Rajab Suleiman And Kithara, House Of Lud, Gold Panda, and more events of note in Madison this week. | By Scott Gordon, Chris Lay, Joel Shanahan, Emili Earhart, Mike Noto
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THURSDAY SEPTEMBER 15
Jenny Zigrino. Comedy Club on State, through September 15, see link for all showtimes.
Jenny Zigrino’s 20-something-centric comedy might edge into some of the more explicit sexual frankness that would scare off your grandma, but thankfully you are not your grandma and will very likely appreciate the progressive sex- and body-positivity nestled into so many of her bits. Anyone who connects to Abbi Jacobson and Ilana Glazer’s Broad City should make it a point to catch one of Zigrino’s sets this weekend, as she’s definitely a kindred spirit. Jon Stringer features and Mike Mercury hosts. —Chris Lay
Madison World Music Festival. Multiple venues, through September 17, see link for all showtimes. (free)
This year’s Madison World Music Festival technically kicked off Tuesday with a special sand mandala ceremony, but things really start to pick up Thursday and Friday. Thursday includes a screening of the 2015 documentary Life Is Waiting: Referendum And Resistance In Western Sahara, which examines the struggle for independence in that country, a former Spanish colony currently occupied by the government of Morocco. Friday night features performances on the Terrace, beginning with the Zanzibar group Rajab Suleiman And Kithara. Suleiman plays an elaborate zither called the qanun, and the ensemble draws on the traditions of taarab music, which combines influences from the Arab world, the west, and Indonesia. The result is perhaps some of the richest music on offer in this year’s lineup, combining stately vocals and rhythmically complex arrangements of zither, oud, accordion, and hand percussion. Saturday the festival has a stage at the Willy Street Fair, then heads to the Union Theater for a night of dance and music from the monks of The Mystical Arts Of Tibet. —Scott Gordon
DRI, Deathwish, The Crosses, No Hoax. High Noon Saloon, 8 p.m.
Houston punk legends DRI (short for Dirty Rotten Imbeciles) were one of the main innovators of crossover, even coining the term with the title of their third album in 1987. Crossover fused the aggressive, guitar-led blur of hardcore punk with the technical dexterity and intense rhythmic drive of thrash metal, creating a distinct musical hybrid. In addition to naming and heavily influencing the subgenre, DRI were also responsible for a few well-loved records of more straight-ahead hardcore; their relentlessly hyper-speed 1983 debut Dirty Rotten LP and 1985’s highly rated, more transitional Dealing With It! are often cited as punk classics. The band recently broke a 20-year hiatus from recording in June, with a brief 7-inch of mostly new and characteristically fast-paced songs cheekily titled But Wait… There’s More! There are two re-recorded songs from Dealing With It! on the EP, and the new material takes most of its stylistic pointers from that period of the band’s history; opener “Against Me” is particularly up to the quality and consistency the band has always displayed. Vocalist Kurt Brecht’s charming shout is as charismatic as it ever was, and guitarist Spike Cassidy’s capacity for deeply enjoyable new twists on what should be standard-issue hardcore riffs seems undiminished. They appear at the High Noon with Milwaukee skate-punk band Deathwish (which features members of Minneapolis’s False and Appleton’s Wartorn), Die Kreuzen vocalist Dan Kubinski’s tribute act The Crosses, and the melodic and ferocious Madison punk band No Hoax. —Mike Noto
Little Legend, Christopher Gold, Oedipus Tex. Williamson Magnetic Recording Company, 8 p.m.
Madison has its share of respectable rock bands, but Little Legend is a distinctive voice among them, writing songs populated by rugged yet vulnerable characters. The band’s first proper album, 2016’s Orphan League Champs, followed two solid EPs and expanded the arrangements surrounding singer/guitarist Brandy Tudor’s heart-on-sleeve masculinity. From Joe Copeland’s angsty guitar leads on “Vietnam” to the mariachi-like horns on “Let It All Appear,” Little Legend branches out here but keeps rooted in good-natured, plainspoken, and usually very story-driven songwriting. —SG
FRIDAY SEPTEMBER 16
A New World. Masonic Center (301 Wisconsin Ave.), 8 p.m.
Video game scores, just as much as film scores, play a distinctive role in 21st century music. Both kinds of music (when done right) evoke certain characters and themes that listeners, especially those who have experienced the film or game, can more or less immediately recall and place visually. While good programmatic music should deliver a drama—one equipped with a story, a sort of character development, a climax—Nobuo Uematso’s Final Fantasy score is one that holds up as an adventure even removed from the game. Uematso uses moody, modulating sections, and drastic character changes from instrument to instrument, to paint a multidimensional picture that anyone (not just people basking in strong sensory memories of playing Final Fantasy) can enjoy. The Chicago-based ensemble A New World uses interprets music from 25-plus years of Final Fantasy games with chamber-music instrumentation. These arrangements, written by Arnie Roth and Eric Roth with support from Uematso himself, will feature violin, piano, solos, and a wide variety of chamber ensembles. —Emili Earhart
Frightened Rabbit, Into It. Over It. Majestic, 11:30 p.m.
Sometimes a band just stops thriving once its limitations are stripped away by success. That seems to be the case for Scotland’s Frightened Rabbit. With this year’s Painting Of A Panic Attack, vocalist-guitarist Scott Hutchison winds up far removed from the raw emotion and playful delivery that pulled us into 2008’s album The Midnight Organ Fight. The band is capable of wonderful things, but instead, they’ve pushed deeper into grandiose production and saccharine songwriting that reminds me of that U2 album that some folks are still struggling to wipe from their iPhones. Tunes like “Get Out” and “Woke Up Hurting” ride on dancy pop grooves and wield massive sing-along choruses. Unfortunately, the bombastic production and reverb-soaked riffs tend to drown out the emotional content, which was front and center on heart-gripping Organ Fight tunes like “Heads Roll Off” and “Fast Blood.” It might be worth catching this show just to hear tunes from the last few albums with a few layers of brain-numbing, bullshit polish stripped away, because there has to be some heart in there somewhere. —Joel Shanahan
Obsession + Body Double. Vilas Hall, 7 p.m. (free)
In De Palma, the new documentary that screened a couple of weeks ago and is arguably the anchor of this ongoing UW Cinematheque series, director Brian De Palma did not have too many good things to say about his 1976 psychological thriller Obsession, pointing to Cliff Robertson’s mis-casting as the lynchpin of everything that was wrong with the film. That said, it’s still De Palma in the director’s seat of a Paul Schrader screenplay, where Genevieve Bujold and John Lithgow flex some acting muscle. With 1984’s Body Double, we get one of the gorier scenes from De Palma’s long list of them, Melanie Griffith upstaging everyone early on in her career, and a Frankie Goes To Hollywood video shoe-horned in there to boot. This might not sound like the most glowing advocation, but even De Palma’s mid-tier work has a lot of worthwhile stuff going on if you know where to look. —CL
George’s Bush, Dismantle, Coordinated Suicides, Number #1 Band Very Good. Art In, 8 p.m.
Green Bay band George’s Bush play hardcore with a particularly scuzzy and unceremonious bent. Their recent EP Living Color plows and shouts its way through six quick portraits of misery, tackling addiction (“Mommy Stole My Needles”), anxiety (“Loose”), and, uh, even grave-robbery (“My Kind Of Girls”). —SG
Bombay Beach. Madison Public Library, Hawthorne Branch (2707 E. Washington Ave), 7 p.m. (free)
Israeli filmmaker Alma Har’el’s 2011 documentary Bombay Beach takes place in a poor community along the Salton Sea, Southern California’s fabled vacation playground-turned environmental disaster. Har’el uses those beautiful-wasteland backdrops to frame unconventionally rendered portraits of three male residents of the area. One is a young boy diagnosed with bipolar disorder, another a black teenager who fled to the Salton Sea from south central LA, and the third an 80-year-old man who sells bootleg cigarettes. The film bears a stylistic kinship to the Ross Brothers and the Harvard Sensory Ethnography Lab, plus music from Bob Dylan and Beirut. —SG
SATURDAY SEPTEMBER 17
Willy Street Fair. 800 through 1000 blocks of Williamson Street, through September 18, see link for full schedule. (free)
This year’s Willy Street Fair has some pretty clear musical standouts on both days. Saturday includes a stage from the aforementioned Madison World Music Festival, featuring acts like Israeli-Yemeni electro-pop outfit A-Wa. Saturday also brings Willy Street Beats, an electronic stage curated by the folks behind the Fete De Marquette’s electronic tent. That starts with venerable Madison DJ Mike Carlson and wraps up with Detroit-to-NYC transplant Mike Servito spinning hard-hitting techno and house (full disclosure: Tone Madison contributor Joel Shanahan is also performing on that stage under his Golden Donna moniker). Sunday boasts a nice long stretch of Madison-based musicians, especially on the WORT Underground Stage. That begins at noon with twang-damaged punk standouts Wood Chickens and also features sets from exuberant R&B/hip-hop ensemble ME eN You, electro-pop band Neens, and cerebral post-punk trio Control. As usual, it’s a pretty sweet conclusion to the East Side’s annual barrage of outdoor music. —SG
Mike Servito, Tinhead. High Noon Saloon, 10 p.m.
Since the House Of Love residency at Cardinal Bar dissolved in October of 2015, Madison hasn’t exactly been a hotspot for touring DJs to swoop through. This is why, more than ever, we look forward to the couple times a year that the city offers decent funding for electronic music stages at Le Fete De Marquette and the Willy Street Fair, where the respective headliners often go on to perform more in-depth sets for the heads at High Noon Saloon. This year we’re treated to a longform journey from NYC-based Bunker resident Mike Servito, a voracious head with an encyclopedic grasp on raw and dirty dance music past and present. The 20-plus year deck slayer’s mighty mixing and sequencing abilities are prominently on display in the incredible 2013, house-focused Boiler Room set we’ve included below. Longtime Madisonian techno fixture Tinhead opens. —JS
Ghost In The Shell. Vilas Hall, 7 p.m. (free)
As a middle school kid I found that Mamoru Oshii’s 1995 film Ghost In The Shell, with its one-two punch of techno-violence and naked-cyborg action, really spoke to me in new and unexpected ways. I’ve watched this anime who-dunnit a few times since and come away with much deeper thoughts than that regarding the nature of the soul in the realm of technology and whatnot, but that first viewing… hoo boy. It will be exciting to see this on the big screen and not on a beat up Manga™ VHS tape. —CL
Juiceboxxx, Dumb Vision, Tonawandas, Kazmir. Mickey’s Tavern, 10 p.m. (free)
Milwaukee artist Juiceboxxx has been making over-the-top occasionally punk-enhanced rap, and flailing through weirdly charismatic live performances, for longer than seems possible now. Over the past 10 years he’s put out records that swing insouciantly across the hip-hop and pop spectrum, including last year’s Heartland 99, and somewhere in there he also launched his own energy drink. He exists outside the logic of his contemporaries in both rock and hip-hop, but should pair well enough here with Madison punk four-piece Dumb Vision. —SG
SUNDAY SEPTEMBER 18
Gold Panda, Open Mike Eagle, Midas Bison. Majestic, 8 p.m.
With this year’s Good Luck And Do Your Best, producer and MPC shredder Gold Panda shoves the broader climate of contemporary dance music through a personal, shimmering, and worldly lens. “In My Car” explores the same half-time, dreamy trip-hop territory traversed on the “Ziggy Starfish” cut he conjured up for tourmate Open Mike Eagle, but as the album rolls out we hear abstractions of footwork in warped cruiser “Song For A Dead Friend,” and delicate ambient voicings in “Unthank.” At the album’s core, though, Gold Panda offers a gorgeous take on house music in crystalline thumper “Chiba Nights,” spacious swinger “Pink And Green,” and the gritty, busted rhythm of “Time Eater.” As mentioned before, LA-based emcee and hypnagogic wordsmith Open Mike Eagle, whose last release was a playful and cleverly poppy collaboration with London-based producer Paul White called Hella Personal Film Festival, will also throw down. —JS
Hold Back The Dawn. Chazen Museum of Art, 2 p.m. (free)
Micro-Wave Cinema Series: Slackjaw. Vilas Hall, 7 p.m. (free)
Read up on this fall’s Micro-Wave Cinema Series fall offerings, including this week’s screening, in our season preview.
SLACKJAW – trailer from Newhard Entertainment on Vimeo.
MONDAY SEPTEMBER 19
Scarface. Union South Marquee, 7 p.m. (free)
I find it a bit telling that Scarface is the one film in UW Cinematheque’s Brian De Palma series that is being screened in the Marquee as opposed to Ctek’s usual home turf in Vilas Hall. It’s not his best, his funniest, or even his campiest, but Scarface is far and away the De Palma movie that has the longest pop cultural tail, so it’ll be the one to pack ’em in a bit more efficiently (sadly) than, say, Sisters. Al Pacino, in a pretty garish display of Hollywood “brown face,” plays immigrant Tony Montana, who takes the Horatio Alger myth to a coked-out extreme. A careful reading of the dialogue, written by Oliver Stone, might be a clear excoriation of US foreign policy, but what most people remember are the oh-so-quotable quips, the over-the-top violence, and Michelle Pfeiffer in that dress. —CL
Jeremy Scahill. Central Library, 7 p.m. (free)
Journalist and The Intercept co-founder Jeremy Scahill visits here to discuss The Assassination Complex, a new book based on The Intercept‘s extensive reporting on the Obama Administration’s use of drone strikes. Using leaked documents, Scahill and staff have tried to cut through the secrecy surrounding the CIA and military drone policy, shedding light on the legally dubious decision-making process behind the strikes. They’ve also found that drones kill more innocent civilians than the government has publicly admitted. With The Intercept there’s sometimes a whiff of high-handed paranoia, but this is deep reporting couched in a truth-to-power spirit. —SG
TUESDAY SEPTEMBER 20
House Of Lud, The Central. High Noon Saloon, 9 p.m.
House Of Lud is a doom-metal project founded by Madison musician and serial tinkerer Troy Peterson (aka Kleptix), and last year it released a self-titled EP of ominous, minimal tracks that often favor space and restraint over full-on sludge. That said, there’s still plenty of slow, simmering distortion in the mix. House Of Lud gets its live debut here, with Justin Taylor (formerly of Awesome Car Funmaker and Butt Funnel) on bass and Chris Norris (who collaborates with Peterson in another project, Xenocom) on drums. —SG
WEDNESDAY SEPTEMBER 21
Paul Fonfara And Jim White. Shitty Barn, 7 p.m.
Twin Cities-based multi-instrumentalist Paul Fonfara has spent a lot of years blending Eastern European music with a kind of spaghetti-Western aesthetic, both under his own name and in the project Painted Saints. Jim White has carved out a distinctive place as a singer-songwriter with an at once cosmic and gritty take on folk and country. A few years ago the two began combining their respective strains of cracked Americana as touring partners and live collaborators. At this show, both will perform sets of their solo material, with Fonfara likely joining in on White’s set with guitar, clarinet, bandoneon, and/or viola. Both are under-appreciated treasures, White in his whimsical Southern-gothic way and Fonfara in his winterized Balkan-tragic way, so expect this to be a highlight of the Shitty Barn’s season. —SG