Marielle V Jakobsons, Trophy Dad, Heru, and other events of note in Madison this week. | By Scott Gordon, Emili Earhart, Joel Shanahan, Chris Lay
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THURSDAY SEPTEMBER 1
The Game. Central Library, 6:30 p.m. (free)
Lots of folks forget about The Game, the twisty little thriller that David Fincher put out in 1997 between Se7en and Fight Club. It’s arguably his most underrated movie. Michael Douglas plays an existentially rudderless banker whose brother gets him a mysterious present that ends up sucking him deeper and deeper into a weird web of characters who cross and double cross each other, driving Douglas’ character to the brink of insanity. At two hours and nine minutes it’s long as hell but moves along at a decent pace, and Fincher’s masterful production design is wonderfully subdued compared to the two films that bookend it in his filmography. —Chris Lay
Bryan Morris, Toler Wolfe, Gena Gephart. Comedy Club on State, through September 3, see link for all showtimes.
Fans of Madison comedy will recognize this as a homecoming for some local folks who done good. All three comics, Bryan Morris, Toler Wolfe, and Gena Gephart, got their start in Madison before moving off to bigger stages, with Morris heading to New York and Wolfe and Gephart leaving for Chicago. All three were pretty big fish in Madison before heading off to more expansive ponds, so it will be nice for anyone who’s followed the local scene for a while to get to see how they’ve all grown as performers. —CL
We Should Have Been DJs, La Historia, Automatically Yours. Mickey’s Tavern, 10 p.m. (free)
Madison trio We Should Have Been DJs make charmingly frantic punk. On the 2015 album Break All The Lights and a new split tape with Denver band Guts, We Should Have Been DJs manage to cram in lots of melodic bass lines and quick, flickering guitar phrases even while screaming and flailing through their songs with a certain earnest abandon. They share the bill here with the more modestly paced and reflective La Historia, from Rockford, and gentle guitar-pop outfit Automatically Yours, from Madison. —Scott Gordon
FRIDAY SEPTEMBER 2
Strollin’ Middleton. Downtown Middleton, 5 p.m. (free)
This summer, the Strollin’ jazz series has experimented with moving its model—a night of free jazz performances by Wisconsin artists, sprinkled throughout a neighborhood—to the suburbs. Middleton actually has somewhat of a walkable little “downtown,” so it should translate well enough as the night unfolds at venues including the Middleton Public Library, The Free House Pub, and Capital Brewery. The folks organizing the series always aim for stylistic diversity, and this time a couple things stand out. Tom Ryan—better known as Madison’s blaze orange-wearing piccolo man—will lead a nine-piece band in what’s sure to be an interesting rendition of Miles Davis’ Birth Of The Cool (Middleton Public Library 8 p.m.). To close the night, bassist John Christensen will lead his Atlas Project (Free House Pub, 10:30 p.m.), with Johannes Wallmann on piano, Devin Drobka on drums, and Andrew Trimm on guitar. Christensen says the set will focus on his original material, some old and some that he’s just written, themed around landscapes—song titles include “Prairie Grass” and “Slate Icicles On Trees.” —SG
De Palma + Carrie. Vilas Hall, 7 p.m. (free)
Brian De Palma came of age professionally alongside fellow “Movie Brats” Spielberg, Coppola, Scorsese, and George Lucas, but of that bunch he seems to be the least appreciated, which is a damn shame. Noah Baumbach and Jake Paltrow’s affectionate new documentary De Palma, more or less the centerpiece of UW Cinematheque’s fall retrospective on the filmmaker, looks to reestablish the directors legacy. In keeping with their generous helping of Friday double features, stick around after the documentary and you’ll get to watch De Palma’s iconic adaptation of Stephen King’s Carrie in glorious 35mm. —CL
Heru, Lucien Parker, 3rd Dimension, Provo, DJ KennyHoopla. Frequency, 9 p.m.
Heru, a young rapper and producer from Oakland who currently attends UW-Madison’s First Wave Program, plays here to celebrate the release of his first EP, TheSoulOf. He experiments with a range of songwriting styles, flows, and production approaches here, from the melodic raps and subdued minor-chord progressions of “BreakItDown” and “HeartOfSoul” to the tough rumble and Dr. Dre-esque high-pitched synth of “OwnShit.” Heru strikes the strongest balance, though, on “Writen,” laying a confident, prickly flow over a pleasantly trippy beat. —SG
Marielle V Jakobsons, Chuck Johnson. Arts + Literature Laboratory, 8 p.m. (Co-presented by Tone Madison)
Oakland-based solo guitarist Chuck Johnson’s playing is deeply rooted in the Piedmont blues traditions of North Carolina. But Johnson combines his traditional fingerpicking techniques with a cosmic minimalism, blending varied guitar timbres, repetitive and ever-so-slightly permutated phrases, and a strong sense of ebb and flow through a loose, flexible regard for time. Often performing with a twelve-string, Johnson is adept at filling a room. He plays here behind the February release Velvet Arc. Sharing the bill is Marielle V Jakobsons, a conservatory-trained multi-instrumentalist, professional orchestral performer, awarded (and awarded again and again) composer, and a sound experimenter in every sense of the word. Jakobsons also invents and builds her own instruments in order to explore sound both musically and visually. Her most recent creation is the Macro-Cymatic Visual Music Instrument, which creates a visual disruption of sound in fluids. Her new Thrilly Jockey album, Star Core, combines synths, strings, woodwinds, and vocals into mind-bending, but magnificently beautiful compositions. —Emili Earhart
Darryl “DMC” McDaniels. Central Library, 7 p.m. (free)
By any measure, Darryl McDaniels has caught some rough breaks since his glory days as the “DMC” part of seminal hip-hop trio Run-D.M.C. The group officially came to an end when groundbreaking DJ Jam Master Jay was murdered in a Queens recording studio. And even before that, McDaniels had struggled with alcoholism, depression, and growing tension within Run-D.M.C.—plus the bombshell of discovering in his 30s that he’d been adopted. His new memoir, Ten Ways Not To Commit Suicide (written with journalist Darrell Dawsey) delves into his Run-D.M.C.-era struggles with mental illness and near-fatal alcoholism. He’s using the book and his book tour to draw attention to the impact of mental illness and suicide in the black community. —SG
SATURDAY SEPTEMBER 3
Belladonna Of Sadness. Vilas Hall, 7 p.m. (free)
Imagine that the cartoon section of Pink Floyd’s The Wall hooked up with Grimm’s gorier fairy tales after a midnight screening of Akira, and you start to get close to how wonderfully gorgeous and fucked-up Belladonna Of Sadness is. Directed by Eiichi Yamamoto, the 1973 film languished in relative obscurity for 40 years before it was recently rescued and lovingly restored by Cinelicious Pics. Having seen the Blu-ray not long ago, I can tell you right now that this movie looks fantastic, but if multiple sequences of psychedelic sexual assault aren’t your cup of tea then you might wanna sit this one out. —CL
Dolores, Seasaw, Neens, Trophy Dad. High Noon Saloon, 9 p.m.
Madison band Trophy Dad recently took a nice step with “Addison,” a one-off track that builds on the frizzy, exuberant guitar-pop of their 2015 debut EP, Shirtless Algebra Fridays. But the song also slows down and finds more space in the band’s songwriting for sadness and reflection, while still working in a few jabs of solid power-pop distortion. The band plans to work on new recordings this year. They play here to open up for a reunion show from Dolores, a Madison psych-pop band that had a brief but popular run before calling it quits last summer. —SG
SUNDAY SEPTEMBER 4
Gringo Star, Gloss Coats, Animal City. Frequency, 8 p.m.
Atlanta’s Gringo Star fit in well enough with the current generation of gritty garage-pop revivalists, but tend to play it a bit more warm and sweet. There’s not a whole lot of aggression to be found on their latest album, The Sides And In Between, but things tend to get a little feistier live. And in any case, Gringo Star can still strike a good balance of dirt and pop, as it shows on Sides tracks like “Rotten” and “Knee Deep.” —SG
The Heiress. Chazen Museum of Art, 2 p.m. (free)
TUESDAY SEPTEMBER 6
Troller, Mr. Jackson, Samantha Glass, Ossuary, Sasha McKenney, DJ Lauden Nute. High Noon Saloon, 8 p.m. (co-presented by Tone Madison)
One of the better aspects of Austin, Texas’ current electronic scene is that a lot of its participants tend to pass up the nostalgic elements of the instrumentation in favor of something deeper and more contemporary. On this year’s Graphic, trudging synth-pop outfit Troller proves that it’s no exception. The title track sets the dirgey, down-tempo pace for the album, as a plodding industrial rhythm marches below a bleakly surreal synth arrangement that drones onward. “Torch” is paced between a crawl and a menacing swagger, as the ominously angelic vocals of Amber Goers glide acrobatically over a backdrop of growling bass and sun-flared synth melodies. The album sporadically wanders deep into the cosmos with a series of moody instrumental vignettes that run the gamut between the pop-cinematic vibe of “Drug Dog” and the black-metal chord voicings of “Dryld,” which finds the listener waiting for blast-beats and vocal screeches that never actually arrive and didn’t need to in the first place. —Joel Shanahan
Andrew Bird, Gabriel Kahane. Capitol Theater, 7:30 p.m.
While so many of key players in the folk-pop explosion of the early 2000s have slowly fallen out of relevancy, Chicago-based songwriter, fiddler, and prodigal whistler Andrew Bird has managed to stay afloat. With this year’s Are You Serious, his thirteenth album in 20 years, Bird still waves the flag for his signature brand of precious folk-pop and Muppet-ly crooning, but shows that subtlety and taste can go a long way for staying power. Tunes like “Roma Fade” and “Saints Preservus” are built on the sort of plucky violin hooks and whistled earworms Bird has fallen back on so often throughout his discography, but he manages to keep it fresh by surrounding himself with dynamic players like drummer Ted Poor, whose thoughtfully spacious grooves add new dimensions to smooth cruiser “Truth Lies Low” and the tempered fuzz of “Capsized.” Even when Bird throws us a breezy duet with Fiona Apple in “Left Handed Kisses,” where the preciousness is almost cringe-inducing, all of the unexpected twists and turns, rich vocal harmonies, and soaring violin melodies rescue it from total innocuity. Sure, Are You Serious sometimes sounds like something you’d buy at Whole Foods with some fancy deodorant, but it’s tough to throw much shade at something so refined. —JS
WEDNESDAY SEPTEMBER 7
Animal Lover, Coordinated Suicides, Tyranny Is Tyranny. Mickey’s Tavern, 10 p.m. (free)
On their new album Stay Alive, Minneapolis band Animal Lover use the familiar elements of noise-rock and post-punk in fragmented, dissociative, and strangely playful experiments. They embody both crudeness and cleverness here, as exemplified by the staggering rhythms and slashing, dissonant guitar chords of “Life On Earth” and “U-Land.” And just as often, the chopped-up disorientation of it all is pretty fun too, especially on “Jerk The Technician” and album-closer “Waterparks Of America.” Animal Lover might be playing head games with everyone who knows the reference points (from Fugazi to Wire to The Jesus Lizard), or they might be genuinely striving to make a genuinely rewardingly weird art-punk album, or, why not, attempting both and nailing both. —SG