Take a seat in a comfy chair at the Barrymore. Nurse a beer along the wall in the Frequency's back room. Listen up for a little mellow acoustic. Brace yourself for some screamo catharsis.
No matter where you like to hear your music, no matter what kind of music it is you want to hear, Madison's summer music calendar has something for everyone.
With so many gigs on tap over the next three months, here's just a sample of our summer concert season, from Atwood Avenue to East Main and spots in between.
Justin Townes Earle
Barrymore Theatre, Tuesday, June 16, 8 pm
On his first two albums, the son of Steve Earle has charted a course more reliant on traditional country than the roots-rock songs of his dad. Earle, 27, released his sophomore album, Midnight at the Movies, this spring. It's a twangy collection of tracks that shifts from rustic and old time ("Black Eyed Suzy") to modern and polished ("Can't Hardly Wait").
The title track is a sparse and delicate ode to loneliness. On that song, Earle laments "ain't nobody waitin' home for me." That won't be true at the Barrymore in June, when fans will line up outside to see Earle play.
High Noon Saloon, Tuesday, June 30, 9 pm
This Brooklyn, N.Y., indie rock band has one of the catchiest tunes of early summer currently circulating on college and satellite radio. "Percussion Gun" brims with rapid-fire beats and keyboard hooks that are as charming and drenched in angst as the rest of the band's second album, It's Frightening.
The band is especially adept at conjuring intense moods with unusually stark percussion and melodramatic piano ("Lioness"). It's sure to fuel more than one adrenaline rush at the High Noon next month.
High Noon Saloon, Friday, July 3, 10 pm
Anyone who thinks electronic music gives short shrift to the art of live performance will think otherwise after witnessing a Babyland performance, full of rhythmic pyrotechnics. The veteran L.A. duo (around since 1991) is made up of Dan Gatto on vocals and electronics and Michael Smith on percussion.
This is the electronic show of the summer.
Majestic Theatre, Friday, July 10, 9 pm
Indie rock is often highbrow and academic. But the Hold Steady have managed to forge a Springsteen-like, blue-collar sound that has topped alternative charts in recent years. Earlier this year, the band put out a live album, A Positive Rage, that recasts tracks from previous releases in the real-time love of diehard fans.
One thing's for sure - if you dance to the Hold Steady's songs at the Majestic in July, you'll be drenched in sweat by concert's close.
Frequency, Tuesday, Aug. 4, 7 pm
The hyper-agitated screamo of this L.A. band attracts two kinds of live onlookers (at least as documented on YouTube). There are the male dance thrashers who flail around with robotic and quasi martial-arts movements. And there are those in the back of the room too stunned by the spectacle to even move.
Katsumoto! thrive on the raw energy of hardcore punk and are sure to tear up the Frequency in August.
Orpheum Theatre, Wednesday, Aug. 5, 7:30 pm
Seventeen-part medieval rock operas might not appeal to everyone, but the Decemberists' new CD is the most creative of 2009 so far, and one of the best.
The protagonists of The Hazards of Love are William and Margaret. They are lovers trying to beat back the jealousy of William's powerful queen mother and a murderous villain called the Rake. If the band stay true to the format of their spring tour, Colin Meloy and his crew will play Hazards from start to finish as their opening set, followed by a second set of older material.
If Shara Worden of My Brightest Diamond shows up to sing "The Wanting Comes in Waves" with Meloy, as she does on the album, this will be the local concert of the year.