As a horde of people crowded into the High Noon Saloon on Thursday night, it became quite clear that the night would be filled with sincere appreciation for the music. I soon found myself completely surrounded by denim-shirt-wearing, Pabst-Blue-Ribbon-holding music fanatics.
Nearly two hours before Alex G arrived on stage, Crumb — a dream-rock group with a tinge of surf rock — kicked off the night. Fronted by vocalist Lila Ramani, the group melded mind-bending guitar riffs and cloud-like vocals with popping percussion, making for a unique twist on the hazy dream-rock.
Building off of an extremely energetic crowd, Crumb did everything they could to ride their momentum to new heights.
“Shoutout to Aunt Jackie!” Ramani said as the set neared a close. Two days prior, Crumb’s van broke down on the road. Thanks to beloved Aunt Jackie, the band was able to get a new car and continue their cross-country tour. It was clear how grateful the group was to be on tour with Hovvdy and Alex G; thanking Aunt Jackie seemed to be their way of showing their gratitude for being able to perform for so many new fans.
It turns out that the fans were equally as gracious for being able to see Crumb perform. Immediately following the customary post-set thank you’s, the audience erupted into screams for an encore — a tradition usually saved for the headliners. Alas, the night was still packed, and there was no time for an encore.
The crowd’s thirst for more music was quickly quenched by Hovvdy (pronounced howdy). Beginning their set with a strong amount of energy, the band presented a set that quickly mellowed out. While talented, Hovvdy’s set drastically changed the energy in the crowd. A sharp shift in the energy of the music led to a sharp shift in the crowd’s excitement. Insignificant conversations sparked up throughout the crowd — a clear sign that Hovvdy lost a firm grasp on their audience.
A lengthy intermission between Hovvdy’s finale and Alex G’s debut left the audience filled with a sense of angst. When Rascal Flatts’ “Life is a Highway” blared through the speakers as the lights dipped to black, a wave of excitement washed over the crowd. Alex G had arrived.
Diving straight into a four-song introduction of songs new and old, (Sandy) Alex G and his accompanying band mates filled the crowd with renewed vigor.
A raucous affair, Alex G’s set rode a fine line between genres. Folk, alt-rock, experimental and noise-rock melted together into a scattered array of tracks that, miraculously, seemed to flow together flawlessly. One minute the concert was an all-out assault on the ears, the next a soothing comedown from the thunderous drums and guitar.
“That’s the end of our set,” Alex G said upon abruptly finishing the last track on their setlist. Then, he opened up for requests from the audience. A cacophony of song titles rang through as Alex tried to decipher specific requests from the crowd.
Selecting roughly four songs for the impromptu, fan-led encore, Alex G and friends took time to improvise sections of the songs with extended jam sessions. Abby Sherman of the Madison band Trophy Dad was also invited on stage for a brief duet with Alex G.
It was a night of variety from all the performers, so much so that the differences and originality of each band brought a larger sense of cohesion to the entire show. Fans mumbling as they exited the venue made it clear that each band had recruited a slew of new fans going forward.