Madison is embarking upon a Memorial Day weekend for the ages, with the USA College National Ultimate Frisbee Championships, the World's Largest Brat Fest, the Madison Classic Horse Show, WisCon, and the Madison Marathon. The calendar also includes: productions of Cancer Stories and Poona the Fuckdog and Other Plays for Children; a performance by Nathaniel Bartlett; a Bawku West Collective listening party and The Gomers 25th Anniversary Yacht Rock Party; and, more live music by Grupo Balanca, The Bled, The American Dead, The Projection People, Caroline's Spine, His & Her Vanities, Moonalice, Dude Jams, and Feufollet. This holiday weekend closes with Memorial Day observances around the region.
NOTEWORTHY: 19-year-old West German pilot Mathias Rust makes unauthorized landing in U.S.S.R., 1987.
BIRTHDAYS: Dionne quintuplets, 1934; Creedence Clearwater Revivalist John Fogerty, 1945.
Madison Classic Horse Show
Alliant Energy Center's Arena, through May 30
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.
USA College National Ultimate Frisbee Championships
Reddan Soccer Complex, Verona, through May 30. Finals: Otto Breitenbach Stadium, Middleton High School, Monday, May 31, 11 am
Flying discs will fill the air as the 40 best college ultimate teams descend on Madison, arguably the sport's capital (see Cover Story). Expect UW's Hodags and Bella Donna to be in the mix for the open and women's titles, respectively.
Concourse Hotel, through May 31
Madison's renowned science fiction convention emphasizes issues of feminism, race, gender and class. This year's guests of honor are novelists Mary Anne Mohanraj and Nnedi Okorafor, who will read at A Room of One's Own (Thursday, May 27, 6 pm). Learn more at wiscon.info.
World's Largest Brat Fest
Alliant Energy Center, 10 am-9 pm. Also Saturday (10 am-9 pm), Sunday (10 am-9 pm) & Monday (10 am-6 pm), May 29-31
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 dozens of acts including Aaron Williams and the HooDoo, Beth Kille, the Oak Street Ramblers, Lucas Cates, Madison County and New People.
UW Memorial Union Terrace, 6 pm
The local ensemble specializes in Brazilian samba music, especially the pagoda style that emerged in the southern part of the country in the 1980s. The Massamba Brazilian dance company will show off a few of the many ways to dance to Afro-Brazilian music. With Handphibians and West African Dance of Madison.
The Loft, 6:30 pm
The post-hardcore-meets-mathcore quartet from Tucson make a rare appearance in Madison to show off their new CD, Heat Fetish. Learn more about the band and the recording in this week's Tour Stop. With In Fear and Faith, Of Mice & Men and the Color Morale.
Overture Center's Playhouse, 7:30 pm. Also Saturday, May 29, 2 & 7:30 pm
For two years, members of the Wisconsin Story Project conducted interviews with people whose lives have been affected by cancer. Their stories are told here in intersecting monologues (see Theater).
Poona the Fuckdog and Other Plays for Children
MercLab Theatre, 930 N. Fair Oaks, 8 pm. Also Saturday (8 pm) & Sunday (6 pm), May 29 & 30
Har har, it's not really for children. Mercury Players Theatre presents Jeff Goode's ribald fairytale about a dog in search of meaningful connections. Aliens and a penis are also in there somewhere.
Nathaniel Bartlett Modern Marimba
Overture Center's Promenade Hall, 8 pm
Bartlett, a native of Madison, has studied at the esteemed Royal Academy of Music and the Eastman School of Music, where he honed his composing chops and his skills as a marimba player. At this performance, he'll celebrate the release of a new CD, Space Forms, which explores the possibilities of his instrument through computers, electronics and complex sound-projection techniques.
Bawku West Collective Listening Party
Project Lodge, 7:30 pm
Local musician Luke Bassuener (of This Bright Apocalypse) took his recording equipment with him to his Peace Corps assignment in northern Ghana and created a fabulous compilation of the region's traditional music when he returned to town. Fill your ears with music from the CD, plus live performances by the No and Maybe Game, local bass-and-mbira project Asumaya, and hip-hoppers Sincere Life and J-Real.
The Gomers 25th Anniversary Yacht Rock Party
Majestic Theatre, 9 pm
Madison's gleefully goofy house band celebrates its silver anniversary with an evening of yacht rock. What's yacht rock? It's soft rock you would listen to if you were a self-satisfied yacht owner in 1979 -- think Michael McDonald, Christopher Cross. Yep, that's what it is.
The American Dead, Direct Hit
High Noon Saloon, 9:30 pm
The lightning-fast, razor-sharp pop-punk of Milwaukee's Direct Hit will leave you begging for more, while local punks the American Dead will deliver just what you've been waiting for: a debut album called Hardluck and Hangovers. With the Gusto, Banner Pilot and Owen Mays.
The Projection People
Frequency, 10 pm
These five fun-loving guys with a thing for samples, synths and sequencing will unveil their debut LP -- and their plans to retool the lineup later this year. Also playing: Kitty Rhombus, Nervous Circuits and Ridley (see Music).
NOTEWORTHY: Wisconsin achieves statehood, 1848.
BIRTHDAYS: Cameo vocalist/drummer/codpiece model Larry Blackmon, 1956; Hives singer Howlin' Pelle Almqvist, 1978.
High Noon Saloon, 9 pm
In their heyday, the Phoenix-based alt-rockers toured with KISS and Aerosmith. These days, they're still putting out good material, including "The Light Inside," a single off of their 2008 album Work It Out, which received almost as much radio play as "Sullivan," their big hit from 1997. With Muzzy Luctin.
His & Her Vanities, The Hussy
Frequency, 10 pm
What happens when Science of Sound's Ricky and Terrin Riemer team their poppy post-punk with the hyperactive garage-meets-punk awesomeness of local label mates the Hussy? We're not entirely sure, but you're likely to come home drenched in beer, sweat and stories you can tell and retell all summer long. With Sticks & Stones and the Hemlines.
NOTEWORTHY: Joan of Arc burns at stake, 1431.
BIRTHDAYS: Clash drummer Topper Headon, 1955.
Capitol Square, 7 am
The annual event features a full marathon, a half marathon, marathon relays, a quarter marathon, a wheelchair marathon and a kids' race. You can also just stand on the sidelines and cheer for the athletes (wimp).
High Noon Saloon, 8 pm
The San Francisco jam band, whose members have played in bands with Phil Lesh and Jefferson Starship among other greats, has a song called "It's 4:20 Somewhere." Does it get more Madison?
NOTEWORTHY: League of American Wheelmen est., 1880.
BIRTHDAYS: Ivory Snow baby-turned-actress Brooke Shields, 1965.
Monona Memorial Day Parade
Monona Grove High School to Sennett Middle School, 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 Blooming Grove and Roselawn cemeteries and Highland Memory Gardens.
Memorial Day Commemoration
James Madison Park, 1 pm
As we remember our fallen, the Madison Veterans for Peace ask us to think about preventing more deaths. The rally's keynote speech is by local historian Adam Schesch.
High Noon Saloon, 8 pm
This year, the High Noon's celebrating Memorial Day with a pop-punk picnic of sorts -- if you consider swigging PBR and shimmying around a stage on par with burger flipping and Frisbee tossing. Local punks Masked Intruder, the Transgressions and the Warhawks will serve as the appetizers, while the bouncy, noisy and super-melodic offerings of Dude Jams will be the main course. Also playing: Shred Savage, Bo. Monroe.
Crystal Corner Bar, 9 pm
The Cajun-rock ensemble swing through Madison with their accordions, fiddles and guitars following a gig at Iowa's Taste Louisiana Cajun and Zydeco Festival. Check it out and gear up for the world-music extravaganza of the Marquette Waterfront Festival, which is just two weekends away.