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Slow Pulp returns, a Dream House appears

Plus more events we recommend checking out in Madison, October 10 through 16 edition.
A black-and-white publicity photo of the band Slow Pulp shows the band's four members standing closely together and facing the camera.
Slow Pulp plays the Terrace on October 13. Photo by Alec Basse.

Plus more events we recommend checking out in Madison, October 10 through 16 edition.

We’re partnering with the wonderful independent email newsletter Madison Minutes to bring you event recommendations every week. Some of these write-ups 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]SEPTEMBER 21

OCTOBER 11

Kaleta & Super Yamba Band at Bur Oak. Doors at 7 p.m., music at 8 p.m. $15 advance, $20 doors.

OCTOBER 13

Alvvays, Slow Pulp at Memorial Union Terrace. 7 p.m. Free.

Nothing quite like a bit of tasteful indie pop to get everyone excited for… a collegiate homecoming? Nonetheless, when the standard being set is this absurdly high, no one should complain. Slow Pulp—a Chicago quartet who once called Madison home—will kick off a free bill at the Terrace, setting the stage for Canadian critical darlings Alvvays‘ headlining set. Alvvays will be appearing fresh off the release of Blue Rev, an unexpected career high from a band that’s maintained a high standard of excellence since breaking into international consciousness with their 2013 hit “Archie, Marry Me.”

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Slow Pulp’s last release, the standalone 2021 single “Shadow,” saw the band continuing to experiment with their distinct take on indie punk, leaning into a mid-fi, early-2000s alternative rock aesthetic to arresting effect. Having seen them recently, I can say with confidence that their live show has never been sharper or more energetic and should be a perfect complement to Alvvays’ pristine (but still highly engaging!) professionalism. Should the weather decide to not cooperate, the show will be moved into the Wisconsin Union Theater. Rain or shine, the caliber of this bill constitutes one of the best free live music opportunities Madison showgoers will get this year.

Steven Spoerl

Yid Vicious (benefit concert for Ukraine). 7 p.m. $10 advance, $12 doors.

Bad Axe (with director David Siev in person) at UW Cinematheque. Doors at 6:30 p.m., screening at 7 p.m. Free.

OCTOBER 14

Dream House, a La Monte Young birthday celebration at Common Sage. 8 p.m. Free.

House venue Common Sage celebrates La Monte Young’s 87th birthday, his 1974 drone record (with Marian Zazeela and Theatre of Eternal Music) Dream House, and Young and Zazeela’s art space of this same name, with this special meditative social—in a manner of speaking.

Organizers Tim Russell and Liz Sexe will open their doors to visitors between 8 p.m. and midnight; and they have extended a collaborative invitation to videographer and video artist Aaron Granat, who will help recreate the light installations and soothing environmental aura of the original space (a third-floor apartment located off Church St in TriBeCa). All the while, the sine wave-altered voice of Young and more sonorous vocalizing of Zazeela (and likely other Young records that feature synths, percussion, and even tambura) will reverberate through the modestly sized rooms.

While only 10 masked people are permitted inside at a time, Russell has mentioned utilizing additional space in their backyard with a small fire pit, weather and temperature permitting. If you’re planning on anything more than walking through the house or lounging for a few minutes, Russell and Sexe encourage bringing a cushion or blanket.

Consider this calming, almost therapeutic open house of sorts as a prelude to Common Sage’s potentially more active schedule in 2023, one they attempted to kickstart at the start of 2020. —Grant Phipps

Billy Woods, ShrapKnel at Memorial Union Rathskeller. 7 p.m. Free.

Few rap artists of this era have carved out a niche as singular and arresting as Billy Woods. Run a Twitter search on “Billy Woods best writer” and the resulting cavalcade of glowing tweets are a strong indicator of how he’s perceived by his audience, which continues to expand. As a solo artist and as a member of Armand Hammer, Woods has netted notoriety as one of the genre’s preeminent “underground” rap artists. Woods’ downbeat, haunting, dreamlike soundscapes, aggressive delivery, and superlative writing are the rapper’s core calling cards, conjuring up a mesmeric mystique. Every last inch of that formula is on display in Woods’ latest—the freshly released Church—just as it was on his breakout single, Hiding Places‘ “Spongebob.”  

ShrapKnel, a rap group who, like Woods, has made some cross-genre waves within the DIY punk scene, will open the night. Metal Lung, ShrapKnel’s new album, features the emergent duo embracing a wild-eyed, frenetic mode. Both Woods and ShrapKnel are inherently connected by a commendable artistic drive to keep pushing forward, never wanting to risk losing a step. (ShrapKnel also gets bonus Wisconsin points for name-dropping then-Bucks assistant coach Darvin Ham on ShrapKnel‘s “Gun Metal Paint.”) NYC’s rap scene has always been overwhelmingly strong and influential, but even in that storied history, Billy Woods and ShrapKnel are talented enough to stand out.

Steven Spoerl

OCTOBER 15

Gate Check with Cole Bartels at Grace Episcopal Church. Noon. Free.

At this performance, Darren Sterud and his quartet Gate Check will collaborate with fellow trombonist Cole Bartels to pay tribute to The Great Kai & J. J., the 1960 album from trombonists Kai Winding and J. J. Johnson. It’s a good fit for Gate Check’s versatility and conversational interplay: The Great‘s album’s highlights range from a dynamic take on Thelonious Monk’s “Blue Monk” to the sly blues of Johnson’s original “Trixie.”

Sterud gave his original compositions an expansive showcase on Gate Check’s 2021 album Places. Drummer Matthew Endres, bassist Ben Ferris, pianist Chris Rottmayer, and Sterud used the travel-themed project to take the listener through a variety of emotional settings and just as many points along the continuum of jazz. From the plaintive, slow build of “Highlands,” the playful spookiness of “Sighisoara,” the rollicking second-line explosion of “Bywater,” the quartet treats all these different crosscurrents as living and lively things.

This October 15 show at Grace Episcopal Church will focus solely on material from The Great Kai & J. J. But there will be a chance soon to hear more of Sterud’s originals on October 21 at The Bur Oak, when Gate Check opens an album-release show for Mr. Chair.

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—Scott Gordon

Take Out at UW Cinematheque. Doors at 6:30 p.m., screening at 7 p.m. Free.

Excerpt from Grant Phipps’ review and interview with co-writer and co-director Sean Baker:

For all its constant pressures of time, chronicling the vicissitudes in a day in the life of a Chinese takeout deliveryman, Sean Baker and Shih-Ching Tsou’s microbudget masterpiece Take Out (2004) possesses a timeless empathy.

With a shoestring budget of $3,000 that was paid out of pocket, Baker and Tsou’s film situates itself in an actual working restaurant in NYC’s Manhattan Valley neighborhood, and maneuvers through the streets and apartment buildings of the Upper West Side with a kinetic velocity comparable to the Danish Dogme 95 films of Lars Von Trier and Thomas Vinterberg, as well as the Dardenne Brothers’ Rosetta (1999), “as if it were shot from the barrel of a gun,” Kent Jones once wrote of the latter.

Baker assumes cinematographic duties, using a MiniDV camera that winds its way into packed kitchen spaces, stairwell and elevator corners, as well as the car-crowded, rain-drenched streets of the city with a comparably gripping urgency and spontaneity.

This is something more than a simple narrative; it’s wholly unified documentary and fiction. It’s fragments of an immigrant’s reality as if it were captured by one of deliveryman Ming Ding (Charles Jang)’s coworkers, like his close friend and confidant Young (Jeng-Hua Yu), who understands his present predicament—to repay, in less than 24 hours, a debt to a loan shark who aided in his smuggling from China or face the crushing, recurrent reality of violent retaliation. Young has also struggled to make a life for himself in New York after the same circumstance, physically distant but emotionally connected to his family on the other side of the world.

OCTOBER 16

The Pit And The Pendulum at Chazen Museum of Art. Doors at 1:30 p.m., screening at 2 p.m. Free.

From Ian Adcock’s feature on UW Cinematheque’s October Sunday series at the Chazen Museum Of Art:

The loosely Edgar Allan Poe-adapted The Pit And The Pendulum (1991) graphically depicts the horrors of the Spanish Inquisition.

Accused of practicing witchcraft by the Grand Inquisitor Torquemada (Lance Henriksen), innocent Maria (Rona De Ricci) and her husband Antonio (Jonathan Fuller) are imprisoned and tortured. Torquemada grows increasingly infatuated with his beautiful captive, and Maria has to learn magic from kindly witch Esmerelda (Frances Bay, a David Lynch/Adam Sandler regular) in order to survive. Written by Gordon’s lifelong friend and collaborator Dennis Paoli (who visited the Wisconsin Film Festival this year), The Pit And The Pendulum manages to be a well-researched depiction of the Inquisition while also brimming with Gordon’s signature gallows humor. Gordon uses the hypocrisy and fanaticism of the Inquisition as a commentary on the rise of the religious right during the Reagan and Bush years as well as his eternal struggles with the MPAA ratings board.

The Pit And The Pendulum was a return to horror for Gordon, who had spent the previous couple years developing Honey, I Shrunk The Kids (1989) for Disney before stress-induced health issues led him to drop out as director. The film also reunited Gordon with producer and horror mogul Charles Band, whose Empire Pictures had produced Gordon’s first four films. While Band is best known for churning out cheap straight-to-VHS junk like Puppet Master (1989), he always gave Gordon artistic freedom. The Pit And The Pendulum’s period ambience benefits from being filmed in an actual 15th-century castle owned by Band, an ingenious cost-cutting method that Gordon would use again for the truly terrifying Castle Freak (1995).

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