Madison calendar, February 18 through 24

Lizzo, Noura Mint Seymali, Jon Ronson, and more events of note in Madison this week. | By Chris Lay, Scott Gordon, Joel Shanahan

Lizzo plays February 19 at the Majestic. Photo by Garrett Born.

Lizzo plays February 19 at the Majestic. Photo by Garrett Born.

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THURSDAY FEBRUARY 18

El Ten Eleven, Shallou, Neens. Majestic, 9 p.m.

Southern California duo El Ten Eleven, formed in 2002, pursue a more sleek and compact sound than most instrumental-rock outfits. Bassist/guitarist Kristian Dunn and drummer Tim Fogarty use their share of loops to build up their compositions, but are less interested in layering on parts than in teasing out a variety of textures from their instruments, a little at a time. The focus isn’t on building up to a big fraught climax, but rather on the subtle shifts that occur as Fogarty works in some electronic drum pads and Dunn introduces a pleasantly chorus-slathered guitar line, as on “Be Kind, Rewind” from last year’s album Fast Forward. Other standouts from that album, like “We Lost A Giant,” build on El Ten Eleven’s tendency to function as much as an electronic outfit as a rock band. —Scott Gordon


Bad Cinema: LA Street Fighters. Central Library, 6:30 p.m. (free)

What do a high school loaded with students who don’t appear to be a day below 35 years old, a hilariously choppy editing style that makes an entire film feel like a long, horrible preview, and a bunch of street fighters hanging out at a toga party have in common? This is the premium-blend horseshit that makes a trudge through LA. Street Fighters almost completely worthwhile. Woo-sang Park’s 1986 teen-action gang-drama screens here as part of the Madison Public Library’s Bad Cinema series. —Joel Shanahan

FRIDAY FEBRUARY 19

Square One: Niki Kitz, Demetri Nocturnal. Cardinal Bar, 9 p.m.

We have high hopes for Square One, a new dance residency at that will hopefully begin to fill the void left by the dissolution of Tim “Lovecraft" Thompson and Wyatt Agard’s House Of Love residency. Featuring the combined efforts of Madison DJs Lovecraft, Wangzoom, Ashoka, Maze, Carrick, Foundation, and Ginjahvitiz (and trust us, despite his head-spinningly goofy alias, dude can throw down on the decks), the first installment of Square One will feature a couple of our favorite Milwaukeean selectors in deep house vibe-smith Niki Kitz and near 20-year veteran techno DJ and producer Demetri Nocturnal. Be sure to slip into one of Kitz’s lushly immersive mixes or a pummeling Nocturnal mix featuring ominous modern electro and busted-beat techno—we’ve embedded one of each below. —JS

Lizzo, DJ Sophia Eris, Cavanaugh, Me eN You. Majestic, 9 p.m.

Minneapolis MC/singer Lizzo’s second album, Big GRRRL Small World, released in December as a free download on her website, built on the brash excitement of 2013’s Lizzobangers, but more importantly showcased her ever-expanding versatility as a rapper and songwriter. She delivers cutting, propulsive, and at times laugh-out-loud funny verses on tracks like “Betcha” and “Ride,” but pivots to singing fraught, weighty electro-R&B melodies on “My Skin” and “Humanize.” And on “En Love,” she cheekily whiplashes between those two vocal aspects. In addition to Lizzo’s fierce charisma as a live performer, this bill is also stacked with the new Open Mike Eagle-Serengeti collaboration Cavanaugh and Madison’s joyous, unwieldy hip-hop/R&B ensemble Me eN You. —SG


Ming Kurray, Knvte, Queenager, DJ Stamp Collector. Mickey’s Tavern, 10:30 p.m. (free)

Madison producer Jack Pizzo, aka Ming Kurray, may flirt with blurred atmospheres and goofy snatches of hip-hop in his mostly-instrumental electronic music, but his recent self-titled album is also strangely welcoming in its bright synth melodies and spacious, stuttering beats. Pizzo talked with us about the project in an interview this week. Here, he’ll play alongside other artists affiliated with his Imperial Garden Records label, including fellow Madison electronic experimenter Knvte, and local musician Tom Teslik will spin records under his DJ Stamp Collector moniker. —SG


Men In War. Vilas Hall, 7 p.m. (free)

SATURDAY FEBRUARY 20

Noura Mint Seymali. Memorial Union Play Circle, 8 p.m.

Mauritania’s Noura Mint Seymali frames her voice and ardine (a nine-string instrument that is played exclusively by women in the Moorish musical tradition in which Seymali came up) around rhythms that swirl and surge on her 2014 album Tzenni. The album uses elements of funk and pop, but applies them with a light brush, reserving the foreground for the expansive, fluid midrange of Seymali’s vocals. Her ardine engages in a meandering yet taut back-and-forth with husband Jeiche Ould Chighalys’s phrases on electric guitar and tidinit (a West African lute), with bassist Ousmane Touré (bass) and drummer Matthew Tinari grounding it all in hefty and stately grooves. —SG


Fetty Wap, Post Malone. Orpheum, 8 p.m. (sold out)

Now that Fetty Wap seems like a full-on hip-hop fixture, it’s tough to believe that only two years have passed since the Paterson, New Jersey-based crooner-emcee dropped “Trap Queen,” a booming, bass-powered ballad loaded with his signature wailing vocal hooks, gritty lyrics, and of course that wiggling synth melody that punctuates the chorus. It took several months, but the dizzyingly catchy jam sent the rapper flailing into seemingly every mainstream pop, rap, and R’n’B radio station’s heavy rotation across the country and landed him a slot on The Tonight Show for a pretty fucking memorable performance of “Trap Queen” with The Roots backing him up. Wap has since followed the promise of “Trap Queen” with last fall’s self-titled debut album, which is refreshing in that he strayed away from obvious feature snags, and instead featured Monty and—to a lesser extent—M80, a couple of super solid rappers and members of Fetty’s Remy Boyz collective. The two guest MCs fit gracefully into the special space Fetty has carved out for himself, particularly on the euphoric and MIDI-guitar-laden hit “Jugg.” —JS

Spring Night, Summer Night. Vilas Hall, 7 p.m. (free)

SUNDAY FEBRUARY 21

GateSound: Ches Smith Trio, Nestle. Gates of Heaven, 7 p.m.

We at Tone Madison, along with musician and co-curator Rob Lundberg, have been dreaming up a sporadic series of adventurous music at the Gates of Heaven (the small and acoustically immaculate historic synagogue in James Madison Park), and well, here’s the first installment. Drummer Ches Smith has collaborated with artists ranging from latter-day jazz-guitar hero Mary Halvorson to gloriously cracked experimental pop group Xiu Xiu. His latest effort as a bandleader, this year’s The Bell, finds him winding through eerie and slyly enchanting interplay with pianist Craig Taborn and violinist Mat Maneri, both of whom will also join Smith at this show. Opening up is Nestle, an improvisational trio with Lundberg on bass, Cyrus Pireh on guitar, and Ryan Packard on drums. Lundberg shared more thoughts on this show and the GateSound series generally in a post this week. The second installment of GateSound will be on March 31 with Skeletons and Mid Waste. —SG


Greg Abate. Brink Lounge, 3 p.m.

Saxophonist Greg Abate’s long, hard-touring career included a 20-year stint in Ray Charles’ band beginning in the 1970s, but he’s best known for carrying forth a sprightly and harmonically restless style of jazz sax playing. His most recent release, Kindred Spirits, is a live recording made with saxophone giant Phil Woods shortly before Woods’ death in 2015, and it found both players in bright, alert form. Here, Abate will play in a quartet with Madison’s Dave Stoler on piano and Nick Moran on bass, and Milwaukee’s Dave Bayles on drums. —SG


Micro-Wave Cinema: Some Beasts. Vilas Hall, 7 p.m. (free)

Some Beasts, the first feature from Cameron Bruce Nelson, concerns the travails of a ruggedly scruffy guy who’s looking to pull some sort of modern day Walden-style off-the-grid existence in the present-day Appalachian foothills, but he hits a snag when it turns out that it’s a lot more difficult than he imagined it would be. Is there something of a sordid past he’s running from or an ominousness to the mountains themselves? Maybe! As with all the films in the series, there will be a post-screening filmmaker Q&A, with Nelson joining the audience and Micro-Wave curator Brandon Colvin via Skype. The feature will be preceded by Sammy Harkham and Patrick Brice’s short film Hang Loose. —Chris Lay


Heavy Looks, Royal Brat, Jonesies, Heather The Jerk. Williamson Magnetic Recording Company, 8 p.m.

Minneapolis band Royal Brat speeds through five songs of nasty but smartly melodic punk on its 2015 EP Negative Bone. Especially on “Gut,” the band strikes a balance of snarling vocals and amiable guitar hooks, as if it aspires to be a more abrasive Superchunk. Madison band Heavy Looks plays here behind its 2015 album Waste It Right, which is at its best when it emphasizes the wistful, disarming side of the band’s guitar-pop, especially on “Dominoes” and closing track “Packing Heat,” both led by singer-guitarist Rosalind Greiert. This show also features a new solo project from Heather Sawyer of The Hussy, performing here under the name Heather The Jerk, and the acerbically witty new Madison indie-pop trio Jonesies. —SG


Port Of Call. Chazen Museum of Art, 2 p.m. (free)

Ingmar Bergman’s decidedly risqué neorealistic fifth film, 1948’s Port Of Call, is certainly not the kind of thing anyone would ever describe with the phrase “heart-warming,” but so few Bergman films could claim that emotion. Nine-Christine Jönsson stars as an emotionally unstable working-class woman full of equal parts yearning and mommy issues. She ends up hitching her star to the wagon of a judgemental sailor (Bengt Eklund) who says he’s done with the sea. Notable for its frankness about sex and romance, Port Of Call is also the first film to pair Bergman with his longtime cinematographer, Gunnar Fischer. —CL


MONDAY FEBRUARY 22

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

I’ve written lots of calendar items lately about how people should go see Clyde Stubblefield at his now-monthly Funky Mondays gigs. So instead of holding forth on that again, let me just refer you to his recent appearance on The Trap Set, a great podcast about drummers. The episode consists of a wide-ranging half-hour interview that spans Stubblefield’s early years, his time playing with James Brown, and his more recent activities in Madison. –SG

TUESDAY FEBRUARY 23

Jon Ronson. Union Theater, 7:30 p.m. (free)

While the phrase “gonzo journalism” might bring to mind the explosive and often drug-addled works of Hunter S. Thompson, Lester Bangs, and Norman Mailer, on the other side of that coin you have folks like Tom Wolfe, George Plimpton, and Welsh-born author, filmmaker, and broadcaster Jon Ronson. Ronson, visiting here as part of the Distinguished Lecture Series, has a knack for embedding himself in some of the weirdest possible situations while chasing down some of the most outlandish stories. His wonderfully charming “idiot abroad” schtick has endeared him to groups as disparate as the KKK, The Bilderberg Group, the lady who tweeted "Going to Africa. Hope I don’t get AIDS. Just Kidding. I’m white!", and a half dozen run-of-the-mill psychopaths. His reporting has yielded several excellent books, including 2015’s meditation on Internet outrage, So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed, and 2001’s simultaneously zany and harrowing Them: Adventures With Extremists. If you’ve heard any of Ronson’s many appearances on This American Life, you’re aware that he’s a relatable everyman of a storyteller, so expect some good yarns and an entertaining Q&A afterwards. —CL


Super Serious Songwriter Series: Bobby Hussy. Mickey’s Tavern, 10:30 p.m. (free)

WEDNESDAY FEBRUARY 24

Nerd Nite. High Noon Saloon, 8 p.m. (free)

Nerd Nite Madison presents monthly evenings of informal talks that essentially offer dressed-down side excursions into the presenters’ passions and obsessions—often related to their academic work, but just as often not. This month’s three presentations will include Julie Collins discussing the many social connections that Emily Dickinson cultivated despite her reclusive reputation, and Madison attorney Scott Thompson delving into the finer points of suing somebody. As usual, we’ll be recording the talks for our monthly Tone Madison/Nerd Nite audio segments. —SG