Milo, Anders Svanoe, “The Crazies,” Drug Spider, and more events of note in Madison this week.
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THURSDAY NOVEMBER 30
TS Foss, Longface, Bad History Month, According To What. Williamson Magnetic Recording Company, 7:30 p.m.
Boston’s Sean Bean, who plays here as Bad History Month, takes a massive approach to singer-songwriterdom. On his recent release, Dead And Loving It, Bean pours out thoughts, stories, frustrations, and feelings through mostly acoustic guitar-driven songs, but works in a number of other instruments and effects that prove just as expressive as the lyrics. Sometimes Bean takes 10 minutes to slowly orchestrate these musical and lyrical landscapes, but he also packs a lot of intensity into some of the album’s shorter tracks. Dead And Loving It is essentially structureless and linear, yielding a strong sense of liberation and unexpectedness that somehow still feels familiar as it orients itself in the listener’s own raw train of thought. Chicago’s Longface play here as well behind their recently released debut of noisy, folky rock & roll. Local guitarist and songwriter Tyler Fassnacht (Fire Heads, The Hussy, Proud Parents, etc.) performs here, sporting his sensitive side as TS Foss, and locals According To What make their live debut. —Emili Earhart
Chicago songwriter Izzy Olive hones in on country-infused indie rock in her full-band project Half Gringa. Olive grapples with her multicultural identity, often hinted at in her blended Americana flavors through smoky electric guitar color, silky trumpet lines, and occasional Latin drum rhythms. She often documents clearly imprinted memories in her lyrics, singing casually of domestic arguments, or fiercely of seemingly random views such as conflicting thermos-versus-mug preferences. Other times, Olive cloaks her sentiments and stories in obscurities, weighting her words with the color of her voice and orchestrations of her band. Chicago outfit Minor Moon, project of folk-rock artist Sam Cantor, play here behind their 2017 EP What Our Enemies Know, which incorporates a hint of classic psychedelia by bathing in Wurlitzer organ tones. Local outfits Gentle Brontosaurus, who play quirky indie pop, and Heavy Looks, who are as playful as they are powerful, perform here as well. —Emili Earhart
FRIDAY DECEMBER 1
Anders Svanoe, a Madison-based saxophonist who has played with avant-jazz luminary Roscoe Mitchell and such local staples as Tony Castañeda, is on a mission for the baritone sax in particular. On last year’s album State Of The Baritone, Svanoe began laying out a conceptual statement about his favored instrument’s versatility and his own curiosity as a composer. In Svanoe’s hands, the baritone often sounds as fluid and charismatic as the tenor sax, the instrument most of us think of when we think about saxophones. At this show, Svanoe, drummer Rodrigo Villanueva-Conroy, and bassist John Christensen will celebrate the release of the follow-up album, State Of The Baritone Volume 2. While its predecessor was a series of compositions that deliberately hopped across different styles (nodding at influences from Sonny Rollins to Iron Maiden), the new album is decidedly a trio record. This same trio played on the first album, minus a suite of tracks recorded with pianist Wendy Ward, but SOTB Volume 2 focuses more on taking advantage of the flexibility and conversational exchange at which sax-bass-drums trios excel. Results span from the playful and mellow “Beagle Pilot” to deconstructed, texture-heavy explorations like “One On One” and “Space-Time,” and just to drive home the point of the whole affair, Svanoe goes it alone for nearly nine minutes on the closing track, “Soloist.” With any luck, that same variety and unpredictability will be on display at this show. —Scott Gordon
This event celebrates Madison Public Library Bubbler program artist-in-residence Kim Charles Kay’s new exhibition Family Is A Form: Made & Remade, which incorporates drawings of families and familial experiences by children and parents from from the Post Adoption Resource Center network. Featured on the library’s third floor, this interactive, multi-media show welcomes further exploration and creation by exhibition guests. The work of Madison-based artist Jennifer Bastian is also on display here, with Who Matters?: An Intergenerational Photo And Story Project opening on the first floor. Bastian, in collaboration with local author Pam Philips Olson, the Madison Public Library, and the Madison Senior Center, captures multi-generational relationships through photography and recorded stories. The relationships showcased in this exhibition were gathered over a series of sessions between Olson, Bastian, and the friends, families, and neighbors with whom they connected. Also featured on the first floor is Sone Una Milpa (the title means “I dreamed of a corn field”), a collaborative project between two artists that explores the experiences of Latina immigrants. A Texan and Mexican-American, Madison-based artist J. Leigh Garcia grapples with Tejano culture through a variety of media. Maria Amalia, a Honduran artist currently residing in Madison, creates semi-autobiographical work that communicates and explores her own memories between Central America and the American Midwest. On the second floor, Lindsay Marx exhibits Curious, a piece to which Marx has been returning for 10 years. Her work explores children’s curiosity and how that translates to and by adults. —Emili Earhart
SATURDAY DECEMBER 2
Jazz pianist and New School alumnus Brad Mehldau has led and collaborated in an array of jazz projects, in addition to his work in solo performance. Mehldau’s history of noteworthy duos includes work with operatic vocalists such as soprano Renée Fleming and mezzo Anne Sofie von Otter, mandolinist Chris Thile, and a particularly adventurous release with drummer Mark Guiliana. Mehldau performs here with a trio, which he has previously co-led as a quartet with guitarist Pat Metheny, includes bassist Larry Grenadier and drummer Jeff Ballard. The ensemble has released a number of albums on Nonesuch, their most recent being Blues And Ballads, a compilation of covers. Many of Mehldau’s reworkings have been in various pop realms, tackling anything from the standards and showtunes of Cole Porter to the Beatles, as well as less obvious choices for a jazz pianist, such as songs by Soundgarden or Radiohead. Mehldau’s status as a key proponent in current jazz piano is defined by his adventurous yet accessible take on both the standards and contemporaries. —Emili Earhart
UW Cinematheque’s fall season has included screenings honoring two directors who died this past year, Jonathan Demme and George A. Romero. On the final night of these tributes, the 1973 sci-fi thriller The Crazies shows off the frantic cinematography and socially apt commentary that made Romero famous. This cult classic follows the aftermath of the accidental release of a military biological weapon into the water supply of a small town in Pennsylvania. The town is infiltrated by a team of military soldiers adorned with hazmat suits who try and contain the epidemic, but the infected townsfolk begin to fight back. Scenes of enraged and murderous citizens fighting the military are spliced with the timeless imagery of 1970’s mustaches, bellbottoms, and groovy chest-hair. Romero’s thematic pacing and writing create ample moments of humor and fright. The Crazies received mixed reviews upon its initial release, but viewers have warmed to it in the years since, especially as they developed more appreciation for Romero’s legacy. The film also inspired a lukewarm remake in 2010. —John McCracken
SUNDAY DECEMBER 3
Despite storylines concerning bull fighting, car accidents, comatose patients, and sexual assault, Talk To Her (Hable Con Ella) is one of Pedro Almodóvar’s quieter affairs, an immensely effective and empathetic study of loneliness, loss and friendship. Released in 2002, Talk To Her is centered around the budding friendship of two men in a Spanish coma ward and the women they take care of, the women’s stories developed in flashbacks throughout the film. Benigno (Javier Cámara) is a sexually ambiguous and repressed nurse infatuated with a comatose dancer he used to watch from his apartment window and Marco (Darío Grandinetti) is the journalist boyfriend of a prominent matador named Lydia (Rosario Flores). Talk To Her was both commercially and critically successful, scoring festival and awards show wins worldwide for best foreign film, best picture, best director and best screenplay (for which Almodóvar won his second Academy Award). If any fault can be found in the film, it’s in its depiction of sexual assault, because Almodóvar’s clearly banking on the viewer’s sympathy for the assaulter. Though there is nuance to be found in the depiction, with a political climate that demands swift accountability and consequences sexual harassment and assault, it’s a depiction a modern-day audience may not have much patience for. —Caleb Oakley
Formed in Hungary in 1975, the Takács Quartet has held the position of quartet-in-residence at University of Colorado-Boulder since 1982. Takács boast a Grammy for Best Chamber Music Performance (2003) for recordings of Beethoven’s Rasumovsky and Harp quartets, and have released the complete Beethoven string quartets at different points in their discography, which also includes performances of Borodin, Bartók, Hayden, Schubert, among others. For this program, they perform the Mozart String Quartet K575, Shostakovich Quartet No. 11 as well as the Brahms Piano Quintet. Joining them for the Brahms is American pianist Garrick Ohlsson. This Quintet in F minor commands the listener immediately in the first movement with a hooky, sinister theme in unison. Weaving the piece through moody modulations, the theme returns in multiple incarnations by the performers, and haunts the listener even after the captivatingly melancholic fourth and final movement. With a history of collaborations with Takács, Ohlsson also boasts an extensive survey of solo piano works including Chopin’s complete piano music and Busoni’s Piano Concerto. Ohlsson has released music on a number of labels including RCA’s Red Seal, Nonesuch, and EMI. —Emili Earhart
WEDNESDAY DECEMBER 6
Madison instrumental-rock band Drug Spider emerged this past summer and have been playing often enough that they already feel like something of a fixture in the local music community, and a welcome one at that. Drug Spider share in some of post-rock’s moody atmospheres, soaring melodies, and ponderous song titles, but the music on the recent six-song demo Fear Of Quiet Places also has a stark, unpretentious feel. These songs keep the billowy delay in check and emphasize consistent melodic through-lines, whether it’s the chunky riffs that pin together “Dying Of Hunger, Never Of Thirst” or the mournful spaghetti-Western figure that bookends “Dreams That Weigh You, Release You.” The band (whose members have played in other local projects including Heavy Looks, Red Rose, and TL;DR) plans to do some more recording this winter and release a proper EP in the spring. —Scott Gordon
Good lord. What do you even say about Little Rock, Arkansas-formed nu-metal megastars Evanescence these days? Could vocalist Amy Lee possibly have to carry any more weight on her back? She’s like LeBron James carrying the Cleveland Cavs around—working desperately to use her soaring, melodramatic vocal arrangements to push the most blandly uninspired post-grunge guitar riffs and clunky drum grooves toward some kind of greater purpose. Ever since Evanescence’s 2003 major-label debut Fallen popped up out of nowhere to give nu-metal its final crossover death gasp and sell more than 17 million units, the band’s lineup has completely turned over, and they’ve effectively been running in place. Also, what a bummer to be some die-hard Evanescence fan who’s been waiting seven years for a new album since 2011’s self-titled release and the band’s subsequent hiatus, only to get this year’s Synthesis, which, despite being called a “new album,” is primarily just reinterpretations of their old songs. It’s easy to find charm in the sharp production, the forced orchestral flare, and Lee’s big hooks, but as long as Evanescence works within the whiny radio-rock framework that’s tailored to appeal to angsty teenagers, their audience will keep growing into adulthood, discovering the Cocteau Twins, and jumping ship. —Joel Shanahan
Rory Ferreira’s growth as a rapper has been exponential. Under the stage name Milo, he has released mixtapes, EPs, and worked with collectives such as Hellfyre Club and his own Ruby Yacht. But through the years, Milo’s approach to rap has always questions and critiqued. He builds and raps over unorthodox beats while sampling vocals clips that discuss philosophy, art, and race in America. Milo’s most recent release, Who Told You To Think??!!?!?!?!, charts his growth as a person in the lyrical content while also showcasing his artistic fury in the production and song composition. Milo’s early material is a gateway into the world of independently released, produced, and promoted art-rap, but his newest release is a testament to his ability to continually shape-shift and create exciting music. Who Told You To Think ??!!?!?!?! is the mountain that Milo has been climbing for years that he now stands atop of, sharing the fruits of his labor. Milo also will open for himself here, honing lo-fi instrumentals and experimental songs under the moniker Scallops Hotel. —John McCracken
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