Strand of Oaks, Ryley Walker, deM atlaS and Lia Ices (clockwise from top) are performing at FRZN Fest 2015.
This year marks the fourth anniversary of FRZN Fest, a Madison festival wherein a slew of bands and artists breathe life into one of the concert calendar's dreariest months. The four-night event, which the High Noon Saloon is hosting yet again, kicks off on Thursday, Jan. 15, and runs through Sunday, Jan. 18.
Whether you're a fan of hip-hop, dad rock or folk-pop, this year's lineup will surely bring warmth to your winter.
Thursday, Jan. 15
deM atlaS is Joshua Evans, a St. Paul-based rapper who signed last fall to Rhymesayers Entertainment, the imprint that put Minnesota on the hip-hop map. He released his West Coast-inspired debut album, DWNR, this past October.
Expect: A high-energy set full of thought-provoking lyricism and behemoth beats.
Recommended if you like: Dualities, positive vibes, Prof
Essential album and song: DWNR / "All We Got"
On her 2014 LP, Ices, Lia Ices shed her folk-focused sound for synthesizer-based songs that bring to mind her new home of California. Though her new style differs sonically from her old, her ability to push pop music's boundaries has remained intact.
Expect: A sunny set of supple singing.
Recommended if you like: Sunshine, ethereal pop, Wye Oak
Essential album and song: Grown Unknown / "Daphne"
This septet specializes in rock, soul and everything in between. The band calls Chicago home and draws inspiration from the city's traditions and storied musical past.
Expect: A crowded stage brimming with horns.
Recommended if you like: The Windy City, smooth falsettos, Wyclef Jean
Essential album and song: A Humble Masterpiece / "The Wonder Years"
Over the last half decade, Cribshitter has shifted from a side project to a Madison musical institution. Their songs range from being funny to unbearably funny, with each one original and charming in a twisted way.
Expect: The unexpected.
Recommended if you like: Poop jokes, didgeridoos, cheesy synth tones
Essential album and song: Cry a Little Rainbow / "Jellyshoes"
Friday, Jan. 16
Strand of Oaks is Timothy Showalter, a man whose recent pitfalls inspired him to write and record HEAL, his most personal and acclaimed record yet. If you're a fan of ballads, folk-rockers or rock-rockers, HEAL's songs will surely snag your ears.
Expect: A stirring performance of personal catharsis and big guitar solos.
Recommended if you like: Singers with big beards, the Midwest, Damien Jurado
Essential album and song: HEAL / "Shut In"
This Canadian band took the independent music scene by storm this summer with their heartbreaking hit, "Archie, Marry Me." Their blend of pop hooks and strong songwriting show they're a step ahead of their indie peers.
Expect: An endearing set bolstered by jangly guitars and dreamy vocals.
Recommended if you like: Summer love, the letter V, Beach House
Essential album and song: Alvvays / "Archie, Marry Me"
The Family Crest is a community-based music experience spearheaded by Liam McCormick and John Seeterlin. Though they're now technically a seven-piece outfit, the Family Crest boasts more than 400 extended members. They released their latest record, Beneath the Brine, with the help of Kickstarter in 2014.
Expect: A set of sweeping, string-supported songs.
Recommended if you like: Feeling ambitious, orchestral rock, the Head and the Heart
Essential album and song: The Village / "Love Don't Go"
GGOOLLDD is Wisconsin's latest and greatest gift to parties everywhere. The six-piece released their excellent debut $TANDARD$ last summer, just before burning a hole in the southeast corner of the state with their fun-filled live shows.
Expect: A party.
Recommended if you like: Confetti, synth-pop, Chvrches
Essential album and song: $TANDARD$ / "Gold"
Saturday, Jan. 17
In 2012, Dylan Baldi amped his bedroom project Cloud Nothings into a raw rock 'n' roll trio, with TJ Duke and Jayson Gerycz. Since then, the band has released two records of searing, melodic punk.
Expect: A high-energy performance by the band only to be matched by the crowd.
Recommended if you like: '90s alternative rock, teenage angst, ferocious drumming
Essential album and song: Attack on Memory / "I'm Not Part of Me"
Protomartyr hail from the Motor City and their music echoes that city's groundbreaking garage acts. Their stunning sophomore effort, Under Color of Official Right, found the four-piece honing their blend of garage and punk to splendidly eerie results.
Expect: A no-frills set of music and minimal banter.
Recommended if you like: Post-punk, literary lyrical references, Wire
Essential album and song: Under Color of Official Right / "Come & See"
PUP is a Canadian punk band made up of four childhood friends. After releasing their self-titled debut last April, PUP was named one of Rolling Stone's 2014 "breakout rock acts" and has been longlisted for the Polaris Music Prize.
Expect: A euphoric blend of melodious and dissonant rock.
Recommended if you like: Punk rock, fast food, Weezer
Essential album and song: PUP / "Reservoir"
Blank Range's members hail from the Midwest (Illinois and Missouri) but now call Nashville home. The five-piece rock outfit had a breakout 2014, sharing stages with Spoon, Blitzen Trapper and Benjamin Booker.
Expect: Good ol' fashioned Nashville rock 'n' roll.
Recommended if you like: Blues rock, cassette tapes, Benjamin Booker
Essential album and song: Phase II / "Last Crash Landing"
Turn to Crime began as a solo noise endeavor but quickly blossomed into an experimental rock trio. The band is nothing if not exploratory -- their short-but-sweet discography dives into sectors of ambient, punk and pop rock.
Expect: A scuzzy showcase of strange and savory songs.
Recommended if you like: Detroit, noise pop, Lou Reed
Essential album and song: Can't Love / "Can't Love"
Sunday, Jan. 18
Hamilton Leithauser fronted the Walkmen for 15 years before their dissolution in 2014. Though he's now releasing and performing music under his own name, the sound is essentially the same.
Expect: A showman's set from one of indie rock's greatest frontmen.
Recommended if you like: Feeling dapper, dad bands, the Walkmen
Essential album and song: Black Hours / "Alexandra"
Bully is arguably the brightest new band in a Nashville scene that's overflowing with talent. The quartet, who released their debut EP in 2014, play scrappy, heart-on-sleeve garage rock.
Expect: A fuzzy set of garage punk that summons the sounds of '90s alternative rock.
Recommended if you like: Root beer, Best Coast, Those Darlins
Essential album and song: Bully / "Brainfreeze"
Ryley Walker makes effortless, guitar-driven folk that meshes the sounds of the genre's golden eras with a modern-day flourish. His 2014 debut, All Kinds of You, received praise from BBC and NPR, among others.
Expect: A lush, acoustic performance propelled by Walker's commanding voice.
Recommended if you like: Winter, folk rock, Tim Buckley
Essential album and song: All Kinds of You / "The West Wind"