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.
Open Mike Eagle
Monday, Nov. 4, High Noon Saloon (info)
Open Mike Eagle is a very funny guy. The Chicago native strikes a balance between poignancy and silliness in his rhymes, operating more like a stand-up comic than an emcee. (One of his songs features a guest verse from Hannibal Buress.) It makes perfect sense that he’s got a side gig starring on the Comedy Central show The New Negroes alongside Baron Vaughn. Unsurprisingly, it’s hilarious. With New York rapper Elucid and visual artist Video Dave.
Zurich Cloud Motors
Monday, Nov. 4, Mickey’s Tavern (info)
Fans of Parquet Courts and Guided by Voices will dig Zurich Cloud Motors. The Rhode Island band plays lo-fi punk that’s caked in sludge. It’s brainy and dirty, often in the same breath. Support comes from Madison shoegazers ghostar and art rock goofball Alex Wiley Coyote.
Monday, Nov. 4, Comedy on State (info)
Trey Kennedy is a Christian comic the same way Creed was a Christian band — it’s not the primary focus of his work. Unlike Creed, however, Kennedy is actually pretty good at what he does. In fact, the YouTuber and former Vine star is at his best when spoofing the idiosyncrasies of his fellow white people. From millennial boyfriends to girls during fall, Kennedy has the ability to really zero in on a topic and mine it for comedy gold.
Tuesday, Nov. 5, High Noon Saloon (info)
The problem with being in a band with several singer/songwriters is that your voice can get lost in the shuffle. Katie Toupin found this to be the case with Houndmouth, the roots rock band she co-founded but then left in 2016. But as anyone who’s ever rocked out to “Casino (Bad Things)” could tell you, Toupin’s voice was too strong to stay down. Her solo debut, Magnetic Moves, eschews Houndmouth’s folky aesthetic for a more Beatles-esque indie pop. Support comes from Nashville folk rocker Grayson Foster and Madison singer/songwriter Elizabeth Mary.
Tuesday, Nov. 5, Memorial Union Rathskeller (info)
Walla Walla’s Chastity Belt is part of the great Pacific Northwest tradition of overcast indie rock. Drenched in reverb and slyly funny, they smash gender norms with a wink. After a brief hiatus in 2018, the quartet returned with a self-titled fourth album released on Sept. 20. (Note to Jay Som fans: It was produced in part by Melina Duterte.) With Strange Ranger, a band influenced in equal part by Built to Spill and Modest Mouse.
Tuesday, Nov. 5, Capitol Theater (info)
Growing up playing the drums, Dream Theater seemed like a mythical entity. Formed by a group of Berklee College of Music students in the 1980s, the prog metal juggernauts are noted for their hypertechnical compositions. And they’re one of the most fascinating bands in heavy music; listening to Dream Theater more often calls to mind Beethoven than Between the Buried and Me. This would be a good show to air drum at if you could make the space, as Mike Mangini’s drum kit is like a million pieces.
Jimmy Eat World
Wednesday, Nov. 6, The Sylvee (info)
It’s fitting that they chose to call their new album Surviving, because Jimmy Eat World are survivors. Unlike some of their contemporaries who cling to relevance by cosplaying as teenagers (looking at you, blink-182), Jimmy Eat World’s success is in their ability to be themselves: four average dudes now in their 40s. They’ve gracefully aged into emo’s elder statesmen and deliver their wizened advice via buoyant indie punk. As long as there are young people looking for a reassuring voice to guide them, there will always be a place for Jimmy Eat World. Joining them on tour is the one-woman indie pop band pronoun.
Wednesday, Nov. 6, High Noon Saloon (info)
Robbie Wulfsohn once said he’d hoped his band would appeal to fans of both Phish and D’Angelo. Good news for Wulfsohn: Ripe nailed it. The group builds a hypertechnical skeleton around Wulfsohn’s pitch-shifting vocals. Ripe is that rare jam band that you can actually, honest-to-god dance to, rather than just swaying while the guitar solo stretches into its 11th minute. And the star of the show here is clearly Wulfsohn. The poofy-haired powerhouse might be the best pure singer you’ve never heard of. Eclectic Australian indie rock band Castlecomer will open.
Wednesday, Nov. 6, Madison Museum of Contemporary Art (info)
For the vast majority of Americans, our knowledge of Syria is limited to what we see on the news. For Sama puts the viewer on the ground in one of the world’s most dangerous countries with an extremely human story. The 2019 documentary, presented as a letter from director Waleed al-Kataeb to her infant daughter, is an enthralling view of everyday life in Aleppo. Just because al-Kataeb and her family live in a war zone doesn’t mean they can’t find small joys.
Wednesday, Nov. 6, The Marquee at Union South (info)
From “Tina, you fat lard!” to “Vote for Pedro,” Napoleon Dynamite is one of the most quotable movies of the early aughts. I remember seeing the 2004 cult favorite when I was in middle school and thinking it was the funniest thing in the world. I could probably still recite it verbatim. Imagine what I could be doing with my life if my brain wasn’t full of Napoleon Dynamite dialogue. And while you’re there, make Pedro proud: Badgers Vote will be on hand registering voters.
Thursday, Nov. 7, The Sylvee (info)
Midland is mainstream country for sure, only from a different era. Their polished twang recalls the hitmakers of the ’80s and ’90s more than any of the genre’s current stars. Their 2019 album, Let It Roll, continues that hot streak, packed with even more of the group’s uber-catchy honky tonk hellraisers. And lead single “Mr. Lonely” has a hilarious video that features actor Dennis Quaid getting the shit kicked out of him by a bar full of women. Their opener is their former tour manager, yacht rock/Americana hybrid Desure.
Thursday, Nov. 7, Majestic Theatre (info)
If you’re looking for lo-fi beats to study and relax to, look no further than Crumb. The Boston relaxation rock trio released their debut album, Jinx, earlier this year, and it’s full of the synthy psychedelia that made Tame Impala a household name. Now if you’ll excuse, I’m gonna go shut off all the lights, lay on the floor and listen to “Nina” on repeat. With the soothing tones of Divino Nino and neo-disco artist Shormey.
Thursday, Nov. 7, Orpheum Theater (info)
When I was 12, I rode the bench in little league. At that age, Joe Bonamassa was opening for the legendary B.B. King. The New Yorker comes from the Eric Clapton school of rock and blues, tempering his string-snapping guitar work with soulful vocals and Motown horns. But Bonamassa is no stranger to getting heavy either — he also plays in the hard rock supergroup Black Country Communion with former members of Deep Purple and Led Zeppelin. If only I could have been a preternaturally talented blues guitarist instead of a mediocre third baseman.
Thursday, Nov. 7, Memorial Union Shannon Hall (info)
Stephanie Beatriz is one of the funniest people on television. Her Brooklyn Nine-Nine character, Rosa Diaz, is hilariously aggro — but with a heart of gold underneath her leather jacket. Here, Beatriz will discuss her most famous role as well as her campaign for representation for the LGBTQ+ community. (Beatriz came out as bisexual in 2016, and the Rosa character was written to reflect that.) As her precinct-mate Det. Jake Peralta might say, this event is gonna be “NOICE.”
Thursday through Saturday, Nov. 7-9, Comedy on State (info)
Since joining the Saturday Night Live cast in 2017, Chris Redd quickly established himself as one of the best performers on the show. Mediocre sketches are elevated just by virtue of including the ever excitable 34-year-old. But the Chicago native’s roots are in stand-up, and here he’ll show just how deeply planted those roots are. It’s also something of a homecoming; his 2019 debut stand-up album, But Here We Are, was recorded at Comedy on State.
Friday, Nov. 8, High Noon Saloon (info)
Now in its sixth year, Flannel Fest is the annual benefit for the Keep Wisconsin Warm/Cool Fund. And while the cause is great, supporting it is even easier thanks to the event’s typically stacked lineups. Trapper Schoepp, a Milwaukean who recently gained national exposure thanks to his work on a lost Bob Dylan song, will highlight this edition. The Mascot Theory, Beth Kille Band, The North Code and The Listening Party will also perform.
Friday, Nov. 8, The Sylvee (info)
This Cape Cod band makes sophisticated hard rock. While some modern rock bands will fall back on dick-swinging hedonism, Highly Suspect has a much lighter touch to their heavy music. The trio relies on left-populist lyrics and anthemic guitars, all stitched together with Johnny Stevens’ bluesy vocals. Fans of late era Linkin Park will love Highly Suspect. Their third album, MCID, was released Nov. 1. And as a bonus, jazzy alt-rockers Slothrust will open things up.
New Found Glory
Friday, Nov. 8, Majestic Theatre (info)
New Found Glory’s Jordan Pundik is the premier example of “pop punk voice.” Pundik’s hyper-nasal whine has inspired countless imitators, but none put the same conviction behind it. It’s part of why NFG has endured over the past three decades, transforming from a group of kids in suburban Florida to one of their genre’s godfathers. And as if this show wasn’t already going to make you nostalgic for high school, Hawthorne Heights is opening. (Get ready to shred your throat screaming along to “Ohio is for Lovers.”) Alt-pop auteur Jetty Bones rounds out the bill.
Friday, Nov. 8, The Wisco (info)
If you like your alt-rock coated in a thick layer of sludge, check out Lunar Moth. The Madison group is perfect for anyone who likes Dinosaur Jr., Torche or any other hazy, heavy music. The whole lineup for this show is equally impressive; Oshkosh post-hardcore throwback Cricket, Madison emo punks Pep Talk and the bluesy stylings of 608-based Call and Complain round things out.
Friday, Nov. 8, The Marquee at Union South (info)
Acclaimed indie Tangerine is a true feat of filmmaking. Shot on an iPhone camera and made on a shoestring budget, the 2015 movie focuses on a transgender prostitute named Sin-Dee (breakout actress Kitana Kiki Rodriguez) looking for her pimp’s girlfriend on Christmas Eve. Tangerine has a lot of genuine warmth, and it’s helped establish director and co-writer Sean Baker (who also helmed The Florida Project) as one of his generation’s finest independent storytellers. It will screen here as part of the LGBTQ+ Film Festival, which runs Nov. 7-10.
(Sandy) Alex G
Saturday, Nov. 9, High Noon Saloon (info)
Alex Giannascoli was born in 1993, the year between the release of Pavement’s first two albums. It’s fitting, because as (Sandy) Alex G, Giannascoli is an heir apparent to Pavement’s elliptical indie rock. At once pointed and vague, he creates songs that are catchy without feeling like they’re trying too hard. The prolific singer and songwriter’s eighth album, House of Sugar, was released Sept. 13. Giannascoli will be joined by a pair of talented singer/songwriters, the folky Tomberlin and the punky Indigo de Souza.
Saturday, Nov. 9, Veterans Memorial Coliseum (info)
Like Thanos in the Avengers series, The Chainsmokers are inevitable. The EDM-lite duo are perennial hitmakers — topping charts, dominating the radio waves, and collaborating with everyone from Halsey to Coldplay. Sure, it’s musical junk food, but you have to treat yourself every now and then. And at the very least, The Chainsmokers are a pretty sure bet for a wild live show. Joining them on their “World War Joy” tour are Australian pop punk heartthrobs 5 Seconds of Summer and Canadian pop star Lennon Stella.
‘9to5: The Story of a Movement’
Saturday, Nov. 9, Cinematheque (info)
Dolly Parton is an unimpeachable American treasure, but the “9 to 5” movement was around long before she stumbled out of bed and into the kitchen. Julia Reichert and Steven Bognar’s documentary 9to5: The Story of a Movement highlights the struggles of female workers throughout history, with a focus on their battles for equal rights and safer workplaces. It’s a cross-section of both organized labor and the women’s rights movement, and an eye-opening history lesson.
Saturday, Nov. 9, The Marquee at Union South (info)
This is another selection from the LGBTQ+ Film Festival, which runs Nov. 7-10. Set against the repressed backdrop of the 1950s, 2016’s Carol is ostensibly a story of two star crossed lovers. Therese (Rooney Mara) is a lonely aspiring photographer whose world is turned upside down when she meets Carol (Cate Blanchett), a glamorous married woman going through a difficult divorce. As their relationship blossoms, their personal difficulties only seem to increase. Carol is a sprawling masterwork that scored six Oscar nominations, including Best Actress and Best Supporting Actress for Blanchett and Mara, respectively.
Saturday, Nov. 9, Communication (info)
If you’ve happened across any brightly painted mattresses on the curbs of Madison, you’re already familiar with Triangulador (real name: Liubóv Szwako). The Mexico City native uses discarded items (mostly mattresses) as his canvas, morphing one person’s trash into another’s art project. The exhibition will be on display until January.
Goo Goo Dolls
Sunday, Nov. 10, Orpheum Theater (info)
In 1998, a scrappy Buffalo punk band called Goo Goo Dolls became unlikely stars. “Iris” and “Slide” soon took over the radio, turning the band into a (sort of funny) household name. Below the surface, Goo Goo Dolls are still those hungry kids — their polished alt-rock offers a glimpse into an alternate universe where The Replacements never imploded on stage and instead evolved into platinum-certified ubiquity. They’ll be supported here by Beach Slang’s ramshackle and wide-eyed pop punk.
Sunday, Nov. 10, The Sylvee (info)
Despite being a product of the early 2010s dubstep boom, Illenium is a little mellower than some of his bass-thumping counterparts. The DJ’s songs ebb and flow organically, allowing the beats to form fit with his collaborators. On the recently released Ascend, Illenium joins forces with The Chainsmokers, X Ambassadors and Foy Vance. And he’s more than just a dude with a laptop — his live shows incorporate keyboards, drum pads and immersive light displays. With Canadian drum and bass DJ Dabin and the ever-emotive William Black.