Enjoy a compilation of selected tracks by artists playing shows we're excited about in Madison during the week of March 30-April 6, 2017. For more information on these shows, read on under the Spotify playlist!
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.
Jenny Hval, Friday, March 31, UW Union South-The Sett, 9 pm: This show is a must-see for fans of the avant-garde: On stage, acclaimed Norwegian experimental musician Jenny Hval morphs her confrontational songs into full-on performance art. Hval’s music is brave, brooding and bold; theatrical performances of songs such as 2016’s “Conceptual Romance” make for a transcendent concert experience. Samantha Glass opens.
Fishbone, Friday, March 31, High Noon Saloon, 9 pm: Criminally underrated and fiercely beloved by their fans, Fishbone is one of the most influential bands to emerge from the funky Los Angeles hard rock scene of the 1980s, sharing the stage with everyone from the Beastie Boys to the Red Hot Chili Peppers to the Dead Kennedys. Nearly 40 years later, the ska fusion pioneers are still going strong, playing shows constantly, and with twice the energy of guys half their age. With Cowboy Winter, Mr. Jackson.
Local Love Fest, Friday, March 31, Frequency, 9 pm: An annual celebration of Madison bands, Local Love Fest is both a concert and a CD, available each year only by attending the show. Among the 14 bands covered on the 2017 compilation are Dick the Bruiser, The And, Skintones, Sexy Ester and Droids Attack. Compilation participants who will perform at this year's show are Dr. Noise, Help Desk, Rogue Rat, Mhos & Ohms, the Gran Fury, White Bush Unicorn and Derx Brax Band (pictured).
Foxygen, Saturday, April 1, Majestic, 9 pm: Many bands spend their careers streamlining their sounds; Foxygen does the opposite. The California psych duo has created five albums of sprawling indie rock that’s unafraid of experimentation — from their spacey, theatrical debut to the baroque stylings of this year’s Hang, Foxygen lets its freak flag fly high. Come salute it with them. Gabriella Cohen opens.
Bluegrass Birthday Celebration, Sunday, April 2, High Noon Saloon, 1:30 pm: Twenty years before Hee Haw took to the national airwaves, Madison had its own country music television show. Fiddler Dick Peterson found a seed company sponsor, changed his last name to Sherwood (it sounded "smoother") and hosted the polkabilly show with his band that featured his wife Goldie on guitar and bass. This big 'ol country birthday party brings together old friends on one stage including the Sherwoods’ son, Mark, whose band Northern Comfort will anchor the afternoon. With Mad City Jug Band, Bill & Bobbie Malone.
Stephane Wrembel, Sunday, April 2, Cafe Coda, 7 pm: Stephane Wrembel is one of the nation's finest interpreters of the the music of gypsy jazz master Django Reinhardt. He's released two albums on Water Is Life Records, The Django Experiment I and The Django Experiment II. The New York Observer called Wrembel "the living face of gypsy jazz." Wrembel's Oscar-nominated composition was the theme for Woody Allen's Midnight in Paris and he performed at the 2012 Academy Awards. Now see him up close at Madison's intimate new jazz venue.
Agnes Obel + Ethan Gruska, Sunday, April 2, Stoughton Opera House, 7:30 pm: The deeply literate Danish keyboardist Obel says she likes to write songs about “secrets.” Her glossy music will put a hush across Stoughton. Gruska, the maternal grandson of film composer John Williams, “might be L.A.’s next great songwriter,” according to the L.A. Times. Traces of James Blake and Sun Kil Moon inform Gruska’s compositions on keys and a guitar that was once owned by Glen Campbell.
Siamese, Tuesday, April 4, Mickey's Tavern, 10:30 pm: Leave Mickey's saturated with creativity. Dallas-based Siamese mixes ominous art pop with opulent set design and deranged alter egos. The glam rock band of four theatrically inclined friends released their debut, The Mesmerist, on March 3. With Dash Hounds and Slow Pulp.
Local Natives, Wednesday, April 5, Majestic, 8 pm: Since they formed in 2005 at an Orange County high school, Local Natives have always marched to the beat of their own Afropop-influenced drum. Now 12 years and three albums later (the most recent being 2016’s Sunlit Youth), the California five-piece remains as fearless and experimental as ever, only now with a much greater understanding of how to make a damn good pop song. With Little Scream.
Victor Wooten, Thursday, April 6, Stoughton Opera House, 7:30 pm: Victor Wooten, Bela Fleck's bassist, who The New York Times named one of the top 10 bassists of all time, has put together an all-star trio with saxophonist Bob Franceschini (Tito Puente) and drummer Dennis Chambers (John Scofield, Santana, Parliament/Funkadelic). Prepare to have your mind blown.
Riff Raff, Thursday, April 6, Liquid, 9 pm: Many rappers write songs about excessive lifestyles, but few truly live it the way Riff Raff does. The Houston emcee/human meme can be easily spotted by his cornrows, golden grill and vibrant sartorial choices. But to really understand Riff Raff is to hear him — his tracks are a master class in the summer party, bass-heavy vibe of southern rap, and he’s collaborated with everyone from Gucci Mane to Childish Gambino to the Dirty Projectors' Amber Coffman. His latest, Peach Panther, dropped last year. With DJs Afterthought, Strategy, Davilla, Trini.
Find the full rundown of this week's Isthmus Picks here.