Madison calendar, May 26 through June 1

WebsterX, Frandutopia, Icarus Himself, Lita Ford, and more events of note in Madison this week. | By Scott Gordon, Chris Lay, Joel Shanahan

WebsterX plays May 27 at the High Noon Saloon.

WebsterX plays May 27 at the High Noon Saloon.

Sponsor message: The weekly Tone Madison calendar is made possible with support from Union Cab of Madison, a worker-owned cooperative providing safe and professional taxi services.
608-242-2000 | @unioncabcoop

THURSDAY MAY 26

Kweku Collins, Boathouse, Dannylions, Lucien Parker, LilChief. Lothlorien Co-op, 9 p.m.

Rapper and producer Kweku Collins’ flow comes across as amiable and disarming even as he ambitiously melts together styles from across hip-hop’s continuum. On “Nat’s Intro,” which opens the new Nat Love EP, the 19-year-old Evanston native talks about listening to Future (and cheekily borrows some familiar Future vocal tics), but does it in a reflective, warm context, and somehow makes it feel unselfconscious and natural. On another standout track, “Ghost,” Collins spins a vivid yet artfully vague lyric that could be about a death, a lost relationship, or just about anything else—but the point is that it’s absorbing, and Collins knows how to wield his eclectic palette in mature and focused songs. —Scott Gordon

FRIDAY MAY 27

WebsterX, Trapo, Mic Kellogg. High Noon Saloon, 9:30 p.m.

For the past few years, Milwaukee-based emcee and New Age Narcissism crew member WebsterX has been developing intense, wandering, and heavily effective bars that dance across beautifully curated musical backdrops. On recent tracks, he’s paired up with the likes of Madison’s own Chants and—most recently—Q The Sun, who find a meeting point between the tasteful, bass-powered spaciousness you might hear in a 40 production and something a bit fringier, more playful, and psychedelic. On last year’s Radiohead-inspired KIdX EP, WebsterX and Q The Sun concoct an enveloping and surreal atmosphere that takes sharp turns from plane to plane. “Everything” bounces from swirling and euphoric downtempo hip-hop to a double-time pop movement with WebsterX’s hypnotically repetitive hook—”I have rose into this I have rose.” Make sure to get there in time for an opening set from 18-year-old Madison native Trapo, a rapper and singer who’s been breaking out lately behind two inventive and conceptually driven EPs, last year’s Black Beverly Hills and this year’s She. —JS

Purgatorio. Madison Public Library Hawthorne Branch, 7 p.m. (free)

With the presumptive Republican nominee hanging so many planks of his caustic platform on a wall between the US and Mexico, it’s high time to maybe take a look at the wall we have and the effects that it’s had on the socio-cultural geography that it divides. It turns out that there’s a lot of beauty to be found in the structure that cuts between our countries but that beauty, captured in Rodrigo Reyes’ 2013 documentary Purgatorio: A Journey Into The Heart Of The Border, is only superficial geometry, a cunning trick of the cinematographer’s lens. Using short glimpses and staccato stories, both Mexican and American, the film creates a patchwork quilt that is more than the sum of its narrative parts. For anyone interested in putting a face to the people who live in the communities that lie along the border wall as it stands now, Purgatorio will take you closer than you’ve ever been before. Shown in original language, with English subtitles as needed, and refreshments to help you wash down the Southwest’s sandy grit. —Chris Lay

Lita Ford. Brat Fest Ho Chunk Grand Stage at Alliant Energy Center, 8 p.m. (free)

After an IBS-triggering legacy (and that's before we get to the food products) of headliners that include Poison’s chief weenis Bret Michaels and Creed yarl-er Scott Stapp, we weren’t sure if Brat Fest’s music-booking team could scrape any deeper into the bottom of the barrel for this year’s line-up. And, you know what? They didn’t. That probably says more about Brat Fest than it does about ex-Runaways guitarist and pop-metal icon Lita Ford, but we’ll take what we can get. However, let’s not throw any shade at Ford. One thing we can say for certain about the Los Angeles-based songwriter and shred veteran is that she’s no shapeshifter. On a classic proto-punk anthem like Runaways’ “Cherry Bomb,” Ford’s stomping riffs and nasty guitar solo set the pace for the next 40 years of her leather-powered pop-metal career, which ended up peaking in relevance with 1988’s Lita, which featured a massive power-ballad duet with Ozzy Osborne in “Close My Eyes Forever.” Despite failing to recapture the massive success, of that tune or the fact that a lot of her music sounds firmly sewn into the era of corn-dog hair metal from which it came, there’s still something undeniably genuine in the fact that neither Ford nor her massive voice have really changed over the years. —Joel Shanahan

Indigenous: Ben Ferris Quintet. Central Library, 7:30 p.m. (free)

As we’ve said before, the Indigenous series gives local and regional jazz artists an unusual chance to take a proper headlining spot and stretch out on original compositions and improvisations. And Ben Ferris is a great example of the kind of person who deserves such an opportunity: The young, Richard Davis-trained bassist leads two groups of his own, plays in at least five other bands around town, and works extensively as a music teacher. His quintet plays a lot of humble gigs like happy hours at the Rathskeller, and showcases a lot of the talent that quietly dwells here in Madison, namely trumpeter Paul Dietrich, sax player Nicholas Bartell, pianist Paul Hastil, and drummer Miguel McQuade. You can expect to hear original compositions from several band members at this show. —SG

WisCon. Madison Concourse Hotel, through May 30, see link for full details.

Over the years, people hearing about Madison’s long-running WisCon gathering for the first time have scratched their heads at the notion of a “feminist sci-fi convention.” But it actually makes perfect sense when you combine the canonical contributions of authors like Ursula Le Guin and Octavia Butler, more recent standout SF authors including Seanan McGuire and Carola Dibbell, the genre’s potential to push the boundaries of social norms, and its simultaneous historical association with less-than-progressive folks. This year’s WisCon features the usual slate of author talks and panels, and welcomes three working authors as guests of honor: Justine Larbalestier, Nalo Hopkinson, and Sofia Samatar. —SG

Icarus Himself, The Heart Pills. Mickey’s Tavern, 10:30 p.m. (free)

Madisonian folk-pop weirdos Icarus Himself came a long way from being vocalist-guitarist Nick Whetro’s solo endeavor in the mid-aughts to becoming a full-on band and dropping the meticulously crafted album Career Culture back in 2011. With the increased roles of baritone guitarist Karl Christenson, drummer Brad Kolberg (both of mutant prankster-punk outfit Cribshitter), and third guitarist Ricky Reimer, Whetro gradually seemed to become more comfortable with himself, as his reserved and breathy vocals gave way to wails of confidence. For a linchpin band that used to seemingly play every week, it’s been a quiet few years for Icarus Himself, and this show will serve as their curtain call, as Whetro is about to move to Iowa City. We’ll certainly miss seeing these guys hammer through slanted rocker “Anywhere With You” or jam through the infectiously restrained “Digging Holes” from 2010’s super-solid Mexico EP, but we’re stoked to see what everyone goes on to do next. Thanks, guys. —JS

The Midwest Beat, Shantih Shantih, Tarpaulin, Heather The Jerk. Williamson Magnetic Recording Company, 8 p.m.

SATURDAY MAY 28

Mr. Jackson, Tippy, Lanier Burton. Ritual Barbers, 8 p.m.

Madison native Ethan Jackson, aka Mr. Jackson, crafts R&B songs with synths, drum samples, and catchy but endearingly odd vocal melodies. We loved his 2014 debut album The Golden Hour Groove Session for its playful, funky positivity, and now he’s ready to follow it up with a new full-length, Black Gandalf, whose release he’ll celebrate at this show. Jackson talked with us about the new album on our most recent podcast episode. —SG

Trophy Dad, Adult Mom, Forth Wanderers, Gran. Williamson Magnetic Recording Company, 8 p.m.

SUNDAY MAY 29

Frandutopia Stories. Bartell Theatre, 8 p.m. (through June 4)

Last year we ran a long feature on local comedian and pint-sized pinball Frandu in advance of his week-long Bartell residency of shows that he was calling “Frandutopia Stories”. Those shows were a grab bag of local color, opening with comedians and musicians before the main event of Frandu himself taking the stage to share the humorous life-lessons he’s gleaned over the course of his time on earth so far. It appears that these Frandutopia Stories will be an annual event for the time being. —CL

Fishbone, Andy Frasco, Downtown Brown. High Noon Saloon, 8 p.m.

Perhaps best known to some as the band who wrote the song “Lyin’ Ass Bitch,” which The Roots gleefully played as Michelle Bachman obliviously waltzed on to the set of The Tonight Show back in 2011, Los Angeles funk-punk legends Fishbone have been cranking out powerful, conscious, and genre-smashing records since 1985’s self-titled EP. Currently, the band still boasts three original members in batshit vocalist and multi-instrumentalist Angelo “Dr. Madd Vibe” Moore, bass acrobat John Norwood Fisher, and trumpeter “Dirty” Walter Kibby. Fishbone’s activity has slowed considerably over the years. Their last release was 2014’s Intrinsically Intertwined EP, an animated collection that bounced between the cosmic groove of “Interdependent,” the power-pop leanings of “Bustin’ Suds,” and the classically frantic goof-punk anthem “Kung Fu Grip,” which features some maniacally quick bass runs from Fisher. —JS

TUESDAY MAY 31

The Tallest Man On Earth, Basia Bulat. Barrymore, 8 p.m.

WEDNESDAY JUNE 1

Lifestyles, No Hoax, The Momotaros. Mickey’s Tavern, 10:30 p.m. (free)