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, May 6, Majestic Theatre (info)
Julia Michaels cut her teeth writing songs for artists like Selena Gomez, Demi Lovato and Britney Spears before releasing her Grammy-nominated debut single, “Issues,” in 2017. Now she seems fast-tracked for stardom, with her 2019 EP Inner Monologue, Part 1 aiming to secure it. Opening is fellow pop upstart Josie Dunne.
Tuesday, May 7, Majestic Theatre (info)
Contrary to urban legend, be-bucketed shredder Buckethead did not write the iconic theme song to Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers. He did, however, contribute a song (“Firebird”) to the movie’s soundtrack. It’s an easy mistake to make. Buckethead’s an incredibly talented guitar player, and he’s best known for the histrionic soloing that pierces his brand of avant-garde metal (and also his bucket). If that doesn’t scream “Go Go Power Rangers,” I don’t know what does.
Tuesday, May 7, High Noon Saloon (info)
They may bill themselves as “thriftstore country,” but nothing about Madison outfit Wrenclaw is cut rate. Their throwback version of Americana mixes elements of gospel and Delta blues with rural Midwestern tropes. And those divine shots of slide guitar paint a very down-home picture, recalling memories of back porches and bonfires. With a pair of rootsy locals, Free Dirt and Nick Brown.
Wednesday, May 8, Barrymore Theatre (info)
Calling a tour “Live Nudes” sure is an emphatic (and also pretty funny) way to say you’ll be playing acoustic. And with their slight, yearning country twang, indie pop act Lucius is tailor-made for the intimate setting of a stripped-down gig. Also appearing is Pure Bathing Culture, a critically-acclaimed Portland-based duo whom The Guardian described as a “smile set to music.”
The Native Howl
Wednesday, May 8, High Noon Saloon (info)
The guys of The Native Howl are either completely crazy or total fucking geniuses. That’s the only way I can explain a band that plays a hybrid of bluegrass and, yes, thrash metal. Like, imagine if Anthrax recorded the O Brother, Where Art Thou? soundtrack. There isn’t a band out there quite like The Native Howl. Music this abundantly odd (and endlessly listenable) should be celebrated more often. Their fourth LP, Out of the Garden and Into the Darkness, was released in 2018.
And That’s Why We Drink
Wednesday and Thursday, May 8-9, Comedy on State (info)
Break out the boxed wine. And That’s Why We Drink, an acclaimed paranormal and true crime podcast, will record live here over two nights. Hosts Em Schulz and Christine Schiefer will treat audiences to a paranormal version of Drunk History, telling spooky and sometimes personal stories about serial killers, ghosts and a whole lot of other things that go bump in the night.
Thursday, May 9, Central Library (info)
13th is a rumination on mass incarceration in America through the lens of visionary filmmaker Ava DuVernay (who, fun fact, used to be part of a rap duo called Figures of Speech). A film screening here will be followed by a panel discussion featuring local artists and activists, and moderated by Dr. Karen Reece, president of the Urban Community Arts Network.
Friday, May 10, High Noon Saloon (info)
In the late 1980s, disco was reborn in Chicago as Chicago house, a spliced-together mix of electro, funk and hip-hop. One of its founding fathers is Mark Farina, who pioneered an offshoot of Chicago house he calls “Mushroom Jazz,” which adds in elements of early G-Funk. I know that’s a lot of genre descriptors to process, so it might be best to just go listen to it yourself. With French mixmaster DJ Funkenstein.
Spirits Having Fun
Saturday, May 11, Mickey’s Tavern (info)
You can’t describe Chicago-via-NYC band Spirits Having Fun, because they never really appear in the same form twice. Their music is a nebulous space where genres collide and reform endlessly. Joining them in the ether are mathy noise band ghostar and indie rockers Combat Naps, both from Madison.
The Family Business
Saturday, May 11, Crystal Corner Bar (info)
If you like your rock ‘n’ roll bluesy and dirty, consider getting into The Family Business. The Madison quartet’s take on garage rock recalls The White Stripes and The Black Keys. That sounds like these guys are about one color away from breakthrough stardom (The Purple Family Business? We’ll workshop it). Opening is the Craig Baumann Duo.
Saturday, May 11, Majestic Theatre (info)
It makes perfect sense that Twin Peaks shares its name with an iconic David Lynch project, because they’re both weird as shit. The Chicago quintet is half “power chord factory” and half winsome indie pop, as raucous as they are affecting. And they’ll be sharing this bill with opener Post Animal, a trippy, chugging rock throwback that represents the missing link between Black Sabbath and Tame Impala.