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.
Madison Comedy Week
Through Sunday, June 23, various locations (info)
Madisonians love their comedy, and Madison Comedy Week is a chance to love it in bulk. Tons of showcases are going around all over the city, including both local comics and those from outside the 608. Among those outsiders are a pair of nationally renowned stand-ups appearing at McPike Park. More on that below.
‘The Iron Giant’
Monday, June 17, Memorial Union Terrace (info)
The mark of a good animated film is its ability to reduce an otherwise rational adult to tears. And like Up, The Lion King or Toy Story 3, The Iron Giant has the power to emotionally devastate you. A Cold War-set fable about a boy and his enormous robot, The Iron Giant is one of the most underrated films of the 1990s — and not just animated films, either. Fun fact: the gravelly, mechanical voice of the giant is provided by Vin “we are Groot” Diesel, one of the finest voice actors working today.
I Love the ’90s Sitcom Trivia
Tuesday, June 18, High Noon Saloon (info)
If you’re anything like me, your brain is filled with useless knowledge about The Simpsons, Friends, The Fresh Prince and tons of other shows from the halcyon days of the ’90s. Sometimes it bums me out to think of what important know-how I pushed out to remember that Homer has a brother named Herb Powell. This is a chance to flex all that pop culture minutiae in the ideal setting of the High Noon’s patio.
A Salute to Dr. John
Wednesday, June 19, Majestic Theatre (info)
Earlier this month, Malcolm John Rebennack — the artist known the world over as Dr. John — died at 77 of a heart attack. This tribute to the “Such a Night” singer will benefit the American Heart Association and feature Madison’s own Johnny Chimes. But Chimes won’t be going it alone — the show will see him playing with the likes of The Jimmys, Phat Phunktion and Mama Digdown’s Brass Band.
Daikaiju vs. Roboman
Wednesday, June 19, High Noon Saloon (info)
Two artists from the fringes of heavy music will create an unholy alliance of weirdo metal. From Huntsville, Alabama comes Daikaiju, a kaiju-themed prog outfit that blends experimental metal with surf rock. (Kaiju is a Japanese word that means “strange creature”.) And hailing from a little closer to home is Roboman, a one-man garage punk project who also happens to be Mickey’s Tavern bartender Rob Oman.
Thursday, June 20, Majestic Theatre (info)
Part of the season-long Summerjam series, Madison bands Pine Travelers and Old Pup will team up for a night of psych-tinged roots rock. Pine Travelers cater in an eclectic blend of roots rock tempered with funk influence. Old Pup, meanwhile, is the project of multi-instrumentalist Will Hansen. He presents a familiar version of alt-country that’s spiked with a heavy psychedelic flourishes.
Thursday, June 20, High Noon Saloon (info)
Trent Prall carries on a tradition of being a musical auteur named “Trent” (see also: Reznor). But rather than abrasive electro-metal, Prall’s Kainalu project caters in psychedelic funk that draws from his Hawaiian heritage. The Madison-based musician has steadily released a handful of tracks since putting out his debut EP, Bloom Lagoon, in 2017. For support, Static Panic will throw it back to the glorious synth-pop of the 1980s.
The North Code
Thursday, June 20, The Winnebago (info)
It’s a big year for Madison folkies The North Code. The five-piece released their debut album, In My Head, in May. And this month their tune “Artemis” won a MAMA for Folk/Americana Song of the Year. Here they’re topping a stacked bill that includes the emo-tinged country of American Opera, the raw folk rock of Sarah Burton, and Driftless guitar virtuoso Old Oaks.
Thursday, June 20, Memorial Union Terrace (info)
When Aaron Powell sings, it sounds like it’s not even there. Fog Lake is marked by Powell’s deployment of vocal effects, which allow Fog Lake’s hazy indie pop to become musical scenery. At times you hardly notice you’re listening to it, but it feels like it’s always been there. Also on hand will be Philly rockers Friendship.
Thursday through Saturday, June 20-22, Comedy on State (info)
Kevin Bozeman is a very good stand-up. Good enough that he actually teaches a college class on the art form at DePaul University. (Which I was enrolled in — full disclosure, Kevin is a friend). He’s also got his start in Madison, doing open mics while playing basketball at UW-Whitewater. Come hear his zany, incredulous takes on fatherhood, sports and anything else that pops into his head.
George Clinton & Parliament Funkadelic
Friday, June 21, The Sylvee (info)
After half a century of funkiness, George Clinton is calling it a career. The rainbow-locked face of Parliament Funkadelic — inarguably the most influential group in the genre — is hanging up his zany outfits for good once P-Funk finishes its “One Nation Under a Groove” tour. That said, he did make a hologram of himself, so consider this your last chance to see Clinton with P-Funk in the flesh. Stacking this bill even further are ska fusion favorites Fishbone, plus Dumpstaphunk and Miss Velvet & The Blue Wolf.
Friday, June 21, Breese Stevens Field (info)
If you missed Father’s Day, fear not. Here’s a gift dear old dad will never forget: tickets to see Toby Keith perform to promote a professional golf tournament. The American Family Insurance Championship has enlisted Keith — who wrote the “boot in yer ass” country song that dad loves — to headline, with 38 Special set to open. Dad also loves “Hold on Loosely.” Your opportunity to claim the title of “favorite kid” is waiting…
Adult Swim: Summer Camp
Friday, June 21, Madison Children’s Museum (info)
The museum invites you back to camp for their latest nighttime excursion. You can do everything you did back in your youthful summers, like make lanyards and friendship bracelets or “write a dramatic postcard to your loved ones.” And as part of a partnership with Badgerland Girl Scouts, you can brush up on your camping skills. Kumbaya!
Saturday, June 22, Memorial Union Terrace (info)
L.A.’s Wand deal in psychedelic rock. Frontman Cory Hanson always hinted at his inner weirdness through his work with artists like Mikal Cronin and together PANGEA, but with Wand he’s found the perfect outlet. Unlike his previous work in the realm of garage rock, Hanson now gets to experiment with all sorts of studio toys. He put them all on full display via this year’s Laughing Matter, which Pitchfork said moves the band “further away from psych rock and closer to true psychedelia.” Featuring the noisy, hazy sounds of Seattle’s Dreamdecay.
Madison’s Lilith Fair
Saturday, June 22, High Noon Saloon (info)
More than two decades later, Lilith Fair is remembered as the largest female-focused music festival to date. Here, more than two dozen Madison musicians will pay tribute to some of Lilith Fair’s veterans, including Fiona Apple, Sheryl Crow and Liz Phair.
Saturday, June 22, Mickey’s Tavern (info)
Paleface is a musician as eccentric as he is talented. The NYC-based artist performs as a duo with longtime partner and drummer Mo Samalot. They deliver a well-cultivated bizarro folk that was apparently a huge influence on Beck. Yes, that Beck. Along for the ride are soil-dwelling rockers Free Dirt and your favorite maintenance man, Alex Wiley Coyote.
The Pursuit of Happiness Session
Saturday and Sunday, June 22-23, McPike Park (info)
This festival has put together one of the best summer lineups anywhere in the city. On Saturday, second-generation country rocker and all-around dope person Lilly Hiatt will play two shows, with other performances scheduled from Chicago’s indie soul collective The JC Brooks Band. Sunday has a whole new slate of music, including local mainstays WheelHouse and Mal-O-Dua. Pursuit of Happiness is also noteworthy for featuring Madison Comedy Week’s main headliners. Saturday’s iteration includes Whiskey Icarus himself, Kyle Kinane. A rambling, grumbling raconteur, Kinane is one of the finest practitioners of storytelling stand-up. Sunday will feature Marina Franklin, who like Kinane is a Chicago native but unlike him tells jokes from her experience as a black female with a sarcastic, self-effacing point of view.
“Weird Al” Yankovic
Sunday, June 23, Overture Hall (info)
Kurt Cobain once said he didn’t realize he was famous until “Weird Al” Yankovic wanted to parody one of his songs. Getting lampooned by the comic accordionist is a right of passage among modern music stars, and Weird Al’s oeuvre is full of note-perfect send-ups of popular songs going back decades. Here, the parodist will perform selections from his deep back catalog, and for the first time he’ll be backed by a full symphony orchestra. And hopefully that means a symphonic take on all 11 lunatic minutes of “Albuquerque.”
Sunday, June 23, Communication (info)
Miyha are calling it quits, but the silver lining is that its members will now have more time to focus on their eight million other bands. One of these is Tippy, an eclectic and dance-ready rock outfit that features Mike Pellino and Erik Fredine, Miyha’s guitarist and drummer. Also appearing are Icelandic guitar rockers BB, plus Madison’s Combat Naps and Québécois Auto-Tuners unAshley.
‘E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial’
Sunday, June 23, Memorial Union Terrace (info)
He may a Netflix-hating curmudgeon, but Steven Spielberg is a quintessential American filmmaker. And 1982’s E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial just might be his masterpiece. When young Elliott (The Haunting of Hill House’s Henry Thomas) discovers an alien hiding in his shed, he forms a bond with it. Along with a ragtag group of friends, Elliott helps E.T. find his way back home. But you knew that, right? This is one of the most famous movies, like, ever.