SOLD, Julien Baker, Dead Boys, “My Favorite Murder,” and more events of note in Madison this week. | By Ian Adcock, Emili Earhart, Scott Gordon, Chris Lay, John McCracken, Mike Noto, Caleb Oakley, Grant Phipps, and David Wolinsky
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THURSDAY OCTOBER 19
Bad Cinema: The Video Dead. Central Library, 6:30 p.m. (free)
Later this season, UW Cinematheque will pay tribute to the late George A. Romero with screenings of his zombie classic Night Of The Living Dead (Nov. 18) and his 1973 film The Crazies (Dec. 2)—but first, a reminder that the enduring zombie fascination Romero ushered in has also led plenty of filmmakers astray. In Robert Scott’s 1987 straight-to-video release The Video Dead, the zombies live inside a TV that can turn itself on (even when unplugged!) and that haplessly gets shipped to a suburban neighborhood. The TV also only shows a movie called Zombie Blood Nightmare (no doubt intended as some kind of homage), and the zombies will emerge from the screen and into the real world unless a mirror is placed against the screen. Also, two of the protagonists are a pair of teenage siblings who move into their new house in the neighborhood alone, while their parents are away in Saudi Arabia. To be fair, The Video Dead makes some honest stabs at dark humor and gory effects, and isn’t as much of a blazing shitshow as some entries in the Madison Public Library’s Bad Cinema series. That said, it’s definitely clunky in execution, and unless you just have to catch anything and everything with zombies and/or a heap of gore in it, you likely won’t find much satisfaction here. —Scott Gordon
FRIDAY OCTOBER 20
Golden Donna, Beau Wanzer, DJ Lauden. Union South Sett, 9 p.m. (free)
Beau Wanzer’s music grooves within the realm of industrial techno as much as it squirms through ominous esoterica, on releases from labels including L.I.E.S. and Russian Torrents Versions. But the Chicago-based producer’s oddball references and selections can shift into a crazed aesthetic, especially in his DJ mixes. Pulling from the fringes of dance music, noting cult-horror movie subculture, and occasionally indulging in comedic or grotesque non-dance tracks, Wanzer creates a disorienting atmosphere for freaks on any level. Madison’s Joel Shanahan (who is a Tone Madison contributor) will also performs at this Halloween-themed night as Golden Donna, behind an ever-changing dance set, molded together in leftfield through thoughtful sound sculpting. Shanahan organically shape-shifts sound in and out of tight techno and house patterns, creating something both accessible and adventurous for both the listener and the dancer. DJ Lauden of TV Dinner will be spinning here as well with eccentric and comprehensive selections that keep you on your feet. —Emili Earhart
My Favorite Murder. Orpheum, 8 p.m. (also Oct. 21)
It’s been a year and a half since Karen Kilgariff and Georgia Hardstark launched their wildly successful true-crime podcast My Favorite Murder on the Feral Audio network. As I type this, it sits at number 22 on the list of overall top podcasts in Apple Podcasts and at number 4 in the comedy category. That puts Kilgariff and Hardstark in the realm of newly minted podcast royalty able to offer up $150 VIP meet-and-greet ticket prices for a show that will eventually end up online for free. Each episode finds the hosts zeroing in on a single murder, sometimes a well-known one and sometimes a more obscure one, laying out the reasonably well-researched details in between musings about this and that along the way. Kilgariff (who you may recognize from Mr. Show) and Hardstark have an incredible chemistry on the podcast, and their folksy approach manages to make the oftentimes gruesome tidbits come off as effervescently palatable. Having already touched on Kenosha’s notorious Slender Man stabbing on a previous mini-sode, there’s no telling what south-central Wisconsin slayer they might tackle from the Orpheum stage. Dahmer? Gein? Updating their early coverage of the Dassey boys? My money’s on the still-unsolved “Mad City Murders” that went down from 1968 to 1982… but you never know. —Chris Lay
Every Time I Die, Knocked Loose, Hollow Earth. High Noon Saloon, 8 p.m.
Metalcore veterans Every Time I Die have put out eight albums since their formation in 1998. Their most recent album, Low Teens, is also their most gripping to date. The album tells a story of fear, grief, and anger as lead vocalist Keith Buckley recounts the premature and almost fatal birth of his first daughter. One standout track, “Map Changes,” is a riveting ballad, homage, and love song to the band’s hometown of Buffalo. Hollow Earth, from Detroit, is a menacing melodic metal band whose 2014 album Silent Graves pulls listeners into a swirl of energy and malice. Knocked Loose is a beatdown hardcore band from Oldham County, Kentucky, that leaves nothing unsaid. Their pure force, noise, and ferocity gained a strong following after their first release, Pop Culture, but their newest album, Laugh Tracks, is a kick in the teeth at every corner. —John McCracken
Julien Baker, Half Waif. Majestic, 9 p.m.
Memphis singer/guitarist Julien Baker’s 2015 solo release, Sprained Ankle, delves into her internal struggles with faith, identity, substance abuse, and depression. On this quiet and profound album, Baker tackles her internal conflict of sexuality and faith (she is a proclaimed Christian and also identifies as a lesbian), crafting shimmering melodies but singing with a dreary tinge. Sprained Ankle confronts her love for her home state of Tennessee and shows the world that being gay and Southern is not an anomaly. Baker’s newest single, “Appointments,” is full of bright guitars that swirl into epiphany, backed by piano and Baker’s haunting lyrics: “Maybe it’s all going to turn out alright / And I know that it’s not / But I have to believe that it is.” This single is from her new album Turn Out The Lights, due October 27. The night will start off with a performance from Half Waif, an electro-pop group whose recent release, form/a, is a dreamy adventure. Lo-fi Scranton, Pennsylvania rock band Petal will be opening the night. —John McCracken
Joe Policastro Trio. Arts + Literature Laboratory, 8 p.m.
The Joe Policastro Trio’s new album, Screen Sounds, follows a long jazz tradition of reinterpreting songs from film soundtracks and musicals (think John Coltrane’s transcendent version of The Sound Of Music’s “My Favorite Things” or Cannonball Adderley’s album-length take on Fiddler On The Roof). The Chicago outfit makes an interesting mix of choices, starting the album with the main theme from Akira Kurosawa’s samurai-Western classic Yojimbo and ending it with Shadowy Men On A Shadowy Planet’s intro music for the great Canadian sketch-comedy show The Kids In The Hall. More importantly, bassist Policastro, guitarist Dave Miller, and drummer Mikel Avery find a variety of sonic approaches here. On “Nadia’s Theme” from The Young And The Restless, they stir up a beautiful, sighing tumult that recalls the dynamism of Dirty Three, with Policastro’s bass rippling under Miller’s tastefully overdriven electric guitar. They’re more mannered and laid-back on the main theme from Cool Hand Luke, and they turn Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah” (someone in the band must be a Shrek fan!) into a bittersweet, reverb-tinged waltz. The Twin Peaks theme, in the absence of shimmering FM synths, becomes more of a tender exchange. —Scott Gordon
SATURDAY OCTOBER 21
Jerome Derradji, SOLD, Evan Woodward, Nathan Port. Robinia Courtyard, 10 p.m.
Two people who are wrapped up pretty deeply in pushing Chicago’s dance scene forward spin DJ sets here. Jerome Derradji runs the Still Music label (and a lot of events under that banner), which embraces a wide range of dance-music sounds. Derradji’s own work as a producer embodies that approach as well, from last year’s tense, techno-rooted Machine Jacked 12-inch to the swinging collision of disco and dub on the more recent Brighter Days 12-inch. Glenna Fitch DJs under the name SOLD, and creates mixes that reach across ambient and avant-garde textures as capably as they do propulsive house and techno beats. In addition to their DJ work, Fitch also helps to organize the quarterly Hugo Ball series at Chicago dance-music institution Smartbar, and sculpts the techno selection at dance-centered record store Gramaphone. Madisonians Evan Woodward and Nathan Port join them here. —Scott Gordon
Terminal Island. Vilas Hall, 7 p.m. (free)
Director Stephanie Rothman got her start working for Roger Corman, but unlike many of her male contemporaries, she never got a chance to break out of low-budget exploitation filmmaking. Instead, she subverted genre film norms by adding feminist and socialist subtext beneath the sex and violence expected of drive-in filler like The Student Nurses (which UW Cinematheque will screen on October 28) and It’s A Bikini World. In 1973’s Terminal Island, set in a very 1970s near-future California, convicted murderers are exiled to a remote island where the prisoners have created their own brutal society cut off from the outside world. The arrival of new convict Joyce sets off a war between the authoritarian island ruler, Bobby, and a gang of revolutionaries seeking a more egalitarian society. Though Rothman instills some self-awareness into the chauvinistic sleaze, Terminal Island is still pure no-budget grindhouse women-in-prison trash filmmaking, full of sadistic violence, nudity, and big ’70s mustaches—and as you can tell by the trailer, the results are very, very offensive. —Ian Adcock
Brennan Connors & Stray Passage, Invisible Guy. Mason Lounge, 6:30 p.m. (free)
Madison jazz trio Brennan Connors & Stray Passage will play here to celebrate the release of its debut album, Emergence. Drawn from performances recorded before a live audience in March 2016, the album finds Connors (tenor and soprano sax), Brian Grimm (cello and electric bass), and Geoff Brady (percussion) delving deep into free improvisation. And the material is truly all over the map, from quiet, textural improvisations to noisy outbursts to passages of fluid and thorny melody in between. Having attended one of the shows where Emergence was recorded, I can say pretty confidently that Stray Passage has developed into one of Madison’s essential jazz outfits. They’ll share the bill here with the equally wide-ranging San Francisco trio Invisible Guy, which comprises drummer Hamir Atwal, Michael Coleman (keyboards), and Ben Goldberg (clarinet). Invisible Guy also focuses on free improvisation, but often with a harmonious, atmospheric bent that should make for a nice counterpoint to Stray Passage. —Scott Gordon
Once A Month, Kitten Forever, Scott Yoder, Cool Building. Mickey’s Tavern, 10 p.m.
Minneapolis trio Kitten Forever is a band of extremes—driving and confrontational, while equally playful and passive. On their 2016 release 7 HEARTS, they play fed up punk rock with a snotty delivery that communicates both aggression and apathy. The blunt, brazen, bass-driven melodies on 7 HEARTS serve you point-blank, but Kitten Forever is anything but straightforward. As each bass line bores through the album, perpetuating a sense of urgency, the trio diverts with intention, adding a progressive element to their song structures. Seattle’s Scott Yoder (of The Pharmacy) writes colorful, glam-saturated folk songs lodged within an array of the stylistic nostalgia in dreamy, ’60s americana songwriting. On his 2016 Burger Records release, Looking Back In Blue, Yoder combines his emotionally raw songwriting with a delivery that translates as reluctantly accepted, or hopeful despite innate hopelessness. Local self described “brat punk” outfit, Once A Month plays here as well behind a new split EP. Cool Building, a new supergroup of three Madison rippers, kick off the night. —Emili Earhart
SUNDAY OCTOBER 22
Tie Me Up! Tie Me Down! Chazen Museum of Art, 2 p.m. (free)
Before Fifty Shades Of Grey (Twilight fanfic) became a billion-dollar sensation this decade and tamed the taboo allure of BDSM, its depiction in cinema was often handled with a deft, more complex, and comedic edge, as in Steven Shainberg’s Secretary (2002). Predating that by over a decade, Tie Me Up! Tie Me Down! (1989) features one of Pedro Almodóvar’s wildest and most contentious scenarios, and it will stand as the most provocative film ever to screen in the Chazen Museum of Art (particularly for a Sunday afternoon) as part of UW Cinematheque’s semester-long retrospective of the renowned Spanish director. While it may initially strike a familiar note with its vivacious color scheme and hyperbolic characterizations—things it shares in common with Almodóvar’s previous film, Women On the Verge Of A Nervous Breakdown (1988)—the tone is noticeably edgier in the deranged motivations of principal male, former mental patient Ricky (Antonio Banderas). During his time in the institution, he’s become obsessed with his one-time lover, softcore porn star, and recovering addict Marina Osorio (Victoria Abril). In order to fulfill his lustful fantasy of beginning a family together, Ricky orchestrates a perverse scheme that involves binding and gagging Marina. Expectedly, Almodóvar observes the ensuing dynamic between the complicated psychologies of Ricky and Marina with a sense of the absurd, while their eccentric entanglement becomes a commentary on the phenomenon of Stockholm Syndrome. Despite Ennio Morricone’s lively score, the core of their connection seems to be framed and accentuated like a timeless theatrical tragedy. The MPAA wasn’t exactly sure what to make of Tie Me Up!… upon release and slapped it with the commercially fatal “X” rating, which was later revised when “NC-17” was created at the start of the ’90s. —Grant Phipps
MONDAY OCTOBER 23
Exchange, Appreciation, Appropriation, Or Assimilation? Lathrop Hall, 7 p.m. (free)
The concept of appropriation has become ever more present in discussions of everyday behavior and popular culture, as people debate who has a proper claim to various elements of culture and expression, and whether there is ever a respectful or acceptable way to borrow those things. There’s no end of opportunities to confront appropriation in music—an art form with a long history of adaptation, borrowing, blending, reinterpretation, and outright theft—and the Madison Public Philosophy group and experimental/contemporary-classical outfit Sound Out Loud Ensemble are putting their heads together to do just that. At this session and two others (October 28 at DreamBank on the Square and October 29 at Arts + Literature Laboratory), UW-Madison musicologist Andrew Fowler and Sound Out Loud will discuss and perform pieces of music such as Dvorak’s Symphony No. 9, “White Christmas,” “The Lion Sleeps Tonight,” and “Kung Fu Fighting,” offering a bit of context on each and engaging the audience in a group discussion about where these works fall when it comes to “exchange, appropriation, appreciation, and assimilation.” (Full disclosure: Sound Out Loud played a Tone Madison-curated stage at this year’s Willy Street Fair.) The range of music discussed, and the format’s mix of performance and debate, should offer a refreshing angle from which to consider these issues. —Scott Gordon
TUESDAY OCTOBER 24
Violent Femmes, Brett Newski. Barrymore, 7:30 p.m.
From the start of their recorded career, Milwaukee’s pioneering folk-punk act Violent Femmes were a vehicle for main songwriter, singer, and guitarist Gordon Gano, and whatever you think of them largely comes down to whatever you think of him. Gano was somewhat indebted to Jonathan Richman’s solo-era naïveté and overgrown adolescent candor, but crucially, Gano differed in his overt self-awareness and snotty calculation. Richman certainly cultivated his persona like any other performer, but you never got that impression from his wide-eyed songwriting or performances, nor were you supposed to. In contrast, and despite his best efforts to conceal it, Gano always sounded like someone trying his absolute hardest to work people, particularly any breathing and ambulatory female human within a 10-mile radius. The resulting tension between the intention of breezy, catchy charm and the effect of slickly grating manipulation often only felt most sincere at its nastiest (as on the trite collection of faux-middle fingers “Kiss Off” and the gross and exhausted would-be provocations of “Black Girls”), which really isn’t how nominally twee alternative rock is ever supposed to work. Yet, despite this inherently fatal flaw, the group’s style was unforgettable. Any number of rock and roll bands originally came up from acoustic street-corner busking (Hawkwind, for example), but the Femmes’ stroke of inspiration was making busking into the cornerstone of their sound and developing notably clever arrangements from there. Gano’s songs, with their prominent folk and country influences, often sounded best in acoustic settings to begin with. But he was truly lucky to find a rhythm section as inventive and fully-formed as bassist Brian Ritchie and original drummer Victor DeLorenzo. Ritchie’s signature acoustic bass shredding is often by far the most interesting part of the music, and DeLorenzo found a lot of funny and worthwhile uses for minimal standup percussion undreamed of in Moe Tucker’s philosophy. Those arrangements helped elevate a grip of memorable material on their iconic self-titled debut and the darker, more troubled follow-up Hallowed Ground into the minds of a generation of college freshmen. Whether or not that’s a good thing is up to you to decide. —Mike Noto
Tera Melos, Speedy Ortiz. High Noon Saloon, 8 p.m.
People like to say the decade we’re living in is really a mash-up of the preceding two, just with better rehashes of what was en vogue before. It’s human nature to make sense of the present based on our shared past, but as Speedy Ortiz’s has taken off since forming in 2011, the band has been reductively if accurately compared to titans like Liz Phair and Pavement. Today, what those comparisons have really come to point at is the Massachusetts quartet’s proclivity for knowingly writing empowering songs for people who would likely describe themselves as losers. Somehow angular, abrasive, and approachable all at once, the band’s songs also inject a charming amount of wry personality spread just thick enough for you to know it’s winking. (“I was the best at being second place,” sings Dupuis in “The Graduates,” from 2015’s Foil Deer.) Last year, Dupuis released her first solo album under the Sad13 moniker, Slugger, a bedroom-pop sequence of songs that likely splashed onto wider radars with the sex-positive consent-focused song, “Get A Yes.” (Which, yes, takes the whole “bedroom pop” thing to an even more literal level.) Co-headlining here are Sacramento’s equally angular and abrasive Tera Melos, whose thrill-ride compositions are more like itchy jazz-punk efforts to subdue an inevitable scratchy breakdown. Back after four years since 2013’s X’ed Out (and various solo efforts), the seemingly reinvigorated band here supports the new Trash Generator. On this new record, the band’s disparate parts—a harsh rhythm section, clean melodies, and ricocheting glee—all click into place. Expect one hell of a time here at the High Noon. —David Wolinsky
WEDNESDAY OCTOBER 25
Dead Boys, No Hoax, Clean Room. Frequency, 8:30 p.m.
The Dead Boys’ 1977 debut album, Young, Loud & Snotty, turns 40 this year, and original members Cheetah Chrome and Johnny Blitz have formed a new line-up to tour and re-record the record that’s their claim to punk rock fame. Formed in Cleveland after the collapse of Rocket From The Tombs (which also birthed Pere Ubu), the Dead Boys moved to New York City in 1976 and quickly upped the ante on the burgeoning punk scene with their violent and crass antics before breaking up three years later. You can hear a lot of what became punk-rock orthodoxy on Young, Loud & Snotty. Chrome’s chainsaw guitar attack, Stiv Bators’ snarling vocals, and the songs’ antisocial, juvenile lyrics set the standard for generations of spiky-haired miscreants that followed. It’s easy at this point to be cynical about old punk bands reuniting without key members (Bators died in 1990), but the Dead Boys aren’t as reunion-happy as many. For some people, hearing aging punks sing the lyrics of “Caught With The Meat In Your Mouth” might seem a bit cringe-worthy, but for fans this is a rare chance to see some first-wave punks perform their signature songs. Locals No Hoax and Clean Room open. —Ian Adcock
Spotlight Cinema: The Girl Without Hands. Madison Museum of Contemporary Art, 7 p.m.
While the Brothers Grimm fairytale The Girl Without Hands is the basis for this hand-drawn animated film of the same title, Sébastien Laudenbach’s debut feature is more likely to be remembered for its distinctive minimalist style. Painstakingly sketched and completed solely by Laudenbach himself, this adaptation harnesses a Zen-like aesthetic somewhat reminiscent of Isao Takahata’s Tale Of The Princess Kaguya (2013) with a warm, earthy palette on serene canvas-like backgrounds. Characters and objects may only be defined by a few thick, trembling watercolor strokes or pen lines on sparsely penciled terrain, but when those visuals combine with crisp sound design and a uniquely tender soundtrack of atmospheric pop by Olivier Mellano, it creates a whimsical yet wistful journey that feels so imaginatively full. As the fable goes, an impoverished miller makes a deal with the Devil (voiced by legendary French actor Philippe Laudenbach) for a chance at riches, but unknowingly sells his own young daughter (Anaïs Demoustier) in the process. While she is shielded from evil incarnate by the purity of her spirit, the Devil still malevolently manages to take her hands. Stricken with anger, the girl wanders into a forest of wonderment where she is rescued by the Goddess of Water (Elina Löwensohn, famously of Hal Hartley’s films) and soon discovers a garden and castle owned by a dashing and charitable prince (Jérémie Elkaïm). In addition to the aforementioned Princess Kaguya (also distributed in the US by GKIDS), this dazzling and timeless tale of love and redemption will appeal to fans of John and Faith Hubley as well as devotees of MMoCA’s annual experimental film series, Rooftop Cinema. —Grant Phipps
Cults, Cullen Omori, Hideout. High Noon Saloon, 8 p.m.
Cults catapulted to indie stardom mere months into their existence on the strength of the 2010 single “Go Outside.” The Brooklyn duo released their eponymous debut album a year later, on which their swirling synths of dream pop mashed with 1960s-influenced pop proved to be a charming combination for both fans and critics. Madeline Follin and Brian Oblivion took a darker turn for their second album, 2013’s Static, incorporating the rockier glam and psychedelic sounds of the later 60’s. The two singles released from Static, “I Can Hardly Make You Mine” and “High Road,” became big hits on college radio stations around the country. As with their previous album, the shift in sound between Static and this year’s Offering is slight—the simmering synths on Offering making Cults sound more Beach House than ever, with cryptic lyrics continuing to focus on relationships and heartbreak. Offering was released in October in the wake of three singles: “Offering,” “I Took Your Picture,” and “Right Words,” the second of which takes the cake on this album. —Caleb Oakley