If the late-spring concert lineup is any indication, Madison's live-music scene doesn't plan on slowing down until the dog days of summer. While there are lots of great indie-rock bands on the docket, from Stnnng at the High Noon April 24 to the Sea & Cake at the Frequency May 18, artists who've shaped music history and influenced scores of other musicians rule the roost this season. Here's a smattering of highlights from both the oldies-but-goodies category and the trendsetters-of-today camp.
Overture Hall, Tuesday, May 3, 7:30 pm
Relive summer days surfing the highway with the radio blasting - or your first time watching Fast Times at Ridgemont High - by catching this show, which will likely include the 1982 hit "Somebody's Baby." If Browne's feeling especially confessional, he might discuss his contributions to Nico's Chelsea Girl, his anti-nuclear activism, or his stint playing the Scarecrow in a star-studded version of The Wizard of Oz.
UW Memorial Union's Terrace, Friday, May 6, 8:30 pm
Bridging the worlds of punk and indie rock, Leo is known for his rip-roaring live concerts. Get up close and personal with his critically acclaimed 2010 release, The Brutalist Bricks, his first album to appear on the Billboard 200 chart.
A-Trak, Kid Sister
Majestic Theatre, Friday, May 6, 9 pm
The first record spinner to win all three major DJ competitions, A-Trak barreled into the national spotlight seven years ago, when Kanye West recruited him as his DJ for tours, MTV appearances and the Grammys. Catch him with his leading lady, hip-hop diva Kid Sister, at this show.
Orpheum Theatre's Stage Door, Saturday, May 7, 9 pm
The founder of influential proto-punk band the Modern Lovers has inspired folks like the Sex Pistols, Joan Jett, and Echo and the Bunnymen to cover his songs. Lately, he's gained lots of new followers by appearing on Late Night With Conan O'Brien multiple times. See why Richman's so legendary by checking out this concert.
Majestic Theatre, Sunday, May 8, 9 pm
The French trio makes electropop candy that, ironically, seems tailor-made for burning off a sugar high. MySpace users almost broke the website's server in 2005 when the then-unknown group posted the catchy single "Je Veux Te Voir," which led to international stardom and buddy-buddy status with Katy Perry. Hear Yelle perform tunes from their second album, Safari Disco Club, before they hit the road for Perry's California Dreams tour.
Sharon Jones & the Dap-Kings
Overture Center's Capitol Theater, Monday, May 16, 7:30 pm
Like James Brown, Jones hails from Augusta, Ga., where church choirs outnumber rock bands, and she likewise funnels sacred music's pure emotion into funky soul tunes. Though she's been collaborating with David Byrne and Michael Bublé as of late, she'll appear with her super-tight band the Dap-Kings, making a very convincing case that she's the queen of neo-soul.
Barrymore Theatre, Thursday, May 19, 7:30 pm
Before forming his eponymous power trio, the English guitarist cut his rock-teeth in proto-prog sensation Procol Harum, whose 1967 single "A Whiter Shade of Pale" is still a big hit at wedding receptions. He also released five albums that went gold in the 1970s, including 1974's popular Bridge of Sighs. Help Trower celebrate the debut of a new collection of recordings from this era.
High Noon Saloon, Thursday, May 19, 8:30 pm
Fans of C86, Black Rebel Motorcycle Club and the Jesus and Mary Chain have been flocking toward this five-piece from Brooklyn, N.Y., which blends crackly garage-rock with shoegaze-laced dream-pop. Come check out the tunes from their brand-new album In Love With Oblivion; just don't start requesting songs by Crystal Castles or Crystal Antlers.
Majestic Theatre, Thursday, May 19, 8 pm
Watch this iTunes favorite sample and loop cello melodies onstage, drawing from her 2010 solo album Into the Trees, her ongoing One Cello x 16 project and, if the stars align, her work with gothy, cello-centric outfit Rasputina.
Overture Center's Capitol Theater, 8 pm
Williams' Grammy-winning Car Wheels on a Gravel Road was released in 1998 but sounds just as fresh today, blending rock, blues, country and folk with her distinctively melancholy vocals. Hear her perform songs from her lovely new album, Blessed, plus some heartrending odes to love and loss from earlier releases.