Madison calendar, August 18 through 24

Rooftop Cinema, Big Eyes, Forced Into Femininity, and more events of note in Madison this week. | By Scott Gordon, Chris Lay, Joel Shanahan

Four episodes of Look Around You screen August 19 at the Madison Museum of Contemporary Art.

Four episodes of Look Around You screen August 19 at the Madison Museum of Contemporary Art.

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THURSDAY AUGUST 18

Central Park Sessions: Palenke SoulTribe, Monsieur Periné, Tony Castañeda Latin Jazz Sextet. Central Park, 5 p.m. (free)

Formed in Bogota, Colombia and currently based in LA, Palenke SoulTribe interpret Afro-Caribbean music styles like cumbia through the lens of sleek, driving contemporary electronic music. Onstage, the four-piece combines traditional Afro-Caribbean instrumentation like hand percussion and accordion with a modern rhythm section and a live-wrangled array of synths and samples. Fellow Colombians Monsieur Periné depart from the "mixing x traditional music style with modern influences" thing that tends to predominate in Madison's summer-music offerings: Instead they've gone back in time to create a refreshing and distinctly Latin twist on gypsy jazz. —Scott Gordon

Neal Brennan. Majestic, 7:30 p.m.

Neal Brennan made a name for himself as the co-creator and co-writer of Comedy Central’s now-legendary Chappelle's Show. He’s stayed pretty busy in the decade since that program’s unceremonious ending, most notably as the co-host of the podcast The Champs with Moshe Kasher, but also as a nationally touring stand-up. Over the last year or so he’s been perfecting a Frankenstein hybrid of a show format, “Three Mics,” which alternatingly presents traditional stand-up, one-liners, and short confessional monologues into three separate microphones on stage. It’s one of those genius things that seems so obvious now that it’s out there, but no one was really doing this up until now, and Brennan’s naturally dry stage presence combined with his talent at each of these disparate performative structures prepares him well to pull something like this off. —Chris Lay

Bad Cinema: R.O.T.O.R. Central Library, 6:30 p.m. (free)

While we here at Tone Madison are huge proponents of Mystery Science Theater 3000 and Rifftrax, we still think it’s sometimes good to watch an atrocious film without the comfort of commentary. Disgraced director Cullen Blaine’s 1989 sci-fi disaster R.O.T.O.R. is no exception. This no-budget knockoff of The Terminator features Carroll Brandon Baker in his sole acting role as R.O.T.O.R.—or Robotic Officer of Tactical Operations Research—an unfinished police robot prototype (with an unflattering mustache) who terrorizes civilians after he’s prematurely activated by a corrupt police commander. Get ready for beautifully stiff acting chops, abysmal dialogue, and some chairs getting kicked around for no apparent reason. —Joel Shanahan

Ricky Velez. Comedy Club on State, through August 20, see link for all showtimes.

It hasn’t even been two months since Ricky Velez last graced Madison with his presence, but I guess his spot back in June as one of the many openers for Pete Davidson at the Barrymore back in June wasn’t exactly the main focus of that show. That said, he was one of the standouts of Pete’s posse, just as he was a standout on Comedy Central’s soon-to-be-dearly-departed The Nightly Show with Larry Wilmore, where he was a writer and performer whose energy kicked more than a few of those panel discussions into a higher gear. I wouldn’t expect the tightest shows from him this weekend, based on both his set in June and shows I’ve seen from stylistically similar working NYC writer / performers (looking at you, Kurt Metzger), but it should pay off anyway. Mike Paramore features and Madison’s own Colin Bowden hosts.—CL

Vintage Arcade Night. Johnson Public House, 5 p.m. (free + quarters)

Madison doesn't yet have one of those grown-up arcade-meets-bar places that have been popping up in other cities (even Kenosha!), but Johnson Public House attempts to fill the void for one night here. Aftershock Retrogames, which supplies vintage arcade cabinets and pinball machines to various spots around town, will supply the games, and JPH will be serving drinks alongside pizza slices from Sal's. Aftershock's Brad Van says the games on hand will include Pac-Man, Joust, Qbert, Arkanoid, Satan's Hollow, Indiana Jones And The Temple Of Doom, Contra, Double Dragon, Zaxxon, and Frogger. —SG

FRIDAY AUGUST 19

Forced Into Femininity, Lorene Boboushian, Listening Woman, Tar Pet, Christine Olson. Arts + Literature Laboratory, 7:30 p.m.

Chicago-based experimentalist, performance artist, and former Coughs saxophonist Jill Lloyd Flanagan has spent the last several years crafting immersive, bizarre, and challenging electronic no-wave vignettes under the name Forced Into Femininity. On 2015’s Erase Your Grave, Flanagan’s political and thoughtfully uncompromising lyrics are wailed over a backdrop of glitchy and chaotic rhythms, dizzying sequences, and abrasive samples. Flanagan is known for her intense, flailing live performances, which teeter on the line between heavily confrontational and undeniably fun. —JS

Rooftop Cinema: Look Around You. Madison Museum of Contemporary Art, 8:30 p.m.

This year's Rooftop Cinema season wraps up with four segments from the early-2000s British comedy series Look Around You. At once packed with absurdity and dry as twice-dried toast in a dryer, Look Around You parodies educational films with a series of misleading and bizarre science lessons. They feel realistic in their clumsy attempts to appeal to the "student's" sense of wonder, but its brilliance is in peppering the narration with a seemingly endless array of nonsense terms (in the "Brain" episode, we're introduced to a region of the brain called the "broab") and nonchalantly demented statements ("It's a different sort of moth to one you might enjoy in a sandwich"). —SG

Wilco, Kurt Vile And The Violators. Breese Stevens Field, 6 pm.

There's a lot worth cherishing about Wilco, who play here ahead of the new album Schmilco (featuring cover art from the gleefully deviant Joan Cornellá), and it's worth catching any live act that wields avant-jazz guitar giant Nels Cline. But chances are you've made up your mind about whether you're going to this big outdoor show, so a word for the opener, Kurt Vile and his band The Violators. Over the past 10 years the Philadelphia artist has evolved from endearing bedroom-pop experiments to a distinctive and discursive persona as a singer-songwriter. On his past three albums—2011's Smoke Ring For My Halo, 2013's Wakin On A Pretty Daze, and 2015's B'lieve I'm Goin Down—Vile might often sound mellow and offhand (sometimes too much so—looking at you, Pretty Daze). But there's a real sense of vulnerability and feeling out of place in songs like B'lieve's spare, rambling "Wheelhouse" and Smoke Ring's ominous "Society Is My Friend." —SG

SATURDAY AUGUST 20

Big Eyes, Fire Retarded, Dumb Vision. Mickey's Tavern, 10 p.m. (free)

New York City band Big Eyes' new album, Stake My Claim, serves as a reminder that you can have unabashedly big hooks and unabashedly tough punk-rock in the same package without lapsing into doofy pop-punk clichés. That's because guitarist/vocalist/songwriter Kait Eldridge pours so much detail and style into these songs, from the little minor-chord wince in the verse of "When You Were 25" to the sudden jangly conclusion of the brief "The Curse Of The Tides" to the stormy bridge of "Count The Pegs." The band plow sthrough these songs with conviction and dynamics, and Eldridge's strong vocal melodies keep it all tightly pinned together. —SG

Driveway Thriftdwellers, Christopher Gold. Frequency, 6:30 p.m.

Madison/Milwaukee country outfit Driveway Thriftdwellers play here to celebrate the release of their first album, Cutover Country. The 11 originals here draw on rugged, straightforward country songwriting, but there's a gentle sadness lurking in the group's vocal harmonies and Ryan Knudson's pedal steel. All five members sing, which gives the harmonies a nice high-to-baritone spread, especially on the wistful "Long Long Winter." Elsewhere they're a bit more playful, as on the laid-back "Northern Accent" and the brisk honky-tonk number "Dernt Dernt Dernt." All in all, it's a versatile but easy-to-digest contribution to Madison's country offerings. —SG

SUNDAY AUGUST 21

"Weird Al" Yankovic. Overture Hall, 8 p.m.

If "Weird Al" Yankovic didn’t already exist, the universe would surely be required to invent him. Between his dozens of pitch-perfect song parodies —which were some of the smartest things to be found on MTV in the 1980s and '90s—his certifiably insane feature film UHF, and 2014’s excellent album Mandatory Fun, I honestly can’t imagine that anyone is unaware of what a true American treasure this man is. To give you an idea of his breadth of output and rabid fanbase, we already devoted a whole article earlier this week to his album cuts and folks responded with a grip of other great suggestions in the Facebook comments. Add in the fact that Yankovic's stage show builds in multiple costume changes and non-stop energy, and this is a slam-dunk you should get to if you can. —CL

MONDAY AUGUST 22

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

TUESDAY AUGUST 23

Andy McKee, Owen Campbell. High Noon Saloon, 8 p.m.

To many folks, Topeka, Kansas-based acoustic guitarist and former YouTube sensation Andy McKee has been running victory laps around that video for his impressively technical and surprisingly tasteful reworking of Toto’s “Africa,” which tapped into the essence of the tune’s rhythm, chords, and vocal melodies simultaneously in a clever, finger-style adaptation for one guitar. It’s also worth noting that during McKee’s surge in popularity, scores of metalcore, third-wave emo, and even indie-rock bands were in a race to see who could write the most pointlessly technical guitar riffs and attempted to add new context and semi-mainstream allure to guitar techniques—like sweep-picking and finger-tapping—that were once reserved for prog-rockers, hair-metal wanks, and Scandinavian power-metal bands singing about lowering drawbridges and slaying dragons. And hey, for a while, it was easy to get swept up in the showmanship and forget about how this new focus on technicality neglected things like feelings. In McKee’s case, the gorgeous chord voicings and melodies of “Drifting” and the tap-happy ballad “Into The Ocean” kind of proved that you could deliberately craft something stupidly technical without draining it of emotional content. McKee is currently touring behind this year’s live album Live Book. —JS

WEDNESDAY AUGUST 24

Neiv, Brilliant Beasts, The Momotaros, Post Social. Mickey's Tavern, 10 p.m. (free)

Neiv is a trio from northern Italy whose most recent album, 2015's Lightless, offers a particularly eerie, spacious, and slow-paced take on shoegaze. "Light, Make It Real" hovers between reassuring melody and creepy dissonance, never quite reaching a climactic outburst but instead shifting through different arrangements of synth pads and delayed guitar. Other standouts, like "Drooga" and "Everything," are built around sparse, ringing guitar phrases and the band's alternately cavernous and ethereal vocals. The familiar elements of shoegaze and goth-rock are present throughout, but Neiv patiently and resourcefully twist them into darkly beautiful songs. —SG