Rooftop Cinema, The Frequency's 7th anniversary, Day Creeper, and more of the best stuff in Madison this week. | By Scott Gordon and Chris Lay
Apart from both releases having cover art that might have you worriedly typing “orange skin/fevered expression" into WebMD, Madison band Dolores' new full-length Peach Fuzz just hits differently than the band's 2014 Nectar Fields EP. The band's playful, psych-brushed pop sounds more confident and propulsive here, thanks in part to the nimble bass lines that consistently offer a nice counterpoint to the band's bubbly melodies, starting with “Oh No." Dolores are also sounding more confident in their approach to arrangements, especially on “Mary," a swinging rock number with a blissfully fluttering synth solo in the middle. Just a couple weeks out from the release of Peach Fuzz, Dolores opens up here for Chicago's Ne-Hi.
There really aren't enough proper showcases in town for Madison-based comedians. Sure, there has been a real comfy rise in the number of open mics lately, but those are places where you take some chances and toss stuff against the wall, as opposed to working out the cream of your joke crop with larger audiences that are not comprised primarily of other local comics. Thankfully, Mickey's Tavern is taking a shot at filling that void with the Moonlight Over Madison Comedy Showcase, hosted by Lauren Cahillane, which kicks off its first ever show featuring local comedians Gena Gephart, Brandon Ream, Shawn Vasquez, Lisan Wood, Esteban Touma, and Colin Bowden. Depending on how the first event goes, Mickey's might turn the showcase into a regular thing.
Michael Perry wears the everyman-Wisconsinite-writer thing so effortlessly that it's easy to take him for granted. But between his self-deprecating Wisconsin State Journal columns, his current role as “narrator" for the upcoming Eaux Claires music fest, and his all-around affectionate devotion to his home state, Perry's also a fiercely talented writer—if you haven't at least cracked his 2002 memoir Population 485, you're missing out on a prose style that's got some fine, devastating muscle under the folksy wisecracks. Perry's in town this week, though, to share his first work of fiction, The Jesus Cow, a comic novel that centers around a calf born with the image of Jesus Christ on it. Perry will also be reading from The Jesus Cow on June 10 at the Central Library.
Stanley Kubrick's 1962 adaptation of Vladimir Nabokov's Lolita, about a man lusting for a young girl—well, 16 in the film adaptation, just one of many ways in which Kubrick had to tame the story to get the film made. Read more about it in Bianca Martin's preview this week.
FRIDAY JUNE 5
When musician and booker Darwin Sampson opened The Frequency in spring of 2008, it immediately began to fill a much-needed role as a small club, downtown, with a good sound system and an openness to local performers, packing a variety of local bands into a busy schedule, hosting Clyde Stubblefield's Funky Mondays gig until Stubblefield hung it up, and even opening its doors to non-music experiments like stand-up comedy showcases, the Dan Potacke Show (RIP?) and The Bricks Theatre's debut production. Over the past few years it's become a little more focused on touring acts booked by Madison's bigger promoters, but still leaves space for local and regional acts, and remains a solid, congenial place to see a show. This weekend The Frequency celebrates its 7th anniversary with two nights of music. On Friday, it's a hip-hop bill headlined by the Madison-connected but seemingly always on the move MC F. Stokes, whose recent A Princess Named Leroy EP celebrates his love of stamping, earnest '80s hip-hop, with some production assists from fellow former Madisonian Man Mantis. On Saturday things are more rock-oriented, with sets from bands including Madisonians I Am Dragon and 4 Aspirin Morning.
MMOCA's Rooftop Cinema program kicks off its 10th anniversary season with a night of four experimental short films that play with language—a good example of Rooftop's characteristic balance of avant-garde exploration and accessible whimsy. British filmmaker John Smith is represented twice, with 1975's Associations mining visual puns from the ambiguities of English, and 1992's Gargantuan using voice-over and footage of a small lizard to explore the concept of size. American artist Kerry Laitala's 1998 film Test uses found footage from a knowledge-test film Laitala found in an abandoned movie house. Robert Nelson's 1971 film Bleu Shut uses experimental film techniques to riff on the concept of boat names.
Madison trio Paint has had an all too brief existence, launching in 2012 and saying goodbye (at least for now) at this show before drummer Jake Stamas moves to San Francisco. On last year's Wet Paint EP and a new split cassette with Wood Chickens (who also play at this show, along with frenzied rockabilly howlers The Tea Heads), Stamas, guitarist Alex Hickel, and bassist/singer Joe Darcy strike a balance between furious yet good-natured punk songs and slow-building, dynamic, brooding ones. Paint are a good example of how much personality and spirit a band can fit into a bare-bones punk-rock structure, so it's worth taking advantage of this last chance to see them.
Between Madison Storytellers and Madison Story Slam, there's been marked uptick in high quality monthly storytelling shows in Madison, which is good for everyone. The theme for this Madison Storyteller event is “The Last Time I Ever," so expect a well-curated mix of wistfulness and optimism from the folks stepping up to the mic. As always, anyone can sign up. Forequarter will be providing craft cocktails (aka tasty-booze) for pinky-out people who want to get buzzed in a public library and see how the other half lives.
SATURDAY JUNE 6
At this show, Madison band Tyranny Is Tyranny's celebrates the recent vinyl release of its second album, The Rise Of Disaster Capitalism (named for the subtitle of Naomi Klein's book The Shock Doctrine). We recently commented on the album as a whole (with some friendship disclaimers) when debuting the track “Pillar Of Cloud, Pillar Of Fire," but suffice it to say that it takes the band's heavy post-rock in a direction that's gorgeously bleak and resists classification more than ever. On this bill, the expansive song structures of Tyranny and Madisonian post-metal outfit Bereft are balanced with the concise, gunk-churning noise rock of Volunteer. The Milwaukee band's 2014 EP Goner sounds epically, commandingly filthy even on a cover of Jawbreaker's “I Love You So Much It's Killing Us Both."
SUNDAY JUNE 7
This bill at the Wisco brings together five different takes on grimy metal and punk. Chicago band Relentless reach back to early doom and thrash, under Carlee Jackson's melodic but tough vocals, and play here ahead of the release of a new album, Night Terrors. Ottawa's Zex lean more toward bouncy, anthemic proto-punk, complete with melodic, glammed-up guitar leads, on last year's album Fight For Yourself. Representing Wisconsin here are crusty Oshkosh thrash outfit, Madison instrumental doom duo Emerald Douglas, and Madison's Tubal Cain, a gratifyingly nasty new black-metal outfit formed by former Antiprism members Kristine and Alex Drake.
MONDAY JUNE 8
WUD Films' “Planes, Trains & Automobiles"-themed Lakeside Cinema showcase picks up a little extra momentum (har har) with Alfred Hitchcock's 1959 Cary Grant-starring cross-country-chase classic North By Northwest. The perfect balance of effortlessly timeless visual cool, tightly wound popcorn-munching suspense, and one jaw-dropping set-piece after another, North By Northwest is arguably the clear-cut critical peak of a series that's already overstuffed with some great upcoming features (apologies to Con Air, coming up in August).
TUESDAY JUNE 9
Formerly Milwaukee- and now Ohio-based band Enabler has spent the past six years threading a diverse range of metal and hardcore styles through an overpowering, raining-shrapnel aesthetic, with the lineup frequently changing around guitarist/vocalist Jeff Lohrber. The band recently put out a new single, “By Demons Denied," ahead of the planned summer release of their second album for Century Media, Fail To Feel Safe, and even this one song shows you how much Enabler likes to switch it up, with the initial verses and wiry guitar hook evoking one of Trap Them's more straight-ahead songs, but a conclusion that veers hard into the melodic and mournful. Enabler's tourmates here, NYC's Meek Is Murder, who plow through brief, thrilling hybrids of metal and noise-rock on the new Onward EP and the Kurt Ballou-recorded albums Everything Is Awesome, Nothing Matters (2013) and Algorithms (2011). Make sure to arrive in time for a set from mighty Wisconsin hardcore/metal/prog explorers Poney.
Columbus, Ohio's Day Creeper surfaces its power-pop with a bit of rust and grit—and just a tinge of twisted volatility—but that only helps to throw the hooks into sharper relief. On the band's new Central States LP, the vocal melodies are charmingly half-buried, except when a bright harmony cuts through, and standouts like “Luxury Condominium" and “Eyes Of Madness" come through with a rare balance of sweetness and snarl.
WEDNESDAY JUNE 10
Death Blues, a now four-year-old project led by Milwaukee drummer Jon Mueller (Pele, Collections Of Colonies Of Bees, Volcano Choir, and a host of challenging solo projects), comes to its end at this Shitty Barn show. Mueller started the project to explore concepts surrounding the inevitability of death and the importance of being present in each moment, and in a few short years this idea has spawned a variety of musical collaborations, live performances, video, and written material. This culminated in two albums released last year: The orchestral arrangements and emotional bold strokes of Ensemble, and the more abrasive, but no less engaging, experimentation of Non-Fiction. To bring the (appropriately finite) project to its conclusion, Mueller will perform selections from all four Death Blues releases here, with help from collaborators Marielle Allschwang, Nathaniel Heuer, Jim Warchol, and Ken Palme.