Hans Christian Heg
Summer opens in a big way this Memorial Day weekend, what with four bratwurst-themed celebrations -- World's Largest Brat Fest, the People's Bratfest, Wurst Times, and Alt-Bratfest -- along with the Madison Marathon. The calendar also includes: WisCon; the Madison Classic Horse Show and the Zoo Century Birthday Party; The Industrial Modern exhibit at MmoCA; a production of Queer Shorts 6; WWE Smackdown; the Pants Off Dance Off Underwear Party; live music from Que Flavor, Black Label Society, Gothsicles, Briana Hardyman, Jason Isbell & the 400 Unit, Lizard Skynyrd, Hanah Jon Taylor, Handphibias, Whitney Mann with Blake Thomas, and Dave Weld & the Imperial Flames; and, the Summer Palooza festival. The holiday itself is marked by observances across the state and nation, including the Monona Memorial Day Parade.
NOTEWORTHY: Russian President Boris Yeltsin signs treaty with NATO, 1997.
BIRTHDAYS: Actor Joseph Fiennes, 1970; OutKast rapper Andre 3000, 1975.
Concourse Hotel, through May 29
Madison's renowned science fiction convention emphasizes issues of feminism, race, gender and class. This year's guest of honor is Nisi Shawl, who won the James Tiptree Jr. Award for her story collection Filter House.
Alliant Energy Center, 10 am-9 pm. Also Saturday (10 am-9 pm), Sunday (10 am-9 pm) & Monday (10 am-6 pm), May 28-30
Brat Fest has been raising money for worthy causes lo these many years, and how is it done? It is done by you buying and eating greasy sausages. So bon appétit, and while you're there, enjoy the music of scores of acts including Madison County, Cherry Pie and Selfish Gene (see Music).
Alliant Energy Center's Arena, through May 29
The annual American Saddlebred and Hackney Ponies show features over 400 horses from around the Midwest competing for horsey glory. Expect gorgeous animals, skillful riders and many interesting smells.
Bartell Theatre, 8 pm. Also Saturday (8 pm) & Sunday (2 pm), May 28 & 29
StageQ, Madison's LGBT theater troupe, presents its annual festival of short plays. The 10 one-acts were culled from over 200 submissions, and cast members include familiar faces like Nathan Figueroa, Brian Belz and Kelly Fitzgerald.
UW Memorial Union Terrace, 8 pm
This lively local ensemble specializes in Afro-Cuban jazz, salsa, cha-cha-cha, and other danceable world-music genres. Practice your spins, dips and swivels, then hit the Terrace for a night of rug-cutting fun.
Majestic Theatre, 9 pm
Frontman Zakk Wylde sports a classic rags-to-riches story: Ozzy Osbourne snatched him from his job at a New Jersey gas station, and before long he became a guitar superstar, winning numerous awards and appearing as a playable character in Guitar Hero: World Tour. Head-bang your cares away as Wylde and his metal-playing brethren rock the house. With HourCast and Anchored.
Inferno, 9 pm
This silly, synthy four-piece from Chicago unites videogame geeks and fans of industrial dance music. Hear selections from their 2009 release, Sega Lugosi's Dead, and see what else they've got up their collective sleeve. With Everything Goes Cold, Caustic and Gentleman Loser.
Erin's Snug Irish Pub, 9 pm
A Madison native, Nashville resident and musical chameleon, Hardyman has earned comparisons to Stevie Nicks, Bonnie Raitt, Emmylou Harris and Loretta Lynn with her fusion of country, blues, soul and roots-rock.
High Noon Saloon, 9:30 pm
After leaving Drive-By Truckers four years ago, Isbell founded his own country-rock band, whose self-titled debut received a thumbs-up from Rolling Stone in 2009. Read about their sophomore release, Here We Rest, in this week's Tour Stop. With Maria Taylor.
Frequency, 9:30 pm
Drone and hardcore fans dig this band's dark, feedback-laced sound, while sci-fi lovers get a kick out of song titles such as "Bird Robot" and "Space Eels." With Droids Attack, Helliphant and the Few.
NOTEWORTHY: 19-year-old West German pilot Mathias Rust makes unauthorized landing in U.S.S.R., 1987.
BIRTHDAYS: Aussie pop thrush Kylie Minogue, 1968; Oscar-nominated actress Carey Mulligan, 1985.
Madison Museum of Contemporary Art, through Sept. 4 MMoCA's latest exhibit gathers painting, photographs and more that examine laborers and their environments. Artists from the 19th century through today are represented, including William Gropper, Donna Dennis and William Klein. The show is a companion to the museum's just-opened "Picturing Technology: Land and Machine."
Henry Vilas Zoo, 10 am-3 pm
To mark 100 years, the zoo kicks off its 100 days of Celebration with music, kids' activities and a creative-cake contest. Will the animals be wearing birthday hats? Probably not, but wouldn't it be cute?
Capitol Square, 10 am-3 pm
Perhaps the unlikeliest outcome of this year's labor protests is a profusion of bratwurst festivals, including three alternatives to the World's Largest Brat Fest. The focus of this one is local farming, so its Dane County Farmers' Market setting is appropriate.
High Noon Saloon, 11 am
Join Bluetrain, the Hot Money Band, Primitive Culture, A Minute Jack Forum, the Black Caps, Max Dvorak and more at this food- and music-filled Brat Fest alternative, which benefits Second Harvest Food Bank (see Music).
Talula, 7 pm
The avant-garde flutist and sax player pushes the envelope for jazz and experimental musicians alike, including his students at the Madison Media Institute. Marvel at his wondrous improvisations at this performance.
Alliant Energy Center's Coliseum, 7:30 pm
Our story in professional wrestling so far: Large, angry men, some heroes, some villains, have been shouting threats, then beating each other in a form of highly ritualized theater. In tonight's event, look for more of the same.
UW Memorial Union Terrace, 8 pm
The local percussion ensemble is a homage to baterias, Brazilian samba schools that serve as bands for capoeira performers. Play along with ice-cream-spoon drumsticks or beer-cup congas (provided). With Massamba Brazilian Dance, Grupo Balanca and Metabaque.
Majestic Theatre, 9 pm
Strip down to your skivvies to gain free admission to this dancefest starring Chicago house-and-techno stylist Dani Deahl. With DJs Lizzy T and Brook.
High Noon Saloon, 9 pm
After opening for Willie Nelson, Loretta Lynn and George Jones earlier this year, local country songstress Mann is ready to release her sophomore EP, The Western Sky. Meanwhile, Thomas will unveil his fourth studio album, The Window and the Light, as he jams with Madison notables Chris Wagoner, Mary Gaines, Josh Harty, Louka Patenaude and Chris Sassman. With Count This Penny.
Harmony Bar, 9:45 pm
A veteran of the Chicago blues scene, guitarist Weld started out playing in west-side clubs. These days he plies the Midwest circuit, with occasional trips to Europe. His 2010 album, Burnin' Love, was his first with the Imperial Flames in 15 years.
NOTEWORTHY: Wisconsin achieves statehood, 1848.
BIRTHDAYS: Actress Annette Bening, 1958; Grammy-winning rocker Melissa Etheridge, 1961.
Capitol Square, 7 am
The annual event features a full marathon, a half marathon, a quarter marathon, a wheelchair marathon and a kids' race. You can also just stand on the sidelines and cheer for the athletes (wimp).
Orton Park, 11 am
This celebration of sausage eating involves friendly local acts and a cozy east-side locale. Josh Harty, Taki Allstars, Chick Singer, Screamin' Cyn Cyn & the Pons and DJ Jeremy Thomas entertain (see Music).
MEMORIAL DAY OBSERVED
NOTEWORTHY: Joan of Arc burns at stake, 1431.
BIRTHDAYS: Grammy-winning F-bomb dropper Cee Lo Green, 1974; rock guitarist Tom Morello, 1964.
Monona Grove High School to Village Lanes, 10 am Time to remember the too many American soldiers who've died lately, as well as others who've served their country. Monona's parade is followed by ceremonies at Monona Heritage Senior Campus, Roselawn Cemetery and Highland Memory Gardens.
Come Back In, 1 pm
Local jam rockers the Lucas Cates Band headline this Memorial Day fest at the near-east-side entertainment complex. Also performing: Honey, Summer & Fall, MoonHouse, Lou Dog, People Brothers Band and Hypnopotamus.