Madison calendar, August 17 through 23

Elysia Crampton, Lucien Parker, Makeshift Festival, The New Pornographers, and more events of note in Madison this week. | By Emili Earhart, Scott Gordon, Joel Shanahan, and Henry Solotaroff-Webber

Elysia Crampton. Photo by Juri Hiensch.

Elysia Crampton. Photo by Juri Hiensch.

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THURSDAY AUGUST 17

Bad Cinema: Quiet Cool. Central Library, 6:30 p.m. (free)

Clay Borris' 1986 thriller/travesty Quiet Cool begins when a New York City cop's former love interest reaches out to him for help finding her missing family. The loose-cannon officer, Joe Dylanne (James Remar). is asked to come to the Northwest (yep, just “the Northwest”), where he eventually discovered that Katy Greer’s (played by Daphne Ashbrook, sister of Twin Peaks’ Dana Ashbrook) family was massacred. This leads him to investigate an evil crew of weed growers. Worth the watch alone for its sinister portrayal of grow-ops, a completely over-the-top kill count, and a smorgasbord of shit acting, Quiet Cool should fit snugly into the Madison Public Library's Bad Cinema series. —Joel Shanahan

Ronny Chieng. Comedy Club on State, through Aug. 19, see link for all showtimes.

American audiences know Ronny Chieng mostly for helping to prove that The Daily Show can still thrive in the post-Jon Stewart era, especially thanks to an October 2016 segment in which he pilloried Fox News ding-dong Jesse Watters for a racist dispatch about New York's Chinatown. Whereas Watters' segment attempted to portray Asian Americans as doddering and ignorant of the 2016 presidential race, Chieng (who was born in Malaysia) went and re-reported the whole thing, interviewing people in Chinatown in Mandarin when necessary and revealing a far more nuanced picture—in other words, delivering the kind of journalistically righteous but also mercilessly funny work that people need from TDS. In his stand-up, Chieng has a knack not just for parsing the humor embedded in everyday situations, but for uncovering spirals of madness in the ordinary, as in one short but explosively effective bit about trying to make social plans. He plays this run of shows as his new show Ronny Chieng: International Student gets its start on the BBC. —Scott Gordon

FRIDAY AUGUST 18

The New Pornographers, Ought, Trophy Dad. Live On King Street, 7 p.m. (free)

The New Pornographers' early albums, starting with 2000's Mass Romantic, placed pop music into a brilliantly mutated scheme, one where jamming more melodic twists into a hook made it more euphoric and where writing indecipherable lyrics made the intricate vocal harmonies stickier. I couldn't tell you what Mass Romantic's "Letter From An Occupant" or "Use It," from 2005's Twin Cinema, are about, but they hold up as furiously catchy, convoluted masterpieces, a sly humor running alongside their urgency. The band's seventh album, this year's Whiteout Conditions, nails a balance they've struggled for since 2010's Together—keeping the edge of their earlier work, but making room for more varied and polished arrangements. About the only disappointment is the absence of Destroyer's Dan Bejar, who's arguably done his best work on New Pornographers albums (for my money Mass Romantic's "Jackie" and Twin Cinema's "Jackie, Dressed In Cobras" beat out almost anything Destroyer has ever done). On tracks like "Juke" and "High Ticket Attractions," the band sound almost as aggressive as ever, and while sleekly working in new percussive textures and arpeggiated synths. This Live On King Street show also boasts an opening set from Madison's own Trophy Dad, who released the solid Dogman EP in May. —Scott Gordon

Cult House Resurrection: Midwaste, Mad Max Elliott, 10564, DJ Lauden. Art In, 8 p.m.

The Madison/Milwaukee duo Midwaste uses an ever-evolving configuration of samples, guitars, synths, and delay pedals to create planetarium-worthy experimental music. Epiphany Compton uses cassette samples of dialogue and ambient sound to create a sense of narrative and pacing, while Spencer Bible creates dense, shimmering layers of swelling guitar and synth. Midwaste's live performances help to demonstrate that even music with a rather abstract approach can create a powerful emotional connection. The duo put out two releases in 2016, the EP As Relayed and a limited CD called Eleanora/Exit. They play here as part of a re-launch event for Cult House, an event series that Madison-based musician and DJ Dan Woodman (whose projects include Lens and Drunjus) launched in his home some years ago and has recently branched out into booking other shows and even food-based events. Also on the bill are psychobilly howler Mad Max Elliott and noise artist 10564. —Scott Gordon

Lucien Parker, Mic Kellogg, Ran Harper. Memorial Union Terrace, 9 p.m. (free)

With the latest in a fertile string of one-off tracks, “Changes,” Lucien Parker has cemented himself as a thoroughly well-rounded MC and singer. While this foray into poppier R&B bears resemblance to mainstream artists like Bryson Tiller and foregrounds Parker's knack for melody, it also contains a sort of hidden depth. (Other recent tracks, like "Impossible," find him focusing more on rapping.) Parker's lyrics weave together experiences and emotions in ways that strike a solid balance between showing and telling. "When my head is sick I know it change my presence / My best efforts go to effortless expressions, keep 'em guessing," he sings on "Changes," leaving the meaning open enough for listeners to link things with their own experiences. He will be joined at the terrace by Milwaukeean and former Madison resident Mic Kellogg. The breakfast-themed rapper-singer is kind of the light to Parker's shadow. Many of his songs, like the recent “Up,” are drenched in a particular emotion, in this case a mix of nostalgia and expectation. There’s no hiding or abstraction with Kellogg. Instead, the strength in his music lies in crystallizing a feeling in sonic form and bringing it to the listener with a bit of extra polish. —Henry Solotaroff-Webber

Tephra Sound. Arts + Literature Laboratory, 8 p.m.

Tephra Sound is an adventurous, improvisational jazz quartet in which cellist Helen Gillet joins three other musicians boasting distinct, seasoned resumés. Gillet’s long list of collaborations includes jazz vocalist Cassandra Wilson, Psychedelic Furs, and Tatsuya Nakatani, and she is trained in musical forms ranging from North Indian ragas, to French chansons to blues. She began forming Tephra Sound with keyboardist and Brian Haas (Jacob Fred Jazz Odyssey), whose sensitive-yet-playful style contributes a specific character to the group. Multi-wind instrumentalist Jessica Lurie contributes a Balkan- and Klezmer-leaning style, and a dash of  animated, eccentric personality. Drummer Nikki Glaspie's experience includes playing on a five-year tour with Beyoncé and forming New Orleans jazz-funk outfit Nth Power, and she contributes to Tephra Sound with driving (yet often bouncy and sporadic) rhythms and direction. The group plays here behind their August release, Horizon. —Emili Earhart

SATURDAY AUGUST 19

Hot Summer Gays. Robinia Courtyard, 5 p.m. to 2 p.m.

The Hot Summer Gays series (a collaboration between local organizations Queer Pressure and Dyke Dive) returns here with another music lineup aimed at elevating LGBTQ performers in Madison, this time at Robinia Courtyard, where Queer Pressure also hosts a monthly art series. Like July's installment at The Wisco, this lineup is part dance party, part left-field listening session, and some artists offer a bit of both at once. Starting things off is Madison's Olyvia Jaxyn, whose recent EP Lyv melds tenderly off-kilter pop with intriguingly mournful vocals and a bright, spacious approach to production. Other highlights on the bill include rapper Kiloakaskitlz and experimental-leaning rock duo Glassmen. The night closes out with a solid one-two of singer/producer Midas Bison and Madison dance-party staple DJ Boyfrrriend. —Scott Gordon

Drag Queen Story Time. Madison Public Library Pinney Branch, 2:15 p.m.

Bringing back a popular event put on in June to celebrate Pride Month, the Pinney Library and drag performer Miss Gretta host an afternoon of, well, a drag queen reading stories. However, there is an important point to all this—the event actually is aimed at children, though adults are welcome, and these events, first launched in San Francisco, aim to create kid-friendly lessons in embracing diversity and tolerance and celebrating our differences. The afternoon's other activities will include face painting and singing. —Scott Gordon

SUNDAY AUGUST 20

Makeshift Festival. Olbrich Park, 3 p.m. (free)

Summer in Madison brings outdoor music, food, and beer events aplenty, but the inaugural Makeshift Festival aims to add something different to the mix. Organizers have recruited 14 artists to create temporary, site-specific installations for the day, and it's looking like a strong roster. Madisonian Jeremy Wineberg contributed one of the highlights of June's Forge event at the Madison Brass Works, an installation that consisted of a mesmerizing, liquid projection on a pile of sand. Erica Hess, also from Madison, has worked in media ranging from sinuous, wiry sculpture to collections of fabric. Jennifer Bastian is the Madison Bubbler program's current artist-in-residence. Other promising artists involved include the Milwaukee team behind the Warming Hive project and the textile-centered, New Mexico-based Dakota Mace. Food and drink are part of the equation here, with offerings from restaurants from Madison, Minneapolis, Chicago, Duluth, Milwaukee, and Dubuque. There's no music at Makeshift, but that's not a problem—as nice as all the outdoor music is during a Madison summer, it's refreshing for an event to take another approach to transforming public space. Organizers say they plan to change Makeshift's location each year. —Scott Gordon

WEDNESDAY AUGUST 23

Elysia Crampton, Louise Bock. Gates of Heaven, 7 p.m.

Virginia-based producer Elysia Crampton moves experimental electronic music forward through starkly contrasting textures of silvery ambience and tumultuous beat-based passages. Often quoting rhythms and styles of Latin American folk and popular musics, Crampton situates these entrenched traditions within her own innovative production style. She seems to come up with a new interpretation of these influences on each track—one heavily weighted by heritage, technological mutation, and personal bearing. Crampton openly dedicates her music to various historical figures and personal heros, tying her music to her Aymara-Bolivian ancestry. On her 2016 release Elysia Crampton Presents: Demon City (which includes collaborations with Rabit, Chino Amobi, Lexxi, and Why Be), Crampton acknowledges indigenous Aymara martyr Bartolina Sisa, in her track “After Woman.” Similarly, she dedicates her latest project, this year's Spots Y Escupitajo, to an Aymara gender non-conforming god, as well as her departed grandparents. Sonically, Crampton's music is all over the map. A clamorous cumbia track might follow an airy remix of R&B, and an ethereal piano line might be coupled with thundering sound effects over a beat grounded in Andean rhythms. Multi-instrumentalist Taralie Peterson (of Spires That In The Sunset Rise) opens the night with otherworldly, enchanting sound exploration under her solo moniker Louise Bock. —Emili Earhart