Enjoy a compilation of selected tracks by artists playing shows we're excited about in Madison during the week of Dec. 22, 2016-Jan. 5, 2017. For more information on these shows, read on under the Spotify playlist!
Dogs of War, Thursday, Dec. 22, High Noon Saloon, 9 pm:“ Rap band” is a term that doesn’t get used a lot, but it’s the best way to describe Dogs of War. The Madison outfit is a “transcendence of rock and hip-hop” that includes members of local scene vets L.O.S.T. S.O.U.L.S. In 2015 they released Unleashed, their debut EP. With fellow local hip-hop experimentalists Bird’s Eye and Chris LaBella.
Steve Gillespie , Thursday, Dec. 22, Comedy Club on State, 8:30 pm: Steve Gillespie claims that he has nothing except credit card debt and his friend’s Netflix password, but this “gentlemen degenerate” also has solid bits and pinpoint comedic timing. Gillespie, who recently relocated from Minneapolis to Los Angeles, was the runner-up for “Best of the Midwest” at Gilda’s Laughfest in 2013, and his recent appearance on Conan solidified his status as a bona fide rising star. If you’re looking to end your year with some belly laughs, look no further. With Pat Susmilch, Cody Lemke. ALSO: Friday, Dec. 23, 8 & 10:30 pm.
NØÅ album release, Friday, Dec. 23, The Frequency, 8:30 pm: Noah Gilfillan, of the Madison-based band the Earthlings, is putting out his first solo album as NØÅ. The experimental project sounds a little bit like Animal Collective mixed with Cat Stevens. Come out and enjoy Gilfillan’s cerebral grooves, along with Vesten Kollekive lablemates Shikimo, Holven Fora and Darwin’s Finches.
Yid Vicious, Friday, Dec. 23, Bos Meadery, 7:30 pm: Spectacularly named Madison group Yid Vicious has been a leader in the klezmer revival since forming in 1995, even touring Japan and Argentina. But it’s not the international acclaim that sets them apart; it’s their innate ability to make you get up and dance to their traditional Yiddish folk music juiced up with contemporary influences.
Nate Craig, Friday, Dec. 23, Brink Lounge, 8:30 pm: Madison native Nate Craig is a very funny man. He’s appeared on Last Comic Standing, Ridiculousness and The Bob and Tom Show, and runs an always hilarious, occasionally unhinged Twitter account. He’ll be bringing his best Christmas stories to the Brink Lounge, which include showing his “little boy ass” to the congregation at St. Rafael’s. You’ll have to go see him to get all the details.
Sparklefuck,Friday, Dec. 30, Frequency, 9 pm:When you’re called Sparklefuck, you better have a live show killer enough to back up the name. Luckily, these Madison punk rockers deliver, with a performance that’s impossible to describe, or forget. Plus, they’ll be sharing the stage with three other great Mad City bands: I.T. punks Help Desk, long-running skate rats the Moguls, and Made of Blocks, a group that features Sparklefuck’s own Ryan Schremp.
Better Yeti, Saturday, Dec. 31, Alchemy Cafe, 10 pm: Nasty New Year’s turns seven, and Alchemy Cafe’s annual $10 WORT benefit has quite the party planned. DJ Captain Smooth kicks it off at 10 pm, with funk outfit Better Yeti (formerly the Mustache) supplying the tunes beginning at 11, and a free champagne toast set for midnight.
VO5 + Harmonious Wail, Saturday, Dec. 31, Concourse Hotel: Those willing to shell out a little extra cash can get their money’s worth at the Concourse. With packages ranging from $199, guests will be treated to a midnight champagne toast and music from VO5, an 11-piece funk and disco band that includes Isthmus’ own Catherine Capellaro. Some packages include jazz from Gypsy swing masters Harmonious Wail, a steak and lobster dinner and a comedy show featuring Rocky LaPorte.
Hometown Sweethearts, Saturday, Dec. 31, Crystal Corner, 9:30 pm: Hometown Sweethearts, an energetic Madison band specializing in both originals and covers, will be playing their first New Year’s Eve show in four years. The band starts at 9:30 pm, so be sure to bring $20 and your dancing shoes.
Pachinko, Saturday, Dec. 31, Frequency, 9 pm: Those looking to rock into the New Year rather than ring it in need look no further than the Frequency. Mad City madmen Pachinko, Cold Black River and Wheelie King will be on hand to melt faces until the ball drops. It’s a $10 cover, and doors open at 8 pm, with the show starting at 9.
Lou & Peter Berryman, Saturday, Dec. 31, Goodman Community Center, 8 pm: Those unable to decide between music and comedy would enjoy Madison staples Lou and Peter Berryman, folk singers known for their humorous observations about life. The show starts at 8 pm, and proceeds from the $22 ticket price benefit the Goodman Center.
Knuckle Down Saloon: Spend your New Year’s thinking of sweet home Chicago when the Cash Box Kings perform at the Knuckle Down. The Windy City blues band takes the stage at 9 pm, and will be joined by a secret guest, described as “one of the great young blues musicians in the world — direct from Tokyo, Japan!”
Fire Retarded + Wood Chickens, Saturday, Dec. 31, Mickey's Tavern, 10:30 pm: Willy’s wildest dive has a punk rock New Year’s planned that can’t be beat. Starting at 10:30 p.m., Fire Retarded, Wood Chickens and Kazmir will rock you into 2017.
Jersey Boys, Tuesday, Jan. 3, Overture Hall, 7:30 pm: It’s a classic American story — four blue-collar boys from the wrong side of the tracks become one of the country’s biggest pop music sensations of all time. This Tony- and Grammy Award-winning musical chronicles the formation, success and eventual breakup of 1960s rock group the Four Seasons. You’ll recognize hits like “Big Girls Don’t Cry” and “December, 1963 (Oh What a Night).” ALSO: Wednesday-Thursday, Jan. 4-5, 7:30 pm. Through Jan. 8.
Find all of his week's Isthmus Picks here.