Enjoy a compilation of selected tracks by artists playing shows we're excited about in Madison Feb. 9-16, 2017. For more information on these shows, read on under the Spotify playlist!
Daniel Schnyder with the Blue Note Ensemble, Thursday, Feb. 9, Humanities Building-Morphy Hall, 7:30 pm: Schnyder is the composer of Madison Opera’s February production, Charlie Parker’s Yardbird. While visiting Madison to attend these performances, he is also taking time to play some saxophone in a concert of songs from Bird’s canon, accompanied by UW’s student jazz small group. The evening also includes a Q&A about both the opera and Parker’s life.
Cloud Nothings, Thursday, Feb. 9, High Noon Saloon, 8 pm: The members of Cloud Nothings may only be in their mid-20s, but they are already four albums deep into some of the sharpest, most striking post-punk that modern music has to offer. Their latest, this year’s Life Without Sound, explores the concept of finding one’s place in the world, all under the wash of the dizzying instrumentation that we’ve come to know and love from the Cleveland quartet. With Moon Bros.
Gary Gulman, Thursday, Feb. 9, Comedy Club on State, 8:30 pm: Gary Gulman, who you may remember from Dane Cook’s Tourgasm, is the guy at the party who won’t stop talking, yet you can’t stop listening. He’s got a knack for crafting easy-to-follow yet surprisingly fleshed-out stories about the most banal, everyday things. He’ll deliver a thrilling explanation of how the U.S. postal code abbreviations came to be, or the difference between “waking up” and “getting up.” With Paul Farahvar, Charlie Kojis. ALSO: Friday-Saturday, Feb. 10-11, 8 & 10:30 pm.
Wood Chickens 7” Release, Friday, Feb. 10, Mickey’s Tavern, 10:30 pm, Madison is lucky to be home to the cowpunk powerhouse Wood Chickens. Featuring hits with such telling titles as “Death Rides a Horse” and “Prairie Fire,” their live show is a certified barn burner. At this free show, they’ll be unleashing a new 7” single from their upcoming album Countrycide. With the Foamers, Reverend Rectifier & the Sinners, and T.S. Foss.
Priests, Friday, Feb. 10, UW Union South-The Sett, 9 pm: Washington, D.C., post-punk outfit Priests visit Madison following the Jan. 27 release of their critically acclaimed debut album Nothing Feels Natural, which is a striking document of personal and community unrest. Detroit’s Stef Chura, who released an excellent album of grunge pop on the same date, opens.
Charlie Parker’s Yardbird, Friday, Feb. 10, Overture Center Capitol Theater, 8 pm: Madison Opera presents the Midwest premiere of Daniel Schnyder’s jazz opera. As the body of the famous saxophonist lies unclaimed in the morgue, Parker’s spirit returns to the renowned Birdland, hoping to compose a final masterpiece. ALSO: Sunday, Feb. 12, 2:30 pm.
Gabriela Montero, Saturday, Feb. 11, UW Memorial Union-Shannon Hall, 8 pm: In addition to being a world-renowned classical pianist, the Venezuelan Grammy winner is notable for her genre-bending live improvisations. She creates dazzling elaborations based on suggestions from the audience, from the Goldberg Variations to “Happy Birthday.” Check out video of her concert in Koln; the audience sings her a local German tune, and she transforms it into a propulsive jazz riff reminiscent of Keith Jarrett.
Leon & Mad Dogs, Saturday, Feb. 11, High Noon Saloon, 5 pm: The late Leon Russell was a studio whiz in the 1960s, and eventually became a star himself as one of the most distinctive singer-pianist-songwriters to emerge in the 1970s. This tribute show organized by the Gomers’ Dave Adler and Andy Wallmann features an all-star lineup of local performers, focusing on tunes from Russell’s first solo album and his stint as musical director for the tour immortalized as Joe Cocker’s Mad Dogs and Englishmen album.
Emma’s Revolution, Saturday, Feb. 11, James Reeb Unitarian Universalist Congregation, 7:30 pm: Pat Humphries and Sandy O. are a dynamic duo, internationally touring songwriters in the protest music tradition of Pete Seeger and Phil Ochs. They have toured with Holly Near and sung at protests around the world, including Wisconsin’s Act 10 uprising. This is bound to be a spirit-lifter at a time when artful resistance is needed more than ever.
The Vagina Monologues: A V-Day Benefit for DAIS, Saturday, Feb. 11, Madison Circus Space, 6 & 9 pm: The Vagina Monologues gets a new spin at Madison Circus Space. Local circus artists and dancers have choreographed material to augment the frank, funny and poignant monologues in Eve Ensler’s famous play. V-Day events will be taking place all over the world to raise awareness and money for this global movement to end violence against women and girls. This production will benefit Domestic Abuse Intervention Services (DAIS) of Dane County.
Paula Poundstone, Saturday, Feb. 11, Barrymore Theatre, 8 pm: Known for her wacky take on events large and small, Paula Poundstone is a comedic icon. The standup is heading into her fifth professional decade in a career marked by frequent NPR appearances — notably on Wait Wait...Don’t Tell Me! and A Prairie Home Companion — and a memorable spot as Jay Leno’s election correspondent in 1992. Don’t miss a chance to see this legend at work.
The Launch Party, Sunday, Feb. 12, High Noon Saloon, 8 pm: Serving as the launch for new clothing company 608 Union, this show is a great cross-section of the city’s up-and-coming rap artists. Trebino’s stories from the street will balance out Ra’Shaun’s soulful quest for the right woman. And Lucien Parker’s introspection will contrast Bloodline’s bravado. Presented by the Urban Community Arts Network. With Wisco, Bang and DJ Pain 1.
Boyz II Men, Sunday, Feb. 12, Overture Center, 7 pm: With more than 64 million albums sold worldwide, Boyz II Men is truly one of the most popular acts to come out of the 1990s. The four-time Grammy Award winners will be taking a night off from their tour with Paula Abdul and New Kids on the Block to introduce Madison to their R&B delights.
Circa Survive, Sunday, Feb. 12, Orpheum Theatre, 7:30 pm: Few bands can go their whole careers with zero lineup changes. Bucking that trend, Circa Survive is 13 years old, and the Philly post-hardcore unit is still playing with the original five guys. Now the group will be celebrating the 10-year anniversary of their classic album On Letting Go, playing it from front to back. Mid-aughts emo kids, rejoice! With mewithoutYou, Turnover.
Japandroids, Monday, Feb. 13, Majestic Theatre, 9 pm: When Japandroids released Celebration Rock in 2012, they quickly built a reputation as one of the most frenetic, bombastic bands in modern rock, landing at the top of many best-of lists. Then, they more or less disappeared — until now. The Canadian duo is back with a brand-new album, this year’s Near to the Wild Heart of Life, and spoiler: It rips. With Hold Steady singer Craig Finn and his band, the Uptown Controllers.
Les Cougars Valentine’s Day Show, Tuesday, Feb. 14, High Noon Saloon, 8 pm: Looking for some date-night entertainment? (Or some fun, if you don’t have a special someone?) The annual love-themed variety show by the Madison cabaret/burlesque troupe remembers musical legends who died in 2016 — David Bowie, Prince, George Michael, Pete Burns — and also features skits in tribute to actors lost last year.
Run the Jewels, Wednesday, Feb. 15, Orpheum Theater, 8 pm: Since their start four years back, it’s been said that Killer Mike and El-P are so stylistically different, their pairing in Run the Jewels shouldn’t work. But it does, and maybe their stark contrast is the reason. Regardless, there are now three incredible albums’ worth of Mike’s smooth, effortless flows matched with El-P’s dry, chaffing rhymes. With a deep catalog of politically progressive raps laid over dynamic, driving beats, expect tracks like the head-nod ready “Down,” the hypnotic “Legend Has It” and the rapid, rabid “Close Your Eyes” to set the crowd off. With the Gaslamp Killer, Gangsta Boo, Nick Hook and Cuz.
Hayes Carll, Wednesday, Feb. 15, High Noon Saloon, 8 pm: Hayes Carll is a songwriter’s songwriter who can make a listener break up laughing (“She Left Me for Jesus”) or freeze up at a turn of phrase that cuts with startling perspicacity. His latest album, Lovers and Leavers, leans more toward the thoughtful than the humorous, and these often-introspective songs should be killers in a live setting. With John Evans.
Madison Pop Fest, Thursday, Feb. 16, High Noon Saloon, 8:30 pm: Madison might have a tendency to brand concerts as “fests,” but even considered as simply a five-band indie pop concert, this promises to be a great night for fans of the Smiths, Belle & Sebastian or just plain melodic goodness. Slumberland Records’ Real Numbers (Minneapolis) will headline, joining forces with Proud Parents, Pollinators, Jonesies and Exploration Team. Call it whatever you want, but don’t miss it.
Find the full rundown of this week's Isthmus Picks here.