a murky brew all their own. From the opening drones of “Per Adua Ad Astra,” the tune quickly erupts into a bleakly enveloping dirge with drummer Logan Terkelsen’s hammering rhythms rolling out beneath vocalist Jane Vincent’s maddening wails and screams, as her heavily textured wall of synthesizers slither and pulsate about. Another standout track, “Round Down” shoves the overall unsettling tone of II through a brighter pop lens, slapping a danceable, down-tempo beat below a velvet patchwork of infectious synth lines, crackling noises, and brooding vocal melodies. —JS
SUNDAY MAY 8
Strfkr, Com Truise, Fake Drugs. Majestic, 8 p.m.
For the last several years, Princeton, New Jersey-based producer Com Truise (née Seth Haley) has been taking slices of German synth music and 1980s synth-funk and expanding those elements sonically through beefed-up production that makes it sound like it’s being jammed through some fading, retrofied Instagram filter. And while Haley’s arrangements are typically pretty damned detailed, this year’s Silicon Tare EP shoves it even further. The heavy Linndrum-powered groove of “Sunspot” keeps active, punctuating every few bars with complex fills, as Haley’s jazzy chord progressions swirl and stab above, and shimmering arpeggios stutter about. While the stomping rhythm of “Du Zirconia” pulls it within dangerously close range of bro-step, its jerky kicks keep it feeling as though Haley is really just searching for hidden hooks within the four-on-the-floor pounding. A big subby bassline fills out the low end as an animated network of synth lines flutter and chirp at each other. —JS
Micro-Wave Cinema: A Morning Light. Vilas Hall, 7 p.m. (free)
The spring season at Micro-Wave Cinema—a series focusing on super-low-budget and experimental independent films, curated by Madison-based filmmaker and film scholar Brandon Colvin—concludes with Portland, Oregon filmmaker Ian Clark’s 2015 feature A Morning Light. Along with this season’s selection For The Plasma and last season’s How The Sky Will Melt, this suggests Micro-Wave has a budding affinity for resourceful, atmospheric takes on sci-fi. It stars Zach Weintraub and Celia Rowlson-Hall as two friends who become obsessed with what they believe is a mysterious presence in the Oregon forest. —SG
MONDAY MAY 9
Distinguished Lecture Series: Laverne Cox. Union Theater, 7:30 p.m. (free)
The Netflix dramedy Orange Is The New Black, set in a minimum-security women’s prison, propelled Laverne Cox from obscurity to prominence as an actor and an advocate for trans women. Cox, who portrays a trans prisoner on the show, has used her newfound stardom to push for greater understanding and acceptance of trans people and the LGBT community more generally, and her OINTB character, Sophia, draws attention to the very real issues that trans people face when incarcerated. She speaks here as part of the Distinguished Lecture Series, ahead of the June drop of OINTB season 4. —SG
TUESDAY MAY 10
Horse Lords, Lens. Williamson Magnetic Recording Company, 7 p.m.
We at Tone Madison are curating and presenting this show from Baltimore band Horse Lords, who play here behind their third album, the recently released Interventions. Horse Lords combine sax, custom-modified guitars, electronics, and a churning rhythm section into music that proves at once abstract and visceral, drawing on elements ranging from post-punk to free jazz to West African music. The highlights on Interventions include the circular, harmonically warped riffing of opener “Truthers” and the fierce polyrhythmic stutter of “Bending To The Lash,” and we’re hoping their balance of immediacy and complexity makes for even more thrilling results live. The show begins with a set from Madison musician Dan Woodman’s experimental solo project Lens, which brings together elements of dub, drone, and noise in unsettling yet warmly dynamic sets. —SG
WEDNESDAY MAY 11
Black Mountain, White Hills. High Noon Saloon, 8 p.m.
Vancouver band Black Mountain still manages to bring a refreshing ear to the well-trodden realm of heavy psych rock on IV, its first proper full-length in six years. It’s definitely not topping the dread-wracked grandeur of the band’s second album, 2008’s In The Future, but when Amber Webber sends her eerie vocal hooks across the austere boogie and synth lines of “Constellations” or the ominous organ chords of “Mothers Of The Sun,” we’re right back in Black Mountain’s sweet spot, a zone that’s at once earnestly rocking and playfully bizarre. As always with this band, there are heady side trips, like the 9-minute “(Over And Over) The Chain” and the warm yet snide psych-folk tune “Crucify Me.” The songwriting and arrangements still hit that elusive seam between catchy and fucked-up, and as much as they stretch out and experiment, Black Mountain almost never get bogged down in instrumental frippery or exaggerated swagger. It’s good to have them back. —SG