Madison calendar, October 5 through 11

Tanya Tagaq, GoldLink, Null Device, the films of Frederick Wiseman, and more events of note in Madison this week.

Tanya Tagaq, GoldLink, Null Device, the films of Frederick Wiseman, and more events of note in Madison this week. | By Emili Earhart, Scott Gordon, Mike Noto, Caleb Oakley, Grant Phipps, Chali Pittman, and David Wolinsky

Tanya Tagaq.


Tanya Tagaq.

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Thievery Corporation, City Of The Sun. Orpheum, 7:30 p.m.

Thievery Corporation, which is Rob Garza and Eric Hilton but also the collective of recording musicians around them, will play here behind their 2017 album, the sunny, dubby, ode-to-Jamaica The Temple Of I And I. Partially recorded in Port Antonio, the record finds the core duo delivering some jams, especially when featuring fierce vocals from Kingston musician Raquel Jones, whom Thievery discovered while recording there. Yet while all of Thievery Corporation’s albums have a spacey quality, they increasingly lack the variety necessary to hold a listener’s attention for very long (including Temple). And that’s a shame, because Garza and Hilton shine precisely in their ability to weave seamless, unpredictable transitions between disparate musical styles and traditions. They’ve had that knack from the beginning, when they were co-owners of DC nightclub the Eighteenth Street Lounge and decided to start a label there, too. So frankly, rather than leaning too heavily on Temple, I’m hoping to hear Garza and Hilton deliver a solid DJ set akin to their earlier albums and collaborations. Ideally, there’ll be elements of Latin and lounge, drum & bass and bossa nova, trip-hop and experimental pop, downtempo and—yes—dub. —Chali Pittman

Macbeth. Central Library, 6 p.m. (free)

Some of the discourse around Roman Polanski’s 1971 film adaptation of Macbeth has revolved around shaky parallels to the Charles Manson murders that may or may not be there. This relies too much on discussion of Polanski’s personal life (his wife Sharon Tate was one of Manson’s victims) and not enough on the movie itself. Polanski’s Macbeth, adapted with the famed British theatre critic Kenneth Tynan, is a fairly faithful, but deeply depressing, adaptation of Shakespeare’s play. Many of the deviations come in the tone and mood of the movie. The play isn’t exactly cheerful, but Polanski casts an unmistakably suffocating atmosphere of dismal pessimism over the whole film, thick as the fog on the moors. The film’s air of sustained loathing partially comes from its cinematography and scenery (the film was shot in the north of England during a sustained period of terrible weather, and feels bitterly wet and cold throughout), and from the Third Ear Band’s deliberately discordant soundtrack. But it mostly comes from the direction. Polanski focuses on the most nihilistic elements in the original story and expands them into an overpoweringly dour worldview. Jon Finch plays Macbeth as a sociopathically small-minded opportunist with the charisma of a wharf rat, and Francesca Annis’ Lady Macbeth seems to flit between the hollowest archetypes with every new situation—temptress, hellion, devoted wife, imperious royalty. Her rendition of the famous mad scene, done nude for supposed reasons of historical accuracy and possibly to feed audience prurience, feels empty, but also in line with the rest of the portrayal, since Annis’ characterization makes it clear that hunger for power doesn’t tend to fill out a personality. The film was, unsurprisingly, a bomb upon release (for some reason, overwhelming monotonous nastiness didn’t make for popcorn sales), and does pale somewhat in comparison to a few other adaptations, notably Kurosawa’s Throne Of Blood, which featured Isuzu Yamada’s astonishingly insectival malevolence as the Lady Macbeth analogue. But Polanski’s Macbeth has lived on as a good, unpleasant cult film, the type of movie scholarly Criterion essays are written for, and is worth watching at least once. —Mike Noto

Greg Proops. Comedy Club on State, through Oct. 8

You could hardly be blamed if your only point of reference for comedian Greg Proops was his 1990’s stint in the short-form improv TV show Whose Line Is It Anyway? In that show, Proops was always a standout in stark contrast to mainstays like the equally talented but goofy Ryan Stiles and seemingly squeaky-clean Wayne Brady—the San Francisco’s comic zig to the rest of that ensemble’s zag was his sneering wit and tendency to let satire bleed into his make-’em’-ups. These attributes have served Proops well and are in quick-draw full-force in his podcast, stand-up shows, and hybrid live Los Angeles-podcast and film club. Just as Stephen Colbert’s background in political comedy helped his Late Show unexpectedly—finally—overtake his competitors, Proops’ weekly podcast, winkingly titled The Smartest Man In The World, has proven itself over the last few years to be essential listening. Proops’ background in improv also proves incredibly valuable on the podcast, enabling him to eschew a discernible format and dive headlong into dissecting whatever’s happening in the news and whatever’s happening in his head. Proops was primed to take a suggestion and weave something wonderful—don’t try to find old Whose Line clips on YouTube to get caught up, give his podcast a spin. Live, Proops comes dressed to the hilt and channels a mix of Steve Martin at his most pompous and cerebral, with a tendency to make more cutting points. He visits here for a run of stand-up shows and a podcast recording. —David Wolinsky

Tony Malaby, Anthony Cox, JT Bates. North Street Cabaret, 8 p.m.

New York-based saxophonist Tony Malaby joins two Twin Cities musician, bassist Anthony Cox and drummer JT Bates, in a new trio that’s currently on its first tour and planning to do some recording later this year. So what this performance will sound like is a bit unknown, but they’ve promised a mix of original compositions from all three and some improvisation. Plus, each player has a wide range of experience to bring to the table. Cox’s collaborators have included Stan Getz, Elvin Jones, and Dave Douglas, and has released a few versatile, inquisitive albums as a bandleader, including 1992’s Dark Metals. Malaby is known for embracing a fluid range of saxophone styles, from conversational and melodic work to more experimental approaches influenced by the likes of Roscoe Mitchell. Bates’ work has been truly all over the map, collaborating with folk artists like The Pines and jazz heavies like pianist Craig Taborn, in addition to exploring electronics-infused weirdness of his 2015 solo album Open Relationships. Odds are these three versatile improvisers can create something pretty compelling at the intimate North Street Cabaret. —Scott Gordon

Twelves, War Brides, Tyranny Is Tyranny. Mickey’s Tavern, 10:30 p.m. (free)

Madison noise-rock band Twelves have unceremoniously posted their first record to Bandcamp as they prepare to head out on tour, and it lives up to the excitement they’ve created since they began playing live shows less than a year ago. The band has a solid, lumbering rhythm section in drummer Jeff Samuels and bassist Russell Hall, and two sonic wildcards in guitarist Jason Bank and vocalist Michael Groome. Bank plays fucked-up, tenacious melodies that wrap around the rhythms like rusty barbed wire, and Groome mixes up all manner of gulping, cackling, rasping vocalizations. The lyrics are some of the most delightfully confounding sequences of words you’ll find this side of a Longmont Potion Castle record—”Good play on a insect platter / Dear neighbor has terminal eye flutter,” begins one verse on “Big Bone Blinker.” They share the bill here with Chicago post-hardcore crushers War Brides and Madison post-rock outfit Tyranny Is Tyranny, who haven’t played a show in a good while and have new material to share. —Scott Gordon


Null Device, Justin Carver, DJ Ellafine. Connections, 9 p.m.

Madison band Null Device rarely strays in its devotion to heady, romantic electronic pop. But while sticking to that lane, they’ve explored a great deal of nuanced sonic character and done a lot of excellent songwriting. Somehow, it’s always the singing that really seems to pin it all together—Eric Oehler and Jill Sheridan sing their lead parts with unpretentious clarity. Their vocal performances aren’t by any means cold or emotionless, but they never try to compete too much with the band’s layered production, which over time has included everything from Indian percussion to Kendra Kreutz’s electric cello, and a dense array of beatmaking styles and synth patches that you’d only get from a group of serious electronic-music heads. The project’s been going in one form or another for more than 20 years, and their 2016 release While You Were Otherwise Engaged is among their best. Tracks like “Faraway,” “Maker,” and “3AM” have the emotional and lyrical heft to make their polished and intricate arrangements connect on a human level, but just soaking up the electro-pop grandiosity is satisfying too. Null Device’s plans this year include recording a new track for a cancer-benefit compilation, and Oehler recently started up a new project called Klack, with fellow Madison-based electronic artist Matt Fanale of Caustic. —Scott Gordon

InDIGenous: Johannes Wallmann: Love Wins. Memorial Union Play Circle, 7:30 p.m. (free)

Jazz pianist Johannes Wallmann has already released two albums over the past few years—Always Something, recorded with a big band, and The Town Musicians, recorded with a smaller group—while settling into his role as UW-Madison’s director of jazz studies and a busy collaborator on and off campus. In the midst of all that, Wallmann and his husband, Keith Borden, were among the plaintiffs in Wolf V. Walker, the ACLU-led lawsuit in which a federal court struck down Wisconsin’s same-sex marriage ban in 2014, a little under a year before the United States Supreme Court took marriage equality national. Wallmann’s forthcoming album Love Wins draws on that experience in an exuberant collaboration that celebrates the victory (“We (Will) Love”), grapples with the painful (and sometimes literal) fights for gay rights over the decades (“Stonewall Was A Riot”), and braces for the struggles to come in a political climate of reinvigorated bigotry (“Equality!” and “Go On”). The music, stuffed with contributions from a bunch of Wisconsin musicians, doesn’t fit easily alongside the heady conversations of The Town Musicians or the elegance of Always Something—it’s both more tense and more rollicking. Beloved Madison MC Rob Dz’s spoken-word performances throughout the album bolster its thematic backbone. On the album’s most memorable track, “The Seventh Circuit,” the musicians stir up a tempestuous groove around audio from the actual oral arguments in Wolf before the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals, with Dz’s voice occasionally cutting in to offer emotional rejoinders to the legal arcana. Wallmann will perform the album and other new material here with Borden (who is also a singer), Dz, trumpeter Russ Johnson, saxophonist Jonathan Greenstein, guitarist Andrew Trim, bassist John Christensen, drummer Devin Drobka, and vocalist Jan Wheaton. Wallmann points out that the show will be exactly one month before the three-year anniversary of marriage equality becoming effective in Wisconsin and four other states. Maybe he’ll also give a shout out to judge Richard Posner, a Reagan appointee who authored the Seventh Circuit’s majority opinion in Wolf and recently retired. —Scott Gordon

La Santa Cecilia. Capitol Theater, 7:30 p.m.

Over the past decade, East LA band La Santa Cecilia have developed a style that weaves together a variety of styles of Mexican folk music and threads in contemporary pop influences as well. The past few years have seen the band develop a bigger national following and put out several well-received album, all while continuing to revel in the complexity of their sound and craft achingly joyous songs around singer Marisol “La Marisoul” Hernandez’s bilingual vocals. The band’s 2017 album Amar Y Vivir was recorded live in sessions around Mexico City and largely consists of an intriguing selection of covers. “México Americano” is a boisterous rendition of a song written by late Chicano musician Rumel Fuentes, and tackles the music’s dual identity head-on, swerving between burly rockabilly guitar licks and trilling accordion phraes as Hernandez sings lines like this: “Dos países son mi tierra / Los defiendo con honor.” (“Two countries are my land / I defend them with honor.”) Of course, it’s not just the brew of influences that makes the band intriguing; they know how to switch up their arrangements and dynamics to create a very different mix from song to song, creating restrained and fetching grooves on “Mar Y Cielo” and slowly building up a lilting ballad on :”Leña De Pirul.” There’s a whole lot here that you can dance to, and a lot of nuanced performances for those who prefer to hang back and listen. —Scott Gordon

High School + Hospital. Vilas Hall, 7 p.m. (free)

Many moviegoers know Frederick Wiseman as the rigorous documentarian whose lengthy works of the past decade (like 2015’s critically acclaimed In Jackson Heights) have delved into cultural and social institutions. However, Wiseman’s pioneering cinéma vérité dates back some 50 years, as the Wisconsin Film Festival celebrated this year with the presentation of his 1967 directorial debut, Titicut Follies. UW Cinematheque follows that up this fall with a five-week partial retrospective on Wiseman’s film, beginning with a restored 35mm double-feature of early, condensed masterpieces (both under 90 minutes) that shed equal light on the struggles of the American working class, the innocuously titled High School (1968) at 7 p.m. and Hospital (1969) at 8:30. High School offers a window into Wiseman’s ultimate influence on American filmmaking, seen in works as wide-ranging as Todd Solondz’s narrative feature, Storytelling (2001), in which a comically misguided filmmaker attempts to make an authentic documentary on the high school experience, to Amanda Wilder’s more serious, didactic, and illuminating Approaching The Elephant (2014), which focuses on the Teddy McArdle Free School. High School doc looks at various dimensions of Northeast High School in suburban Philadelphia, framing the adolescent experience as more than the formality of public education and offering insight into its crisis of conformity and bullying not only between peers but in the tactics of the school’s administration. By subject matter alone, Hospital (1969) is more akin to Titicut Follies‘ exposure of the inner workings of Bridgewater Hospital for the Criminally Insane. However, at the general Metropolitan Hospital in East Harlem, the tone isn’t quite as extreme, even if Wiseman gravitates towards the strained and sometimes desperate scenarios of community members seeking affordable access to treatment. Anyone appreciative of the eye-opening drama in Peter Nicks’ The Waiting Room (2012)  will instantly recognize Hospital‘s foresight. —Grant Phipps



Tanya Tagaq. Wisconsin Union Theater, 8 p.m.

Canadian Inuk throat singer Tanya Tagaq is a singular voice in the avant-garde. Borrowing from her native Inuinnaqtun folk song, Western chamber music, and dark modern art rock, she has garnered international attention for Animism (2014), including the Polaris Music Prize. That album was decidedly more political in nature than her prior output, making an activist cry against humanity’s ignorant destruction of the Earth. Retribution, released last fall, continues to explore this deep-rooted indignation associated with the disconnection between the planet and man-made industry; however, it also confronts the plight of indigenous women of the Nunavut territory, who’ve been disproportionately affected by poverty, environmental havoc, and even murder. The album’s 10 adventurous but menacing tracks build with a mantric precision, often layering eerie, dissonant vocals, tremolo strings, timpani, and rhythmic electronics. While a large part of Retribution focuses on the timbres and elasticity of the human voice, the title track is unusually bold in its personifying lyrics. Tagaq emphatically speaks, without mincing words: “We squander [Mother Earth’s] soil and suck out her sweet black blood to burn it. We turn money into God…” The seeming centerpiece of the album, “Summoning,” takes an equally epic approach, commencing with mellifluous cooing amidst an amalgam of field-recorded sounds, including footsteps and bird caws. A choir of voices subtly rises with intermittent violin harmonics that mesh with Tagaq’s undulating overtones (inhalations/exhalations) in its sonic storm of a crescendo. Despite the various comparisons to Björk due to their past collaboration, Tagaq’s music is more similar in tonality to the drone-like solo works of Swans’ Jarboe and chaotic abstraction of Mr. Bungle’s Mike Patton. At this Union Theater performance, Tagaq will be supported by a wealth of local voices with backgrounds in choir and throat singing alike.  —Grant Phipps

Dan Savage. Barrymore, 8 p.m. (NOTE: This show has been postponed to March 24)

America’s favorite sex-positive advice columnist is back in town to address the questions you could never ask your parents about sex, relationships, and being “GGG.” Dan Savage began writing his “Savage Love” column for Seattle weekly The Stranger while working at Madison’s Four Star Video Heaven (a friend of his both started The Stranger and co-founded the once-local but still beloved satire publication The Onion), and he still gets back here once a twice a year, for live appearances and his his amateur porn festival screening tour, HUMP!   Savage is now based in Seattle and works as the editorial director of The Stranger. He’s also turned his column into a wildly successful podcast, often frequenting top 100 podcast charts.  Savage is also a renown LGBT activist, bringing to light queer issues through his podcast and festival.  He also co-founded the It Gets Better project, an online video series turned book aimed at preventing suicide among LGBT youth. Though most of his work focuses on sex and relationship advice, Savage, as with many an entertainer, has turned increasingly political under the current climate. He visits here for a live recording of the Savage Lovecast. —Caleb Oakley

Goldlink, Masego, EarthGang. Majestic, 9 p.m.

DC rapper GoldLink is on a bit of a sleeper’s upswing these days. His wonderful single “Crew,” featuring what may be one of the best hooks of the year from Brent Faiyaz and an exuberant guest verse from Shy Glizzy (the remix is even better, and features one of Gucci Mane’s most locked-in verses since his comeback) was just the kind of mid-level commercial success that helps right careers. GoldLink’s confident verse on the single is a good summary of how he could find himself appreciated and overlooked at the same time: His rapping is acrobatic, subtly charismatic and executed in flawless double-time, but his delivery is also low-key enough to seem a bit muted to people used to rappers with hugely outsized personalities. Add to that the sense that he was in danger of becoming an also-ran in the recent past, and the success of the single becomes even more gratifying. “Crew” comes from his musically ambitious new album At What Cost, released in March on RCA. Compared to the bleak, covertly despairing atmospherics of the best trap and the sometimes harshly electronic backing tracks that rappers like Lil Uzi Vert have turned into an aesthetic, At What Cost makes use of a softer, but still colorful, R&B-infused tonal palette. There’s a far more noticeable sense of melody in the production on songs like “Same Clothes As Yesterday” and “Roll Call” (the latter featuring an out-of-nowhere cameo from Mya), along with some brave genre experimentation—true to his DC roots, “Hands On Your Knees” sounds like a mid-concert go-go snippet that actually conveys what being in a go-go crowd must feel like. Rather than seeming unfinished, it shows why go-go has been such a DC mainstay for decades. This all contributes to the kind of major-label debut that seemed to die out sometime in the mid-’90’s, and the fact that GoldLink managed to make something on a major label that is so accessible, yet uncompromised and true to himself, is truly commendable. He appears here with the jazz-influenced trap rapper Masego. —Mike Noto

Duck Soup Cinema: The Freshman. Capitol Theater, 2 & 7 p.m.

If you’re in the mood for some high-spirited entertainment and you’re not wrapped up in the outcome of the Badgers v. Nebraska game, the Capitol Theater at Overture Center has the perfect alternative autumn game plan: a screening of Fred Newmeyer and Sam Taylor’s acclaimed silent slapstick comedy feature, The Freshman (1925), set to live music by organist Jelani Eddington. Starring a skinny, bespectacled, but nimble Harold Lloyd as Harold Lamb, the film follows the overzealous titular character as he enrolls at Tate University with an ill-advised attempt to make friends by emulating the mannerisms and ambition of his movie idol, The College Hero. This earns him the nickname “Speedy” amongst his peers and leads to him trying out for the football team. A sport as physical as football not only provides the backdrop for one of the silent era’s most crowd-pleasing comedies, but Lloyd and company also avoid the inclination to run a series of progressively unimaginative training gags like a blooper reel. Off the field, the charming narrative is strengthened by a romantic subplot that leads up to a Fall Frolic dance sequence involving the apple of Harold’s eye, Peggy (Jobyna Ralston). However, the writing throughout also carries an infectious underdog spirit that reveals the depths of individuality; in fact, the basic premise of the unassuming team hero who was once a principal subject of ridicule was overtly lifted for Adam Sandler’s far less subtle The Waterboy (1998). Lloyd’s performances may not ultimately have the unwavering sentimentality of Charlie Chaplin or the deadpan innovation of Buster Keaton, but his impression here as the resilient everyman is just as memorable. As is usual with Duck Soup Cinema, local vaudeville acts will precede the feature presentation at both shows.  —Grant Phipps

Carbon Bangle, JOBS, Cap Alan. Mickey’s Tavern, 10:30 p.m. (free)

This adventurous, all (semi)-local bill features three essentially genre-less acts, offering rhythmic complexities, kaleidoscopic textures, and abundant energy. JOBS, a math-rock outfit whose members are split between New York and Madison, play here behind their 2015 release Killer Bob Sings. On one highlight track from that album, “Threes,” percussionist Max Jaffe tromps forward in a deliberate, relentless waltz before severing the pulse and leading the ensemble in an upsurge of dissonance. Jaffe then brings back the pulse—now galvanized by electronics—but JOBS quickly splinters into an amorphous space. After sudden bursts of cohesion, the trio heaves forward into an angular groove punctuated by bursting guitar colors and unpredictable shifts into double time. The groove eventually collapses into a thick cacophony, the brightest colors puncturing the texture. At this show, JOBS will feature a fourth member, violist and bassist Jessica Pavone. Madison- and Milwaukee-based band Carbon Bangle play twisted psychedelic, dub-infused, math jams behind their 2017 EP Pariahprism. Madison duo Cap Alan propels krauted-out, circular drum grooves into a pool of processed permutations, yielding spasmodic glitches and dance malfunctions. —Emili Earhart


Zola Jesus, John Wiese. Majestic, 8 p.m.

Performing under the alias Zola Jesus, Nika Roza Danilova plays her own strain of electronic goth-pop. Her latest release, this year’s Okovi, marks a return to Sacred Bones Records and to her hometown of Merrill, Wisconsin. Danilova certainly hones in on ruralness in Okovi, evoking a feeling of emptiness and affliction and filling that space with a strong resolution and acceptance. Sonically, Zola Jesus centers most of the tracks on Okovi around pop elements, but often leaves the crux of the songs fittingly barren, all while braiding together elements of classical, noise, and industrial music. “Veka” drifts within an amorphous wash of metallic colors, reverberating voices, and processed Slavic words and phrases. With the support of an emerging pulse and melody, a song materializes from this wash, with Danilova asking “Who will find you / when all you are is dust?” Noise artist John Wiese performs here as well behind his September 2017 release, Escaped Language. Recorded live at the INA-GRM festival in Paris, Escaped Language is a 19 minute long electro-acoustic exploration that feels massive and singular, even among Wiese’s extensive discography. The piece begins with ethereal, cosmic ambience—as if to establish a plane, or canvas on which to boundlessly operate—before proceeding to process, affect, and mold an ever-growing ensemble of new sounds. But each sound—each individual voice—still maintains a sense of singularity. Wiese demonstrates relentlessly the ways in which these voices can at once sit prominently in the sonic forefront and escape from your consciousness into a new spot on that eternal plane. —Emili Earhart


Spotlight Cinema: Hermia And Helena. Madison Museum of Contemporary Art, 7 p.m.

In its second week, the stellar Spotlight Cinema series at MMoCA presents Hermia And Helena from playful Shakespeare revisionist Matías Piñeiro. The native Argentine director continues in the tradition of his prior pair of quietly theatrical romantic dramas this decade: Viola (2012), which riffs on Twelfth Night, and Princess Of France (2014), which surreally channels Love’s Labour’s Lost into a radio play. Each ongoing “Shakespearead” (as the director has dubbed them) boasts an overflowing adoration of the blurring of art and life. Through Piñeiro’s vibrant, predominantly female troupes, these films explore the fluidity of human identity, literally setting into motion the process of rehearsal as a soft form of time-travel. In essence, these films exist as breezy fantasy, yet they also contain elements of academic documentary on account of both their crew and performers (as Piñeiro is a film professor). The tension between these two elements lends a profound and psychological air to the unfurling drama. In Hermia And Helena, the bright Piñeiro regular Agustina Muñoz stars as Camila, a sort of surrogate for the director himself, a Buenos Aires student on her way to New York on an arts fellowship to fashion a new Spanish translation of A Midsummer Night’s Dream. While staying in her friend and former fellowship recipient Carmen (María Villar)’s apartment, Camila begins to receive postcards from a mysterious woman and inherit Carmen’s internal and external affairs. Piñeiro uses achronolgical structure to highlight his metaphysical curiosities and meditations on ephemerality and permanence. Fans of the approach here will also appreciate the final film on the Spotlight calendar (Nov 29), Hong Sang-soo’s On The Beach At Night Alone. —Grant Phipps

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