Outdoor blowouts on both Monona and Mendota

Plus more events we recommend checking out in Madison, August 29 through September 4 edition.
The band Free Dirt performing at Madison's High Noon Saloon.
Free Dirt plays at and hosts The Dig In on September 3 at the East Side Club. Photo by Steven Spoerl.

Plus more events we recommend checking out in Madison, August 29 through September 4 edition.

We’re partnering with the wonderful independent email newsletter Madison Minutes to bring you event recommendations every week. As of this summer, we’re dipping our toe back in with a few actual write-ups, some of which will appear in Madison Minutes‘ weekly event email, and all of which will appear here.

A few notes: This events roundup is, as before, selective and not comprehensive. Each week, we’ll focus on a handful of things our editors and writers find compelling, and that’s it. We’ll write up a few of them, and just list a few more. It’ll take us a while to get back to full strength with this part of our coverage, because we’ve had so many other exciting, demanding things to work on lately. Please reach out to us with suggestions—and info about your event, as long as you’re able to get it to us a few weeks in advance—at [email protected].


Sessions At McPike Park: Beauty of the Beat / September Sundown at McPike Park. 5 to 10 p.m. both days. Free. See link for full lineup and set times.  


Rooftop Cinema: North By Current at Madison Museum Of Contemporary Art. Doors at 7:30 p.m., screening at 8 p.m. $7

Angelo Madsen Minax’s deeply felt documentary North By Current (2021) is tethered to unraveling a family tragedy as much as it is a family itself. Much like Poly Styrene: I Am A Cliché, which screened as part of Rooftop Cinema a few weeks ago, the filmmaker introduces their work by conjuring a long-internalized question to explore personal history. “How did you become who you became?” Minax asks, his voice stretched thin. There’s a contemplative confidence in his words, and yet his tone is exasperated, as he anticipates the confrontation of present reality and past relationships in returning home to the snowy stretches of rural Grayling, Michigan.


While dealing with the broad fallout from the sudden death of niece Kalla (his sister Jesse’s infant daughter) and a police investigation that rules it a homicide, which dredges up other familial woes surrounding addiction and abuse, Angelo also grapples with Mormon parents who reject his gender transition and artistic identity. In scenes that are both illuminating and devastating, complemented by Julien Baker‘s abstract and reverb-heavy score, North By Current interweaves a poetically splintered autobiography with a meditation on the filmmaking process. —Grant Phipps


Party In The Park at James Madison Park. 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Free.

WSUM’s annual music festival returns, showcasing a wide variety of Wisconsin artists. Milwaukee’s Diet Lite co-headlines, serving catchy power-pop with snotty group vocals and hooky guitar lines. Grungy post-punk outfit Interlay will co-headline behind its 2020 EP Cicada. The Madison-based four-piece offers tortured, expressive vocals and meandering, fraught guitar lines over a focused, driven rhythm section. The third headliner, UW-Madison student Deryk G, performs behind his latest release Peace In Armageddon, which blends catchy, funky pop with thoughtful, intentional R&B.

The full Party In The Park lineup, boasting nine artists and eight DJs—many of whom represent the current, standout program schedule of students on the airwaves—can be found here. —Emili Earhart

Lost Highway at UW Cinematheque. Doors at 6:30 p.m., screening at 7 p.m. Free

Excerpt from Jason Fuhrman’s review: As Lynch intricately weaves together parallel narrative threads, Lost Highway unfolds in a deliriously dreamlike succession of grotesque yet painterly tableaux, richly evocative soundscapes, and volatile atmospheres. Lynch’s film daringly warps time, space, and identity, while gradually erasing the boundaries between the inner life of its subject and the cruel world outside his head. With its complex, paradoxically looped narrative structure, full-throttle visual style, electrifying performances, and inspired juxtaposition of beauty and terror, Lost Highway is quintessential Lynch. The film paved the way for his similarly audacious and challenging later features Mulholland Dr. (2001) and Inland Empire (2006), both of which traffic in dual identities, elliptical, nonlinearity, elliptical plots, and what the artist calls “the absurd mystery of the strange forces of existence.”

Mike Gamble, Devin Drobka, Tony Barba at Dark Horse ArtBar. 9 p.m.


The Dig In at East Side Club. 2 p.m. $5.

Every so often, Madison will play host to a solitary quasi-fest that’s too big to be considered a regular show and boasts a lineup too enticing to miss. On Saturday, September 3, The East Side Club will be notching in another instance of this mega-bill structure with “The Dig In,” featuring five bands and a DJ—WORT Production Director and longtime Madison music staple Aaron Scholz—who will break up the interstitial setup/tear-down times by spinning an assortment of records. Other highlights on the bill include alt-Americana stalwarts Free Dirt and the mesmeric ambient-folk artist Def Sonic, who has been booking aggressively in Madison and reliably delivering genuinely memorable sets. Redshift Headlights, a fuzzy, post-punk-indebted act from the Fox Valley, will be making a full-band appearance, as will the dry-witted and disarming singer-songwriter Nick Brown and inimitable new-wave weirdo Educational Davis. —Steven Spoerl

Hot Summer Gays: September Crush at Robinia Courtyard. 10 p.m.


Poopshovel, Moonboot at High Noon Saloon. Doors at 6 p.m., music at 7 p.m. $10.

Poopshovel, playing here for the first time in almost 30 years, has a proud place among a crop of ’80s- and ’90s Madison bands that combined noisy aggression with a whole lot of smart-assed commentary and just as much eccentric style. (Other standouts in that vein included Appliances-SFB and of course Killdozer.) Throw on the band’s first album, 1989’s Opus Lengthemus, and you’ll hear guitarist Richard Whitaker punctuating his riffs with squealing pinch harmonics and singer Bill Crawford going off on trumpet runs between deadpan stream-of-consciousness verses, while drummer Pete Kaesberg and bassist David Kovalic create big, driving grooves. The band is probably best known for its over-the-top Packers anthem, “One Pass Away” (from 1991’s I Came, I Saw, I Had A Hotdog), but there are plenty of other bizarre gems where that came from. —Scott Gordon

An ode to the best and worst of Madison summers.

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