Need motivation to get through another dreaded week at your soul-sucking job? There’s no shortage of cool stuff to do in Madison… it’s just figuring out which cool stuff best suits you. Here’s what Madison is doing this week.
Monday, July 1, The Sylvee (info)
Despite their status as godfathers of California punk, Bad Religion’s roots are sorta Wisconsin. Frontman Greg Graffin was born in Madison and spent time in Racine and Milwaukee before moving to the Golden State. Now, Dr. Graffin (he has a doctorate from Cornell in history of science) and his Bad Religion bandmates are true icons. Their leftist melodic punk helped to inspire an entire generation of bands to form and countless punks to pick up a dictionary and look up what the hell “jurisprudence” means. With the punked-up heartland rock of Dave Hause & The Mermaid.
‘Stand by Me’
Monday, July 1, Memorial Union Terrace (info)
Wanna see a dead body? Then head down to the Terrace to catch one of the all-time great coming of age tales. Based on a short story by Stephen King, the 1986 film follows a group of teenage pals in 1950s Oregon who go into the woods to find the remains of a deceased kid. Look for a pre-Lost Boys Kiefer Sutherland as the boys’ bully.
Tuesday, July 2 through Sunday, July 7, Milwaukee (info)
After a much-earned day off, Summerfest returns with another packed slate of artists. This week includes Jennifer Lopez, The Killers, Death Cab for Cutie, Billie Eilish, Lil Wayne, Snoop Dogg, CHVRCHES, Courtney Barnett and The Roots.
Concerts on the Square: Independence Day Celebration
Wednesday, July 3, King Street corner of Capitol Square (info)
Guest director Peter Rubardt will lead the Wisconsin Chamber Orchestra through a series of patriotic standards. Pieces by Gershwin, Beckel, Bagley and Tchaikovsky will all be featured in this classical celebration of ’Murica. For his part, Rubardt is a musical journeyman who has conducted orchestras all over the country. The Berkeley, California native also has a doctorate in Orchestral Conducting from Julliard. So that’s one thing he has in common with Bad Religion’s Greg Graffin.
Wednesday, July 3, High Noon Saloon (info)
With Prince Rogers Nelson having ascended to a higher plane of existence, Sean Tillmann — aka Har Mar Superstar — is now the most soulful weirdo in the Twin Cities. As Heart Bones, Tillmann partners with noted howler Sabrina Ellis of A Giant Dog. Together they recall the best duos of AM Gold, albeit with their own irreverence injected. In February, they performed the Dirty Dancing soundtrack in Minneapolis. This sounds like a good time, especially considering the opener is Good Fuck, the latest musical experiment from Midwest emo legend Tim Kinsella.
Wednesday, July 3, The Shitty Barn, Spring Green (info)
Andy Shauf makes music that hangs like a sonic fog. The Canadian artist behind the band Foxwarren crafts lush indie rock that seeps into every open space it comes in contact with. It’s painstakingly crafted work, so it makes total sense that, despite being a band for 10+ years, Foxwarren didn’t release their first album until last year. But in that decade, Shauf and his Foxwarren bandmates built a musical language and communication that is almost unparalleled. Singer and songwriter Hannah Cohen opens.
‘Stranger Than Paradise’
Thursday, July 4, Cinematheque (info)
Throughout his career, independent film icon Jim Jarmusch has had great success working with musicians, from Tom Waits to Wu-Tang’s RZA. In 1984’s Stranger Than Paradise, two of Jarmusch’s three leads are played by jazz musician (and Twitter god) John Lurie and former Sonic Youth drummer Richard Edson. In it, the two and Lurie’s character’s Hungarian cousin drift through life in 1980s New York. It’s dreary, deadpan and a must-see for all cinephiles.
Friday, July 5, High Noon Saloon (info)
Shove it, Jay Farrar and Jeff Tweedy. When it came time to name the best artist of the 1990s, alt-country bible No Depression — a magazine named after an Uncle Tupelo song — chose Alejandro Escovedo. It’s an inspired choice, too. Before striking out on his own, Escovedo led the influential cowpunk band Rank and File. But since the late ’80s, he’s built a solo career on those same rootsy ethos with a shot of chicano rock for good measure. He’ll be joined here by Celtic-inclined folk punk Casey Neill and his band The Norway Rats.
The Mattson 2
Friday, July 5, The Winnebago (info)
As a longtime fan of Oasis, it’s always nice to see a band of brothers that hasn’t imploded into potato-related insults. Identical twins Jared and Jonathan Mattson — The Mattson 2 — play a contemporary take on jazz that draws from elements of atmospheric rock and primal rhythm, resulting in mesmerizing live show. Also appearing is Kainalu, a project that sees Madison musician Trent Prall delivering a psychedelic indie rock that draws heavily from his Japanese Hawaiian heritage.
Friday, July 5, The Wisco (info)
Madison’s favorite I.T. themed punks (well, Madison’s only I.T. themed punks) are putting on a show to help you sweat out that post-Fourth hangover. And with Help Desk are some seriously talented bands from around the Midwest. Chicago’s Dead Rest will bring their high-energy live set to town, as will Freeport, Ill.’s spectacularly named Flaccid Pickle. Rounding things out is the punk metal of Madison’s own Midnight GraveDiggers.
The Gran Fury
Friday, July 5, Mickey’s Tavern (info)
For this show, the local scene’s OGs will be out in full force. Long-running power trio The Gran Fury will headline, bringing their signature psychedelic hard rock. Post-stoner-rock shredders Our Friends, the Savages will also appear. And rounding things out is the first Madison show of the noisy, drum machine driven slowcore duo Daughters of Saint Crispin, featuring ex-members of Tyranny is Tyranny and Droids Attack.
Friday and Saturday, July 5-6, Comedy on State (info)
To call him simply Chris Farley’s brother would be glossing over the work Kevin Farley’s been doing over the past few decades. In addition to his “uncle after a couple cold ones” vibe on stage, Kevin has appeared in dozens of films and TV shows, including Black Sheep, The Waterboy, Curb Your Enthusiasm and MTV’s 2ge+her. Here, the seasoned stand-up will headline two nights in his hometown. Somewhere in the beyond, we have to imagine his big brother is smiling.
Saturday, July 6, Memorial Union Terrace (info)
On Dead Horses’ latest album, My Mother the Moon, Sarah Vos unpacks some pretty heavy shit. Namely, the expulsion of her family from the fundamentalist church she grew up in. The result is a haunting collection of indie folk that teters between hope and despair, a clear representation of some deep inner turmoil. But the result has been anything but despair; Rolling Stone named the Wisconsin duo an “Artist You Need to Know” because of it.
Wash + Parsing
Saturday, July 6, Mickey’s Tavern (info)
Local heroes Wash and Parsing return from their joint Midwestern tour to reclaim their home turf. And joining them for the homecoming will be another pair of great Madison bands: the droners of Caryatids and the noisy, angsty indie rock of Lameena (the brainchild of Disq guitarist Logan Severson).
Cancer Rising: A Night of Queer Astral Jams
Saturday, July 6, The Winnebago (info)
Two queer femme DJs bound by the stars (they’re both Cancer risings, and I’m told it’s Cancer season rn) will put on a night that’s “perfectly suited for grinding and crying.” Stop in and see DJ Avalon (Avalon Clare) and DJ Hitachii (aka Sylvia Johnson of the mighty Gender Confetti) spin “emotional and sensual jams full of rich inner life.”
Sunday, July 7, Mickey’s Tavern (info)
No Coast Records presents a night of poppy, punky goodness. Local garage supergroup Dumb Vision (featuring members of Fire Heads and Wood Chickens) will headline. Returning from New York is Big Eyes, a pop punk act that has some serious classic rock vibes (think Thin Lizzy or Cheap Trick). From Ohio comes Good Shade, a punk outfit who released their latest album, Way Out, on the Madison-based Dirtnap Records. And lastly, there’s Tom Grrrl, an energetic power punk group with roots here in the Mad City.
Sunday, July 7, Memorial Union Terrace (info)
Cinemas today are dominated by blockbuster franchise films, and the film widely regarded as the first summer blockbuster is Jaws. Steven Spielberg’s 1975 breakthrough wasn’t just an enormous moneymaker, but a technical triumph. As dated as it may look now, its mechanical shark was a watershed moment for special effects and redefined how exactly films can suspend disbelief. Also, can you beat a screening of Jaws that’s on the waterfront?