Madison calendar, April 14 through 20

Helado Negro, Anna Deavere Smith, Bob Mould, Freddie Gibbs, and more events of note in Madison this week. | By Scott Gordon, Chris Lay, Joel Shanahan

Helado Negro plays April 16 at The Sett in Union South.

Helado Negro plays April 16 at The Sett in Union South.

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THURSDAY APRIL 14


Jim Norton. Orpheum, 8 p.m.

It might seem easy to pigeonhole Jim Norton as just another gross-out misogynist mouthpiece, but examine the core of some of his raconteur dirtbag routines and you’ll find someone who’s breathtakingly honest and self-aware about who he is, no matter how depraved that person might be. A couple of years back Norton was tapped by Kamau Bell to go toe to toe debating the value of rape jokes against Lindy West, on Bell’s show Totally Biased and the result was an unexpectedly fruitful discourse, for the most part. Norton’s mix of self-loathing and unapologetic filth absolutely rides the line of “it might not be for everyone,” but he’s for more people than you (or they!) might think. —Chris Lay


Vijay Iyer. Union Theater, 8 p.m. (sold out)

Pianist Vijay Iyer’s music occasionally nods to the familiar reference points of jazz, but those moments are swept up in something much more daring and omnivorous. While he certainly draws inspiration from Monk and Coltrane, Iyer is the rare artist who actually seems capable of pushing things forward the way those artists did, drawing on inspirations including techno and Indian classical music. He’s played in a variety of formats, including a piano-bass-drums trio, compositions incorporating a string quartet and electronics, and collaborations with artists ranging from Roscoe Mitchell to Dead Prez. His trio’s most recent album was 2015’s Break Stuff, and recently he released an eerie, meandering duo album with trumpeter Wadada Leo Smith, A Cosmic Rhythm With Each Stroke. This show, where Iyer will be playing solo, is sold-out, but more tickets may be released. —Scott Gordon

Wisconsin Film Festival. Multiple venues, through April 21, see link for full schedule.

By now you’ve probably spent hours poring over the schedule of films lined up for the cinematic marathon that is the Wisconsin Film Fest. Lord knows I have. You’ve probably checked and double checked for films that you only get one shot at seeing, bought a dozen or so tickets, taken off work where appropriate, and said a little prayer to the movie gods for rush tickets to the films that sold out immediately. If you’ve really been doing your homework you’ve been following all the truly superb lead-in coverage over at LakeFrontRow and Madison Film Forum. This event truly is one of the greatest cultural unifiers across the city, so if you haven’t done any of those things you’re dropping the ball, so get on that and we’ll be seeing ya out there in lines from the Barrymore all the way across town to Sundance. —CL

Hallowed Bells, New England Patriots, Conjuror. Mickey’s Tavern, 10:30 p.m. (free)

On Many Faces, a new split EP with zone-y synth-pop quartet Still Sweet, Philadelphia-based duo Hallowed Bells offer synth-powered machine-music that’s both rhythmic without being dancy and heady without being passive. “Radiolara” builds upon a tapestry of fluttering, synthesized wilderness, as an odd-time rhythm and gorgeously obscure chord progression sneak in over the top. Eventually, Alison Stout's entrancing and ghostly vocal melodies kick in and wander confidently through the sparkling arpeggios and soaring pads, and the end result is pretty mesmerizing. Be sure to get there early for a set of sinister synth drone from Madison’s Conjuror. —Joel Shanahan


Peace Officer. Central Library, 6:30 p.m. (free)

The abstract role of local and state police foces might have changed only a little in the past few decades (“Keep the peace”), but their methods have become increasingly militarized (even a SWAT team in Madison has a decomissioned military rig). Peace Officer, the 2015 documentary by Brad Barber and Scott Christopherson, screening as part of Central Library’s “Indie Lens Pop-Up” series, digs in to these questionable developments from the point of view of a former sheriff whose son-in-law was later killed by the same SWAT techniques the sheriff set into motion three decades prior. It’s sure to be a thought-provoking film, and the screening will be followed by a discussion with Kristen Roman, Captain of Community Outreach for the Madison Police Department. —CL


FRIDAY APRIL 15

Fem Fest: Gran, The Dowry, Glamour Hotline, Not For You, Gynosaur. Union South Sett, 7 p.m.

The highlights at Fem Fest, which puts the spotlight on female and non-binary musicians, include the cavernous, ruggedly entrancing pop of Chicago band Not For You. The band’s 2015 album Canary In The Mine finds guitarist Lindsey Sherman’s voice threading sturdy, morose melodies through shoegaze-y arrangements that feel both sparkly and grimy. They recently put out a couple of new songs, “I Dream Of Sludge” and “O,” that add some thick, growling low-end but also make the band sound bigger and brigher as a whole. As an added perk, this show’s organizers will be giving away free copies of She Shreds, an excellent music magazine that covers female musicians with a mix of thoughtful criticism and technical geekery that holds its own against your Guitar Worlds and whatnot, but with a lot more self-awareness and taste. —SG


Russ Nolan, Johannes Wallmann Trio. Cardinal Bar, 5:30 p.m.

NYC jazz saxophonist Russ Nolan plays here to celebrate the release of Sanctuary From The Ordinary, a live album that charts a laid-back, conversational course between his affinity for many genres Latin dance music and his professed love for atmospheric, compositionally dense mid-’60s work of giants Herbie Hancock and Wayne Shorter. For this show, he’ll be accompanied by three Madison musicians: Johannes Wallmann on piano, John Christensen on bass, and Keith Lienert on drums. —SG


Matt Bellassai. Union Theater, 8 p.m. (sold out)

Yeah, fuck this guy. —CL


Chris Smither. Stoughton Opera House, 7:30 p.m.

SATURDAY APRIL 16

Marisa Anderson, Patrick Best. Arts + Literature Laboratory, 7 p.m.

Marisa Anderson switches among electric, acoustic, and lap-steel guitar in solo performances that cut a raw but expansive path across a wealth of blues, folk, gospel, and other traditions. The Portland-based artist’s 2013 album Traditional And Public Domain Songs, for instance, offered conversational and dextrous interpretations of songs including gospel standard “Further Along,” “The Battle Hymn Of The Republic,” and the Italian anti-fascist anthem “Bella Ciao.” But her improvisations and originals go even further in pulling together these diverse strands, and she plays here ahead of the June release of a new solo album, Into The Light, which she discussed with us in a recent interview. Patrick Best, of Pelt and Spiral Joy Band, will open here with solo pieces for classical guitar and harmonium. —SG


Helado Negro, Chants. Union South Sett, 9 p.m. (free)

A true sonic auteur in every sense—be it sound design, songwriting, or those time-stopping, hovering vocals—Roberto Lange, aka Helado Negro, has continued to challenge and flex out of the so-called “indie-pop” framework that so many of his contemporaries helplessly flail in. The project takes as many cues from the likes of Peter Gabriel or Talk Talk as it does from contemporary synth-pop a la Junior Boys, with a rhythmic twist all its own. A plunge into Helado Negro’s latest album, 2014’s Double Youth, finds a collection of electronic pop compositions that are never cheap and always challenging. For every richly infectious vocal line or harmony, there’s a skittering groove (“Myself On 2 U”), a wobbly and heavily processed tropical soundscape (“Are I Here”), or an uncontrived, time-shifting structure behind it (“That Shit Makes Me Sad”). Over the past couple years Lange has released a Helado Negro compilation, Island Universe Story, as well as a far more abstract detour under his given name for last year’s Plural People, so we’ll be stoked to see if Lange has some new material to play this time around. —JS


Tone Madison Record Store Day Party: Control, Jonesies. Bandung Indonesian Restaurant, 1:30 p.m. (free)

Every year we at Tone Madison pick a couple of Madison bands for an afternoon show to go along with Record Store Day at MadCity Music Exchange, and they play next door at Bandung Indonesian Restaurant’s Bar, and it’s really fun. This year we’ve got the warm, twistedly catchy, and ever-mutating post-punk of Control, who have yet to record a follow-up to their 2010-2012 run of four excellent EPs, but have been playing a lot of new material live. First up will be Jonesies, a newer Madison band featuring members of Gonzo Rongs, Tarpaulin, and Zinky Boys. They’ll be celebrating the release of their debut EP, Meet The Jonesies, which comprises four tracks of stripped-down, short, but cleverly crafted pop songs that put a wittily nihilistic spin on the mundanity of existence. Before and between the bands, DJs from WORT-FM will be spinning. —SG


Duck Soup Cinema: The Cameraman. Capitol Theater, 2 & 7 p.m.

One of Buster Keaton’s last great silent films (and his first for MGM), 1928’s The Cameraman tells the story of Keaton trying to win the attention and affection of a secretary at a movie studio (MGM!) by becoming a cameraman there. The studio would eventually wrest creative control of Keaton’s films away from him, resulting in the silent film legend ruing the day he signed on with the studio, but this first film still packs much of the same comedic razzle dazzle of his earlier films. As with all the Duck Soup Cinema presentations, this one will feature live accompaniment on the Capitol Theater’s organ—which, coincidentally, is also from 1928. —CL


The Smart Studios Story Pre-Party: The Hussy, The Flavor That Kills, Sky Urchin, Tarpaulin. Art In (1444 E Washington Ave., 7 p.m.

SUNDAY APRIL 17

Freddie Gibbs, Reggie Bonds, Dogs Of War. Majestic, 9 p.m.

We can’t deny that 2014’s Piñata—Gary, Indiana rapper Freddie Gibbs’ full-length collaboration with sample-powered production-lord Madlib—was a true monolith to follow, and last year’s Shadow Of A Doubt was understandably doomed to pale in comparison. But despite Shadow’s far safer and more contemporary palette of beats and the fact that the last thing any diehard fan likely wants from a Gibbs album is a reaching auto-tune ballad like “Basketball Wives,” we maintain that Gibbs could be rapping over a fucking Klosterman audiobook and his couplets would always be hard, engaging, and consistent enough to stand on their own. And don’t get us wrong, Shadow’s production has plenty to offer here too—Gibbs' acrobatic flow cuts gracefully over the ominous piano-sample of highlight “Fuckin’ Up The Count,” and the blown-out, near-industrial backdrop of “Cold Ass Nigga” sits perfectly under his gritty and explosive delivery. Gibbs typically destroys in the live setting, so we wouldn’t recommend sleeping on this one. —JS


The Smart Studios Story After Party. High Noon Saloon, 8 p.m.

The Smart Studios Story, Madison filmmaker Wendy Schneider’s long-awaited documentary about the much-missed local recording institution, gets its local premiere on Sunday night with a sold-out Wisconsin Film Festival screening at the Barrymore. (A second screening, on Tuesday at Sundance Cinemas, has also sold out.) Afterwards, a bunch of Smart-affiliated musicians, most of whom appear in the film, will cram into the High Noon for an overstuffed throwback to Wisconsin’s 1980s/early 1990s rock scene. Highlights include Madison power-poppers The Weeds, The Crosses (a Die Kreuzen tribute band fronted by actual Die Kreuzen vocalist Dan Kubinski), and mildly self-explanatory vocal act The Singing Irishman. For more about The Smart Studios Story, check out our extensive podcast interview with Schneider. —SG

Scale The Summit, Versus Me, The Fine Constant, Growing. The Red Zone, 6:30 p.m.

On last year’s V, Houston-based prog-metal outfit Scale The Summit have steered clear of the postured pompousness that overtakes many of their peers, instead carving out their own sunny space between post-rock and math-metal. Sure, a tune like “Trapped In Ice” is still loaded with relentless guitar shredding and wilfully complex rhythms, but it also has a heart in how it peaks with pummeling syncopation and soaring and emotive guitar solos, before slipping into a valley of heavenly guitar swells that float unaccompanied. We’re grateful that the snowballing influence of bands like Meshuggah and Cynic have shoved aside the nerdy coldness of Dream Theater and Racer X and inspired newer virtuosos like Scale The Summit to dig deeper for inventive expression than emotionally vacant speed trials. —JS


MONDAY APRIL 18

Funky Mondays. High Noon Saloon, 6 p.m.

This month’s edition of Funky Mondays also serves as a 73rd birthday celebration for bandleader/host and drummer extraordinaire Clyde Stubblefield. As usual, the cover charge goes to support a new scholarship fund established in Stubblefield’s honor, and Stubblefield and his band of Madison ringers will play a fun, dancefloor-friendly set of pop and R&B standards. —SG

WEDNESDAY APRIL 20

Bob Mould, Fury Things, Negative Example. Majestic, 7:30 p.m.

The trio format Bob Mould plays with here—Mould on ever-cutting and resourceful electric guitar, Jon Wurster (Superchunk) on drums, and Jason Narducy (Verbow, Split Single) on bass—has already carved out a distinct era that stands up pretty nicely next to Mould’s time in Hüsker Dü and Sugar. Together they’ve made three albums—2012’s Silver Age, 2014’s Beauty & Ruin, and the new Patch The Sky—that return Mould to fierce, hooky rock songs, with reflective but hard-bitten lyrics. Mould, now 55, is looking back on a lot with these records, but has learned too much to bullshit around with us. Recent highlights like Beauty & Ruin’s “Fire In The City,” Silver Age’s “The Descent,” and Patch The Sky’s “Black Confetti” are among the most sharp, focused, and moving stuff you could ask for from the guy, or any other rock songwriter working today. —SG


Distinguished Lecture Series: Anna Deavere Smith. Union Theater, 7:30 p.m. (free)

Playwright and actor Anna Deavere Smith’s career has veered between the mainstream (roles in shows like The West Wing) and format-busting, politically challenging works like her one-person Twilight: Los Angeles, 1992, which was based entirely on transcripts of interviews about the Rodney King riots. More recently, she’s worked as a professor at NYU, explored the school-to-prison pipeline in a new documentary-theater work called The Pipeline Project, and become an artist-in-residence at the Center for American Progress. She speaks here as part of the Wisconsin Union’s annual Lit Fest series, which this year is focused on Shakespeare, so expect Smith to share some of her own insights on the Bard. —SG