The Wisconsin Book Festival, Pino Forastiere, Teenage Fanclub, and more events of note in Madison this week. | By Chris Lay, Emili Earhart, Scott Gordon, Joel Shanahan, Grant Phipps, Mike Noto
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THURSDAY OCTOBER 20
Sean Patton. Comedy Club on State, through Oct. 22, see link for all showtimes.
There’s a distinctively maniacal rawness to Sean Patton’s comedy that keeps me coming back year after year. Not every joke is cranked up to 11, but there are certainly a few of his bits that happily ride the squiggly line between serious “storyteller” and silly “comedian.” Check out this recent, ultimately NSFW, clip of him on Comedy Central’s This Is Not Happening for a taste of the levels of stagecraft and narrative that Patton is able to casually pull from his bag of tricks—crowdwork, act outs, wacky voices, and wild asides chased to their conclusion before hopping right back into the original narrative stream. His act might feel like it’s riding a knife edge of coherence at times or threaten to totally go off the rails, but have faith and he’ll get ya there in the end. Earl Elliot features and Dan Bacula hosts. —Chris Lay
Turkeyfest. Multiple venues, through Oct. 22, see link for full schedule.
The annual garage-punk gathering Turkeyfest, booked by Madison musician Bobby Hussy, has settled into a groove of surprises and usual suspects over the past seven years. It’s also embraced more sonic outliers: This year’s first night, which finds Turkeyfest expanding to The Frequency, features menacing classic-country ghouls Those Poor Bastards, moody electronic wanderer Samantha Glass, and the psych-brushed pop of long-running Madison/Wautoma band Squarewave, who have a new album coming and recently brought on Alivia Kleinfeldt and Brendan Manley of Dash Hounds as members. The fest moves over to its usual venues, Mickey’s (Friday) and the Crystal Corner Bar (Saturday), to tap back into its customary vein of local and touring punk and power-pop. Friday has a burly and reverb-smacked edge to it, thanks to highlights like the noisy scrawl of Minneapolis’ France Camp and the tough, charging punk of Madison’s The Minotaurs. Saturday finishes things on a fun and giddy note, with a headlining set from pop-charged standby Nobunny, the sugary glam-punk of New Orleans’ Trampoline Team, and Madison country-punk-psych blasters Wood Chickens. Each night features one of Hussy’s own projects: Cave Curse, Fire Retarded, and The Hussy, respectively. —Scott Gordon
Wisconsin Book Festival. Multiple venues, through Oct. 23, see link for full schedule.
The annual Wisconsin Book Festival’s schedule is always unwieldy and just by nature full of a lot of niches and tangents, so let’s just point out a few highlights to keep in mind as you give the lineup a well-considered browse. Comedian Phoebe Robinson, who teams up with Jessica Williams on the wonderful WNYC podcast 2 Dope Queens, shares her new essay collection You Can’t Touch My Hair (Thursday, Central Library). Cartoonist Box Brown shares Tetris: The Games People Play, his graphic novel-format look at the creation of Tetris and its long-term impact on the videogames world (Friday, Wisconsin Institutes for Discovery). Journalist and technology observer Nicholas Carr reads from his new essay collection Utopia Is Creepy, which examines the delusional and dark tendencies of Silicon Valley (Saturday, Central Library). Alexander Weinstein reads from his tech-dystopia-leaning book of short stories, Children Of The New World (Saturday, WID). And Vietnamese-American author Viet Thanh Nguyen discusses his two most recent books, the novel The Sympathizer and his nonfiction reflection on the Vietnam War, Nothing Ever Dies (Saturday, Central Library). The book fest also has joint events with two other big fest-y things happening this week, Passing The Mic and the Wisconsin Science Festival. —SG
Passing The Mic 2016. Multiple venues, through Oct. 22, see link for full schedule.
For this year’s 12th annual Passing The Mic festival, UW-Madison’s Office Of Multicultural Initiatives and First Wave scholarship program will link up with the Wisconsin Book Festival to focus on “Hip-Hop Education In The Classroom, Community, And Beyond.” In addition to performances from past and present First Wave artists, this year’s mighty installment features an eclectically curated swath of performance artists, writers, and musicians who will be presenting at a few different venues over three days. On the musical end, Brooklyn-based freestyle legend, writer, emcee, and speaker Toni Blackman will be joined by Senegalese rapper Xuman on October 21 at Promenade Hall in Overture Center. October 22 is rich with Book Fest tie-ins events, including a release for We Gon’ Be Alright: Notes On Race And Resegregation with author Jeff Chang at Madison Central Library and appearances from author of Breakbeat Pedagogy and hip-hop education proponent Brian Mooney and For White Folks Who Teach In The Hood…And The Rest Of Y’all Too: Reality Pedagogy And Urban Education writer Chris Edmin at A Room Of One’s Own. Later that night, the festival shifts back over to the Overture Center for an event called Hue-Man, which boasts performances from OMAI creative director and performance artist Rain WIlson and slam poet and former First Wave student Myriha Burton. For exact times, locations, and the full event schedule, be sure to look here. —Joel Shanahan
FRIDAY OCTOBER 21
Pino Forastiere. Arts + Literature Laboratory, 8 p.m.
By combining dexterous fingerpicking, percussive and rhythmic articulations, and boundless extended techniques, Italian guitarist Pino Forastiere explores the ins and outs of his instrument, cultivating an assortment of styles that seem to transcend the possibilities of the acoustic guitar. Forastiere allows himself full control over not only the strings and fretboard, but the body and neck of the instrument, uncovering new colors, almost synthesizing a small orchestra into one phenomenon. But Forastiere does not lean on the reimagined, one-of-a-kind nature of his playing style. Instead, his virtuosity, precision, and control become the center of attention. —Emili Earhart
Movie Hell. The Fountain, 8 p.m.
There are a number of bad horror flicks that you could skewer with a live RiffTrax style comedy commentary, and Madison’s local crew of cinema interrupters have decided to celebrate the month of All Hallows’ Eve with 1988’s Night Of The Demons. What could go wrong when a bunch of high school seniors decide to conduct a seance in a secluded mortuary that happens to have a demon stashed in their crematorium? Local comics Anthony Siraguse, Cynthia Marie, and Eric Olander will be joined by special guest “Guy Fieri” to poke at the flimsy plot of this seasonally appropriate feature film. —CL
Helado Negro, DJ Boyfrrriend, Sola. Frequency, 6 p.m.
It was last year that Brooklyn-based multi-instrumentalist, composer, and sonic journeyman Roberto Lange dropped “Young, Latin, And Proud,” a powerful, dub-inspired single under his Helado Negro moniker. The single—loaded with the Ecuadorian-American artist’s quivering vocals, political lyrics, and warmly synth-infused production—has proven to be a proper precursor to freshly-released and aptly-titled full-length Private Energy, which ventures even deeper into Lange’s increasingly singular sonic landscape. “My skin glows in the dark / Shines in the light / It’s the color that holds me tight,” croons Lange on the beautiful crawl of “It’s My Brown Skin,” as textured, up-stroked chords and catchy synth flourishes color in the backdrop. We’re stoked to watch Lange sing while lording over a pile of electronics, as his backing dancers—generally covered in the same silver, pom-pom-looking material as the subject of Private Energy’s cover art—sway behind him. —JS
Hackers. Union South Marquee, 11 p.m.
It’s not the future we got, nor the future we deserved… hell, it was hardly the future most of us had any desire for when the film originally came out. Yes, we’re talking about Hackers. In 1995, Iain Softley’s film was somehow able to foresee some insanely high tech virtual reality games, but still envisioned tech nerds shackled to dial-up internet connections. At the time, the film was most notable for introducing the world to Angelina Jolie, but the film has stood the test of time as a goofy time capsule of 1990s cyberpunk optimism. Currently enrolled coeds will giggle that things were ever so clunky, while old timers like myself will fondly recall the first time they logged in to Boing Boing dot com or flipped through the pages of a Wired magazine. That Robert Longo’s Keanu Reeves gem, Johnny Mnemonic, (an exellent double feature opportunty here) is also from 1995, makes that year of our lord and savior Trent Reznor the indisputable high water mark of hardwired cinema. —CL
Tone Madison Presents: Cinemechanica, No Hoax, And Illusions. Williamson Magnetic Recording Company, 8 p.m.
Boasting members of still-active video game cover band Bit Brigade, Athens, Georgia band Cinemechanica boasted the most cleverly conversational guitar harmonies, the most beautifully slanted vision and one of the tightest rhythm sections in the math-rock revival of the aughts. It’s been 10 years since the release of 2006’s criminally underrated The Martial Arts and the band is back with a battering, self-titled new album. This time around, Cinemechanica blends the dizzying rhythms and brain-bending guitar shrapnel of their old work, but strips away a bit of the no-wave vocal sass and replaces it with something grittier and more Lemmy-esque. The album’s polished, pummelling production sounds massive and tends to bring out a more punishing metal vibe in tunes like in sinister math-punk crusher “Mike White’s ‘Spies’” and the explosive “I Ain’t Gettin’ Shot In Louisville.” Also, as we mentioned before, this is their first album in 10 years and it’s anyone’s guess when they’ll drop another one. Be sure to arrive early for Madisonian punk destroyers No Hoax and experimental duo And Illusions. —JS
SATURDAY OCTOBER 22
Lionel Loueke, Eric Harland, Dave Holland, Chris Potter. Wisconsin Union Theater, 8 p.m.
The 2015 album Aziza debuts a quartet of jazz heavies: bassist Dave Holland, guitarist Lionel Loueke, drummer Eric Harland, and saxophonist Chris Potter, who will play together here. Each one has made a pretty solid contribution to contemporary jazz, but let me focus on a couple in particular. Holland played with Miles Davis for a couple of years, just long enough to contribute to albums including In A Silent Way, which is one of my favorite records ever. Lionel Loueke works in a fluid, inventive vein that combines the pop and folk music of his native Benin (in West Africa) with a deep grasp of jazz. On the album and live recordings, this collaboration seems less concerned with composition than with giving everyone plenty of room to stretch out, and that’s not necessarily a bad thing—the group works its way through bits of oddball fusion-funk, in between more expansive and flowing passages. —SG
Joan Baez. Capitol Theater, 8 p.m.
There aren’t too many artists who could push through a nearly 60-year career with as much of their integrity intact as folk legend and activist Joan Baez has. With a sprawling discography loaded with both gorgeous covers—ranging from Pete Seeger to The Beatles to Stevie Wonder—and her own timeless tunes like the hauntingly beautiful “Diamonds & Rust” and delicately waltzing “Love Song To A Stranger,” Baez’ drifting and soulful vibrato has always felt pure, mighty, and devoid of affectation. Baez is currently touring behind 75th Birthday Celebration, a live double-album that’s loaded with collaborations with Damien Rice (on traditional folk tune “She Moved Through The Fair”), Emmylou Harris (on the Stephen Foster-penned “Hard Times Come Again No More”), David Crosby (on The Beatles’ “Blackbird”), and more. —JS
SUNDAY OCTOBER 23
Cass McCombs, Delicate Steve. Frequency, 8 p.m.
On this year’s Mangy Love, breezy and elusive troubadour Cass McCombs dropped another cozy batch of sun-bleached, folk-tinged highway cuts that resemble something you’d put on to shake off a panic attack. Per usual, McCombs is still able to explore a plethora of smooth, sonic landscapes here. “Run Sister Run” blends angular rhythms with dubby basslines and stabby chords, as McCombs urgently croons the tune’s titular line through a winding melody. But then the moody crawl of “It” is backed by a trudging 808 rhythm that’s colored in with a lush, twisting chord progression and spacious bass guitar. Album opener “Bum Bum Bum” is McCombs at his most reliable. The tune’s jangled, earworm guitar line sounds like a repurposing of the verse from The Police’s “Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic” and the smooth bassline and rhythmic groove is filled out tasteful auxiliary percussion. —JS
Teenage Fanclub, Sam Evian. High Noon Saloon, 8 p.m.
Primarily known for 1992’s album Bandwagonesque and songs like the uncanny “Everything Flows,” Scottish band Teenage Fanclub have produced frequently sterling power pop for decades. There has never been much variation in their sound, which often crosses classic jangle-pop construction and close three-part vocal harmony with pleasantly thick and crunching guitar distortion. On the other hand, there doesn’t really need to be when your specialty boils down to writing as many gorgeously catchy hooks as possible. This isn’t anywhere near as easy as it might sound, either. Power pop is one of the most unforgiving rock subgenres to operate in—since the point above all is writing well-turned melodies that immediately stick with the listener, any slide in the quality of melody is often immediately noticeable—and it’s a testament to the underlying strength of the band’s craft that they’ve kept it going for so long without really ever having a failed album in their catalog. Their new album Here does exactly what they’ve always done, but more effectively and affectionately than usual, and songs like the sweet, ringing lead single “I’m In Love” immediately feel as warm and comfortable as a pair of favorite slippers without sacrificing substance. Stylistic progression is a deeply worthwhile pursuit for most groups, but it’s often forgotten that there is sometimes just as much to be said for a band doing one thing spectacularly well. And Teenage Fanclub are a very good argument for that. —Mike Noto
Steve-O. Barrymore, 7:30 p.m.
Are you dying to find out if Jackass stuntman and comedian Steve-O will staple his balls to his leg, drink urine, and shoot fireworks out of his dickhole for you? Would you rather he staple his balls to your own forehead than listen to him do stand-up? These are the hot questions you should ask yourself before ponying up $28.50 (including “convenience fee”) to see this shit. —JS
MONDAY OCTOBER 24
Code: Debugging The Gender Gap. Central Library, 6:30 p.m. (free)
Robin Hauser Reynolds’ 2015 documentary Code: Debugging The Gender Gap examines why the tech industry remains so overwhelmingly dominated by white males. Women mathematicians and engineers are essential to the history of computing, and but women hold only about 20 percent of today’s tech jobs. People of color are even more underrepresented in the field. Reynolds looks at the systemic issues behind this imbalance—from institutional racism and sexism to the pervasive “bro culture” of Silicon Valley—and argues that a more diverse tech industry equals a better world for all. At this event, there will be a post-screening Q&A presented by the Madison Women in Tech group, Wisconsin Public Television, and the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction. —SG
WEDNESDAY OCTOBER 26
David Barach. Williamson Magnetic Recording Company, 8 p.m.
It is heartening to see solo classical piano venturing beyond the concert hall and into a space like Williamson Magnetic—a recording studio/occasional venue that more often hosts punk and power-pop bands. While the concert hall setting is often ideal acoustically (though let it be known I have zero complaints when it comes to the sound at WillyMag), it can also be an uninviting environment. Fortunately (and admirably), Madison-based pianist David Barach is covering his ground and taking his talents to both Capital Lakes (where he played last Saturday) and WillyMag—something uncommon with musicians performing a standard classical repertoire. This repertoire features Beethoven’s Pastorale Sonata (Op. 28), American 20th century composer William Bolcom’s playful “Graceful Ghost Rag” (1970), Samuel Barber’s sultry “Hesitation Tango”, and two works by Frederic Chopin. The pairing of the Chopin numbers, featuring his “Raindrop” Prelude in D flat major (Op. 28 No. 15) and his Scherzo in c sharp minor (Op. 39, No. 3), is particularly interesting. The juxtaposition of the charming, appropriately nicknamed “Raindrop” prelude and the virtuosic, brilliant nature of this Scherzo, will make quite an ending and I’m sure will have a striking effect in a venue like this. —EE
Short Films Of Casey T. Malone. Central Library, 6:30 p.m. (free)
Our friends at Madison film website LakeFrontRow have been presenting a series of free screenings that highlights the work of lesser-known filmmakers working in Wisconsin. This screening gathers five short works from Milwaukee filmmaker Casey T. Malone, under the subtitle “Oddities And Prodigies.” These shorts plunge into small but hyper-vivid worlds, from the glitchy dreamscape of Modern Age Amour to the bizzaro-silent journeys of a goggles-clad skull in Stan The Man & The Halls Of Madness. The program also includes the short documentary, Dead Man’s Carnival: A Conversation With Pinkerton Xyloma, and its subject, Milwaukee-based neo-vaudeville performer Xyloma, will be on hand at the screening as well. —SG
Spotlight Cinema: Little Sister. Madison Museum of Contemporary Art, 7 p.m.
It may be strange to think of writer-director Zach Clark’s latest, Little Sister, as a period film—it’s set in Asheville, North Carolina, during the relative innocence of Barack Obama’s 2008 presidential campaign. But its reserved feelings of hope in the autumn air feel a world away from the ceaseless scandals of 2016’s electoral circus. Perhaps it’s this inherent wistfulness that makes the film’s thematic backdrop of Halloween mischief work so well. (Clark might also have a thing for holiday isolation—his last directorial outing, White Reindeer, was set during the Christmas season.) In Little Sister a novice nun Colleen (Addison Timlin) is forced to confront her old demons after news of her brother Jacob (Keith Poulson)’s tragic disfigurement and military discharge from Iraq. Rebelling against the resulting crescendo of familial dysfunction, including the hypersensitive sneer of her mother Joani (Ally Sheedy), Colleen slips into her teenage gothic persona, complete with white makeup, black lipstick, spiked choker, and neon pink hair. In the course of it all, Colleen also embodies a clash between Christianity and Agnosticism. While the coming-of-age premise here may borrow liberally from the likes of Ang Lee’s Ice Storm, Garden State, and Todd Solondz’s early work, Little Sister finds a tone that sincerely and acerbically grapples with the meaning of home. —Grant Phipps
Mac Miller. Orpheum, 7 p.m.
Mac Miller is a nice example of how to learn on the job. His 2011 debut Blue Slide Park was the first independent hip-hop album to top the charts since the mid-1990s, but legions of fans and critics alike mercilessly (and justly) savaged Miller online and in print as a corny frat-rap cipher with the style and substance of an empty ball cap. The derision must have landed hard on him, because Miller made a concerted effort to mature. He started to release mixtapes that focused on an expansively druggy sound (2012’s prosaically titled Macadelic), and more importantly became a devotee of the studio, building one in his California home, where he focused on a developing talent for production under the alias Larry Fisherman. He then began to release albums that shifted through different moods as he found himself stylistically: the lush, downtempo stoner-ready production of Watching Movies With The Sound Off transitioned into the thumping, sample-based diversity of GO:OD AM. His technical ability as a rapper has improved massively over the years as well, though the corn still remains. However, Miller is smart and secure enough to embrace it instead of hiding from it, and his latest release The Divine Feminine, which experiments with sunny, jazzy West Coast funk, makes it into a virtue. An album about love practically begs for healthy doses of nicely rendered corn, and Miller has never sounded more confident about owning it. —Mike Noto