Enjoy a compilation of selected tracks by artists playing shows we're excited about in Madison during the week of March 23-30, 2017. For more information on these shows, read on under the Spotify playlist!
Mason Jennings, Thursday, March 23, Majestic Theatre, 8 pm: Beloved Minnesota pop-folk musician Mason Jennings released his latest (and quite possibly his best) album, Wild Dark Metal, in March 2016 and then promptly dropped off the face of the earth, later telling the Minneapolis Star Tribune that he “wasn’t in the right head space” to promote the album or play it live. Luckily for his fans, he’s easing back into the public eye with three Midwestern tour dates this month. His new album is darker, heavier and edgier than previous works, but it still has that classic Mason Jennings sound. With Madison indie-folk duo Seasaw.
Theo Von, Thursday, March 23, Comedy Club on State, 8:30 pm:Von started off as a cast member of MTV’s reality show Road Rules and rose from those humble beginnings to reach the semifinals of the fourth season of Last Comic Standing. Since then, he launched one of the highest-rated and star-studded podcasts available (ALLEGEDLY), released a Netflix exclusive special (Theo Von: No Offense), and released his first full comedy album (A 30 Pound Bag of Hamster Bones) just a few weeks ago. He blends Southern charm with an acerbic attitude, adding a cringe element to his homegrown stories. With Antonio Aguilar. ALSO: Friday-Saturday, March 24-25, 8 & 10:30 pm.
Coyote, Friday, March 24, High Noon Saloon, 9 pm: Coyote has existed for less than a year, but the band is already prepping for the release of its first album, Fool’s Gold. It builds on the sterling reputation they’ve earned playing a seamless, timeless blend of rock, Americana, funk and jazz — like a slightly rootsier version of Wilco. With Frogleg, Big Dill & the Boys.
Portugal. The Man, Friday, March 24, Majestic Theatre, 9 pm: Given Alaska’s sparse population, it’s amazing to think that even a rhythm section could come from there, let alone a full band. But that’s the case of Portugal. The Man, an eclectic alt-rock crew originally from Wasilla, Alaska, which now calls Portland, Oregon, home. Since forming in 2004, the group has released seven critically acclaimed albums, including 2013’s Evil Friends, which was helmed by indie super-producer Danger Mouse. Their eighth LP, Woodstock, will be released later this year. With HDBEENDOPE. Sold out.
John Christensen’s Atlas Project, Friday, March 24, Central Library, 3rd floor, 7:30 pm: This second installment of the Greater Madison Jazz Consortium’s “InDIGenous Jazz” series features bassist John Christensen, a fixture on the Madison scene for more than 15 years. The stellar lineup includes UW jazz prodigy Johannes Wallmann (piano), Dave Miller (guitar) and Andrew Green (drums). Spend a jazz-filled evening in our gorgeous downtown library while also enjoying libations from Gib’s.
Smoking Popes, Friday, March 24, Frequency, 8:30 pm: Though many bands in Chicago’s tightly knit punk scene seem like family, the Smoking Popes are literally so. Formed in 1991 by brothers Josh, Eli and Matt Caterer (and rounded out by former Alkaline Trio drummer Mike Felumlee), the band has managed to stand out in a crowded scene, thanks to vocals inspired by crooners like Frank Sinatra and Tony Bennett. Their most recent release, This Is Only a Test, came out in 2011. With Fury Things, The Bigger Empty.
Sincere Life album release, Saturday, March 25, High Noon Saloon, 9 pm: Local emcee Sincere Life is sharing the spotlight this Saturday, turning his album release party into a showcase for a number of Madtown’s newer hip-hop artists. Joining the headliner to celebrate his new project, “King Poetic II,” are some of the city’s younger acts, including Broadway, Trebino, Red the Bully and Gooh. Come through for who you know and stay for the new sounds from those you don’t.
Kim Cusack, Sunday, March 26, The Breakwater, Monona, 1 pm: The Madison Jazz Society hosts a Sunday afternoon concert with jazz virtuoso Kim Cusack (Salty Dogs Jazz Band). The clarinet/sax whiz has relocated from California to the Midwest, and is celebrating by holding a concert that includes some of Chicago’s finest young jazz musicians: Patrick Donley (piano), Rob Curtis (banjo) and Dan Anderson (tuba/string bass). Head on out to Monona to catch that Second City swing!
Kris Kristofferson, Sunday, March 26, Overture Center-Capitol Theater, 7:30 pm: Rhodes scholar, U.S. Army Ranger, studio janitor, hit songwriter, hell-raiser, recording and movie star: just a few of the hats worn by Kris Kristofferson over the years. The indelible songs — “Me and Bobby McGee,” “Help Me Make it Through the Night,” “Lovin’ Her Was Easier” and too many others to list here — are what he’s best known for, however. He’ll bring his catalog of classics and his rough-hewn, expressive voice to the Capitol Theater for a can’t-miss concert.
Judah & the Lion, Sunday, March 26, Majestic Theatre, 8 pm: When Judah & the Lion released Folk Hop N Roll in 2016, they unknowingly saved music writers everywhere a whole lot of time by creating the most accurate description of their sound to date. Featuring pulsing hip-hop percussion, fuzzy distortion and folk melodies, Judah & the Lion defy comparisons, a spectacle that needs to be witnessed live. With Wilderado. Sold out.
Journey + Asia, Tuesday, March 28, Alliant Energy Center-Coliseum, 7:30 pm:“ Don’t Stop Believin’.” Need we say more?
Alex Wiley, Tuesday, March 28, Frequency, 8:30 pm: Thanks to the stratospheric success of Chance The Rapper, all eyes are on Chicago’s hip-hop scene. And its next big thing may be a 19-year-old South-sider named Alex Wiley. The emcee’s “#MoPurp,” which features Chance, has garnered more than 100K views on YouTube and marked him as an artist on the rise. He’ll topline the bill with precocious Madisonian Trapo, a 17-year-old who’s already appeared everywhere from BBC Radio to Complex and The FADER. With Kembe X, Lucien Parker, DJay Mando.
Son Volt, Thursday, March 30, Majestic Theatre, 8 pm: As a founder of Uncle Tupelo (along with Wilco frontman Jeff Tweedy), Jay Farrar more or less invented the template for modern alt-country. And since releasing the instant classic Trace in 1995 (which featured a surprise modern rock radio hit in “Drown”), Farrar’s band Son Volt has remained at the forefront of the genre. Almost 25 years and eight albums later (their most recent, Notes of Blue, was released in February), the St. Louis based band is only getting better. With Anders Parker.
Mnozil Brass, Thursday, March 30, UW Memorial Union-Shannon Hall, 8 pm: Austria’s offbeat brass septet combines classical mastery, pop sensibility and slapstick comedy in performances often compared to Monty Python. But they’re not just a novelty act; they are some of the finest brass players on the planet. Catch a pre-concert lecture by Wisconsin Public Radio’s Norman Gilliland at 7 pm in the Festival Room.
Bereft album release, Thursday, March 30, Frequency, 8:30 pm: One of Madison’s top heavy bands, Bereft plays a combination of black and doom metal, resulting in a looming, ominous sound marked by virtuosic technicality. Now, they’ll be celebrating the release of their sophomore record, Lands. Rounding out the bill are legendary Mad City stoners Bongzilla, Iowan doom trio Aseethe, and Dos Malés, another local act that features members of Bongzilla, Panther and Pyroklast.
Kyle Dunnigan, Thursday, March 30, Comedy Club on State, 8:30 pm: A prolific, Emmy award-winning comedian known for his character appearances on Reno 911, Inside Amy Schumer and The Howard Stern Show, Dunnigan knows how to rile audiences with enigmatic takes on human behavior. His impressions are spot-on, and his observational stories are filled with nuanced takes on annoying girlfriends, Costco sample ladies and his alter ego, Craig. With Esteban Touma. ALSO: Friday-Saturday, March 31-April 1, 8 & 10:30 pm.
Find the full rundown of this week's Isthmus Picks here.