Bent Knee, Mavis Staples, Wood Chickens, Ginuwine, and more events of note in Madison this week. | By Grant Phipps, Emili Earhart, Michael Penn II, Joel Shanahan, Scott Gordon
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THURSDAY SEPTEMBER 8
Sonia Sotomayor. Wisconsin Union Theater, 4 p.m. (sold out, free)
The free tickets for Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor’s Q&A-style appearance here have all been snapped up, but if you have a way to wheedle one you should. Sotomayor became the first Hispanic and Latina member of the Court when President Barack Obama nominated her in 2009, and she has taken part in a particularly fractious time in the court’s history, an era that has brought historic rulings extending same-sex marriage rights to all the states, upholding the Affordable Care Act, and allowing companies to block their employees’ access to contraception. And thanks to the ongoing gridlock over filling the late Antonin Scalia’s seat, there’s seldom been a more interesting time to see a sitting justice talk. —Scott Gordon
Xenia Rubinos, DJ Lolo, Tin Can Diamonds. Frequency, 8 p.m.
Between her 2013 debut album Magic Trix and this year’s Black Terry Cat, singer/producer/multi-instrumentalist Xenia Rubinos refined her powers both at crafting mosaics from shards of disparate musical traditions and at binding them together with solid pop songwriting. On the new album, “Just Like I” combines staggering, punkish fuzz bass with subtly teetering chord progressions and one of Rubinos’ most effusive, high-reaching vocal melodies. “See Them” finds her crafting fragmented synth-pop, but again with the songwriting and vocal strength to keep it all driving forward melodically. Some of the tracks are a bit more slow-building, like “Don’t Wanna Be,” which layers spacey hooks over a deft, sultry R&B rhythm section. All-over-the-place eclecticism doesn’t work for everyone, but with Rubinos the unlikely and whimsical combinations tend to become thrillingly taut and a great deal of fun too. Sharing the bill here is Madison-based DJ Lolo, who recently told us about a few of her favorite tracks for our Aces series. —SG
Ian Bagg. Comedy Club on State, through Sept. 10, see link for all showtimes.
There’s something about the “reality TV” plane of existence where Last Comic Standing dwells that simply isn’t conducive to presenting the art of standup well. As a calling card though, it has been the lynchpin of so many comedians making to the next level career-wise. One such comedian, Ian Bagg, was toiling in semi-obscurity for damn near two decades before a top five finish on Last Comic Standing last year (and he was far and away the most seasoned of the bunch if you ask me) gave him a much better footing across the nation as a headliner. Bagg’s material is charged with a manic energy yet still clearly well thought-out and manicured, with punchy “this guy knows what I’m talking about”-style one-liners bridging the gaps between his longer bits. It’s relatively clean (he’s Canadian after all), but still has a pleasantly acidic edge to it. Michael Harrison features and local Martin Henn hosts. —Chris Lay
FRIDAY SEPTEMBER 9
Square One: Foshizzle Friday Anniversary. Cardinal Bar, 9 p.m.
This week’s edition of the Square One DJ residency at Cardinal Bar celebrates the four-year anniversary of Madison’s refreshingly eclectic and hard-working Foshizzle Family DJ crew. Whether they’re throwing an underground party, hosting low-key dance events at James Madison Park, or spinning deep selections at their various local residencies, the crew’s dedication to the headier and more soulful corners of house, techno, and other forward-thinking electronic fare has stood out against a local climate once dominated by EDM, innocuous and overtly polished tech-house, and Skrillex-infused bro-step. While Square One typically brings in a regional guest DJ, this week’s installment features three Madison-based selectors in Mr. Alexander, Justin Scofield, and Whodie Guthrie. It’s also worth noting that this party follows an earlier anniversary event at James Madison Park, which kicks off at 4 p.m. and features rave-lifer Jared Perez, deep disco, funk, and house selector Zukas, and Foshizzle Family mainstays Wangzoom and Funkenstein. —Joel Shanahan
Tippy, DTCV, Linda. Mickey’s Tavern, 10:30 p.m. (free)
California band DTCV makes bright, bent-up power-pop that certainly has the mark of ’90s giants like Sonic Youth and Pavement on it, but channels that with its own warmth and offhand charm. Their latest album, this year’s Confusion Moderne, finds leaders Lola G. (a French-born, LA-based musician) and Jim Greer (a former member of Guided By Voices) writing most of their songs in Lola’s native French and trading alternately languid and barbed guitar lines under their amiable vocal pairings. —SG
Sisters + Raising Cain. Vilas Hall, 7 p.m. (free)
UW Cinematheque’s slate of Friday night De Palma double features keeps on rolling along with 1973’s Sisters (Criterion spine no. 89!) and 1992’s Raising Cain (Criterion spine no. LOLJK). While Sisters saw De Palma finding his voice early on, arguably snapping some of his stylistical calling cards into focus for the first time, Raising Cain is the much more bonkers of the two. It features John Lithgow playing not only a child psychologist but also each of the multitude of personalities locked in his head. Neither of these are De Palma’s most-seen films (we’ll get to Scarface, Mission: Impossible, and The Untouchables soon enough) so definitely get out there and catch em if you can. —CL
SATURDAY SEPTEMBER 10
Capitalland Music Fest: Ginuwine, Joe, Vivian Green, Kinfolk, DJ Ace. Capitol Theater (moved from Breese Stevens Field), 6 p.m.
The lineup for the Capitalland Music Fest reminds me of the concerts I’d hear advertised on the throwback radio in my grandma’s Lexus. Ginuwine, Joe, and Vivian Green at Breese Stevens? With a group called Kinfolk opening and “the smooth sounds of DJ Ace?” For $48, that’s a hell of a lot of Blackness to be so close to downtown and outside. (Save for a recent F. Stokes appearance at “The Bodega” this summer, I thought no Black artists ever got the spotlight at Breese.) It’s sponsored by plenty of local orgs with prominence, but it’s still flying under-the-radar. If I wasn’t moving, I’d be here. You deserve to hear “Pony” live. You deserve “I Wanna Know” while cradling your partner or your potential side piece. And you damn sure deserve to reflect on the “Emotional Rollercoaster” that the latter decision will likely send you on. —Michael Penn II
Bent Knee, And Illusions, Erik Kramer. Mickey’s Tavern, 10 p.m. (free)
Boston art-rock sextet Bent Knee’s latest album, Say So, is simultaneously the band’s moodiest and most accessible set of compositions to-date, persistent proof of the strengths the band finds in collaboration and dramatic emphasis on sound dynamics. The core of the gloriously meandering “Eve” features startling dissonance and Courtney Swain’s reverberating, elastic voice situated in a lyrically picture-perfect suburbia before it all collapses into ghostly chamber ambience. This nine-minute epic track is a dexterous amalgam of stimulating musical possibilities united by Swain’s intimate contemplation; but this depth of craft also lends definition to their most inviting pop hook in the record’s first single, “Leak Water.” At this surely exuberant Mickey’s show, expect to hear a few brand-new tunes as well. Two up-and-coming Madison acts will open: the eclectic solo guitar debut of Erik Kramer, and the atmospheric electronic and electric bass duo, And Illusions, whose name is a play on Flannery O’Connor’s home of Andalusia. (Full disclosure: And Illusions member Emili Earhart is a Tone Madison contributor.) —Grant Phipps
Mavis Staples, William Tyler. Majestic, 7:30 p.m.
Gospel and R&B veteran Mavis Staples is on a recent run of albums that find her approaching 80 with a voice that gorgeously balances bright melody and rugged lower registers. Records like this year’s Livin’ On A High Note, 2013’s One True Vine, and 2007’s We’ll Never Turn Back put a warm, patient spin on material from an impressive range of songwriters, including Funkadelic’s “Can You Get To That,” Low’s “Some Holy Ghost,” the Nick Cave-written “Jesus Lay Down Beside Me,” and even “Action,” written by Tune-Yards’ Merrill Garbus. Of course, much is made of the fact that Jeff Tweedy and M. Ward have helped produced her recent work, and have do contribute some solid songwriting but mostly make it sound like they stayed out of the way (which is sometimes the mark of a truly deft producer). In any case, these records are all about offering a simple platform for Staples’ strengths, which are very much intact. Absolutely get to the show in time for Nashville guitarist William Tyler’s opening set. Tyler’s instrumental solo albums—2010’s Behold The Spirit, 2013’s Impossible Truth, and this year’s Modern Country—put him up there with the most inventive of your contemporary-meets-rustic-meets-avant-meets-psych, John Fahey- and Robbie Basho-honoring guitarists, and seeing him is a treat unto itself. Tyler will be playing solo here. —SG
Nausicaä Of The Valley Of The Wind. Vilas Hall, 7 p.m. (free)
Can you blame UW Cinematheque for screening so many Hayao Miyazaki films these past few years? I mean, there was a season-long collection a couple of years ago, and then a smaller run of a few films last year, and now we’re getting 1984’s Nausicaä Of The Valley Of The Wind again as part of the “Heroines of Anime” series. I’m not complaining at all, by the way. Nausicaä is a princess who, along with her mutated insect friends, must make peace between the kingdoms that are warring over Earth’s depleted resources in an increasingly possible future where our ecosystem has been decimated by pollution. There’s a reason they keep going back to this well, and it’s because Miyazaki was a goddam master craftsman of story and visuals and this, one of his earliest features, is no exception. —CL
Trevor Noah. Orpheum, 7 p.m.
South Africa-born comedian Trevor Noah comes here close to his one-year anniversary as host of The Daily Show, where he’s faced tough reviews as he stepped into the unforgiving shadow of Jon Stewart. In Noah’s defense, he is a charming, quippy host, even if he’s not able to access Stewart’s rough-and-tumble earnestness—and Stewart had 16 years to build up the show’s masterful conscience-prodding mockery. Noah’s persona in stand-up specials like 2015’s Lost In Translation is much like his work behind the Daily Show desk: He sports an amiably, even innocently bemused persona, not reaching especially deep in his material but coming off a decent enough fellow all the same. —SG
SUNDAY SEPTEMBER 11
Wood Chickens, Kitsch, Jonesies. Williamson Magnetic Recording Company, 8 p.m.
Madison band Wood Chickens combine the vitality of punk rock with the fastest jangle-country around. The band’s recent Daytrotter session, released this past April, presents both the twangiest and thrashiest sides of cowpunk. Wood Chickens will be found in rare, acoustic form here (I think I heard something about a stumpf fiddle?) and have been at work on a new full-length, so don’t miss Madison’s favorite psychobilly boys. The night will also feature the melodic yet grungy Kitsch, from Cedar Rapids, Iowa. Their latest record, Novelty, offers a moody, anxious adventure driven by singer Emily Otis, whose voice fights a sort of torment with a sense of prickly wit. Kicking off the night, Madison trio Jonesies, will supply you with some charming, honest twee, contributing to a bill that taps into a wide array of emotions, all in one night. —Emili Earhart
Lonely Are The Brave. Chazen Museum of Art, 2 p.m. (free)
MONDAY SEPTEMBER 12
Fire Retarded, Empty Markets, The Smells. Mickey’s Tavern, 10 p.m. (free)
Austin trio Empty Markets join bands like Running and Spray Paint on the bracingly stripped-down, clanging end of the contemporary rock-n-roll spectrum. Empty Markets’ debut album, Stainless Steel, has an array of rhythmic approaches going on under the excoriating surface: There’s the tense lurch of “Bulging Affidavits,” the queasy shuffle of “Monochrome Lunch,” the insistent stomp of “In Summary.” Throughout it all, the band lays down dissonant, tangled guitar figures and shouted vocals, offering a smart but playfully reckless take on art-punk. —SG
TUESDAY SEPTEMBER 13
Madison World Music Festival. Multiple venues, through September 17, see link for full schedule (free)
The performances and workshops at the annual Madison World Music Festival don’t kick off in earnest until September 15, with music in several spots at the Memorial Union and a stage at the Willy Street Fair. Tuesday will feature an opening ceremony in the Union Theater’s Sunset Lounge with a sand mandala ceremony drawing on Tibetan traditions. Highlights in the days following include Sudan/U.S. ensemble Alsarah And The Nubatones, Israeli/Yemeni electro-pop group A-Wa, and Zanzibar’s Rajab Suleiman And Kithara. I’m particularly drawn in by the latter act’s stately vocals and dynamic arrangements of zither, oud, accordion, and hand percussion. The big attraction is September 17 at the Union Theater, with a set of dance cavernous, multiphonic singing by the Tibetan monks of The Mystical Arts of Tibet. —SG
WEDNESDAY SEPTEMBER 14
Hanah Jon Taylor’s Sun Rise Serenades. Ancora Coffee King Street, 7:30 a.m. (free)
On September 7, Madison-based musician Hanah Jon Taylor began treating early-morning patrons at Ancora Coffee (Wednesdays) and Ground Zero (Thursdays) to solo improvisations on tenor and soprano sax and flute. Taylor is an accomplished improviser who has toured and collaborated nationally and internationally. His first Sun Rise Serenade found him laying down subtle, legato passages and tastefully shifting into more punchy, blues-influenced territory when things at Ancora got a little busier. One of Taylor’s reasons for doing these shows is that he’s always up early to start practicing anyway, so think of it as a chance to observe an improviser honing his craft—and get a bit of respite during the morning rush. —SG