With the last week of class coming to an end and finals creeping in, I’m sure everyone is relieved to get some well-deserved time off. Now you may be thinking, “What in the world am I supposed to do with all this free time now that I’m not drowning in assignments?” The answer is go to as many concerts as is physically possible.
Luckily, Madison is a hotspot for all kinds of music, so if you’re here for the summer and need something to do, follow this semi-comprehensive guide. These are the shows I’m looking forward to, but you should always take time to find new shows as well.
What better way to celebrate another semester in Madison than to kick off summer with a concert from a UW student band? Hit up High Noon Saloon May 10 to catch Trophy Dad’s first show after the release of their EP, Dogman. Be there or be square.
Keep the concerts flowing through your blood a few days later by deciding between two killer choices: rapper Ab-Soul and rock band The Dear Hunter. Unfortunately for music lovers everywhere, they both play May 14 so you’ll have to choose carefully. Find Ab-Soul at the Majestic Theatre and The Dear Hunter at High Noon Saloon.
The next choice is obvious. Madison favorite, Hippo Campus rescheduled their visit for May 18 after a last minute cancellation in April. They’ll be tearing up the stage at Majestic Theatre in front of what’s sure to be a big crowd, so get there early if you want to try and make eye contact with one of the band members.
May is the time to adventure outside your music comfort zone. A ton of smaller bands are performing across the city, and with a quick Google search you’ll be able to find something that could spark a new interest.
June is one of the best times for concerts, and on June 15, Bone Thugs-n-Harmony will be at the Orpheum. The legendary hip-hop group is definitely a must-see considering their status as a classic. Don’t miss your opportunity.
This next recommendation is a bit outside Madison city limits, but if you’ve got a way to get to Eau Claire, then do everything you can to make that happen. For the third installment of Bon Iver frontman Justin Vernon’s music festival, you’ll have the chance to see a slew of hyper-talented artists. Taking place June 16 and 17, the Eaux Claires festival is hosting Chance The Rapper, Francis and the Lights, Sylvan Esso, Danny Brown, Wilco, Tweedy and a handful of other acts that are sure to blow your socks off. Plus, if you’re a fan of camping, that’s an option too.
At this point you’re probably thinking that these tickets are going to add up quick. We’re supposed to be working to save for college right? That’s where the next recommendation (read as requirement) comes in.
Concert On the Square is an absolute essential if you’re in or around Madison over the summer. The best part? It’s free. Gather up a group of friends, a few old blankets, food and drinks and join hundreds of other people on the lawn of the Capitol for a night filled with music from the Wisconsin Chamber Orchestra.
Starting June 28, you can catch this amazing experience every Wednesday until August 2. Do yourself a favor: go have a spectacular night with your closest friends and family.
I’m going to cheat again and throw in another festival that is outside of Madison, but it’s a Wisconsin essential: Summerfest. Superstars like Red Hot Chili Peppers, Migos, Big Sean and Future will all be headlining, which means their shows will cost a bit extra, but it’s worth it. Other stars like Steve Aoki, Flume and The Shins will all be playing on side stages, which means you can see them for a super low price of admission. On top of that, there’s endless potential to discover new bands playing on one of the 11 different stages. This year T-Pain will also be performing one night which basically guarantees you’ll have the chance to hear him make “mansion” and “Wisconsin” rhyme while actually in Wisconsin. It’s pretty much a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Summerfest runs from June 28 to July 9 in downtown Milwaukee.
Indie folk band The Mountain Goats will be at Majestic Theatre on July 8 to woo the crowd with a flawless combo of fun alt-rock and modern folk. Their music is extremely pleasing so grab a friend and stroll on in. Even if you haven’t heard them before, you won’t regret it.
This list only goes through the beginning of July, but it’s a solid starting point for some of the bigger acts that will be in the area for everyone who’s spending the summer in town. This summer is a perfect time to explore new places, try new things and find new music. Make the most of your time off.