The Madison concert scene will return in full force this fall. With a sprawling slate of shows lined up, there’s something for everyone as we welcome back the joy of live performance. There’s a fantastic mix of newer and classic artists, with some up-and-coming newbies along with some big-time names. Here are some of the highlights from a loaded lineup:
Trombone Shorty - August 31 at The Sylvee
About a week before classes start, Trombone Shorty will bring his southern Louisiana suave to The Sylvee. Hailing from New Orleans, Trombone Shorty (or Troy Andrews) mixes classic elements of New Orleans swing and big band music with a more modern, funk approach that keeps his sound contemporarily viable.
His music and style in general have a somewhat seductive quality, making this show a vastly underrated place to take that special someone. It also makes The Sylvee, with its intimate, personal setting, the perfect place for him to perform. Likely accompanied by a large supporting band, Trombone Shorty is undeniably a showman and his concert should be a spectacle as much as it is a performance.
Dinosaur Jr. - September 13 at Majestic Theater
90s kids rejoice! The legendary alternative rock band will bring their heavy sound to the Majestic Theater, a strong start to a stellar fall concert season. Headed by one of the truly great guitarists of his generation, J Mascis, Dinosaur Jr.’s hard-rock sound is made for live performance. You’ll definitely need earplugs for this one, as even on their recordings the volume swells and shifts are immense.
It’ll be interesting to see what kind of energy level the 55-year-old Mascis brings, but at the very least his masterful guitar playing will speak for itself. In fact, there’s almost no one guitarist that fits the word “shredding” more than Mascis. Expect nothing less than several jaw-dropping guitar solos. The group is also just a few months removed from releasing their first album in five years, so there should be a healthy mix of new tracks and classics from the 90s.
Tom Segura - September 15/16 at Overture Hall
Stand-up comedy is exceedingly difficult to be good at. For proof, look no further than the vast array of Netflix specials. Tom Segura may not have quite the combination of wit and charisma that, say, Dave Chappelle does, but in the brutal world of stand-up, he’s about as consistent as they come. There’s something endearing about his dad-like persona and stage presence — a fact he clearly knows and takes advantage of. Segura’s laid-back style helps tremendously because emotionally he never gets too high or too low. He tends to stack jokes on top of each other, getting increasingly ridiculous and vulgar as his set progresses.
Segura is the type of comic that is just passively funny. Listening to him read the newspaper could be a form of entertainment. Knowing he’s performing in a college town, Segura might very well double down on the antics and ridiculous stories. Either way, in the world of stand-up Segura is top-notch, and in this day and age you’ll be hard-pressed to find a better show than him.
Japanese Breakfast - September 18 at Majestic Theater
Michelle Zauner, a.k.a Japanese Breakfast, will hit Majestic Theater just five days after Dinosaur Jr. Still fresh off her critically acclaimed breakthrough album, Jubilee, Zauner appears to be entering the prime of her career. She’s also the type of musician that figures to have a captivating presence on stage, which comes from a combination of music and demeanor.
Despite delivering two very solid records before Jubilee, her third album seems to be the one that kicked her career into another gear. It was only a matter of time, as Zauner is a supremely talented songwriter with an ear for catchy, bittersweet melodies. In other words, this is prime time to see Japanese Breakfast live. Her dreamy, shoegaze-inspired layers of sound promise to wash over the audience in an intoxicating way.
Slow Pulp - November 4 at Majestic Theater
The Madison natives Slow Pulp will grace the Majestic Theater in mid-fall. Hometown shows almost always have a higher caliber of energy and excitement, and Slow Pulp is one of the most promising bands to emerge from the underrated Madison music scene in some time. Characterized by beautiful melodies, a spaced-out sound and the powerful vocals of Emily Massey, Slow Pulp is a budding young project still coming into their own.
The group has just one full-length album to their name and is relatively underground outside indie circles. That album, Moveys, was recorded mostly long-distance in the wake of the pandemic, leaving fans salivating at the thought of what this band could do with significant in-person studio time. Chances to see young bands with this much talent and potential, at a hometown show no less, don’t come around often.
Soccer Mommy and Emily Reo - November 8 at Majestic Theater
Two songwriters with southern roots will come together for yet another must-see at the Majestic Theater. While Sophie Allison, a.k.a Soccer Mommy, has developed her lo-fi sound into Billboard-charting material, Emily Reo remains very much under the radar despite sharing many musical similarities with Soccer Mommy. Both started out with very low-tech recording situations and both of their musical journeys have led them to a more professional sound quality. However, both artists haven't forgotten their lo-fi roots and still incorporate them heavily into their music. Both musicians have an ear for pop, although Emily Reo leans more towards the noise-pop side of the spectrum while Soccer Mommy tends to have a more jangly, bedroom-pop sound — the cover of her compilation Collection is the epitome of the latter style of music.
Soccer Mommy and Emily Reo will compliment each other very well, and the show captures both artists in interesting phases of their career. Soccer Mommy has garnered some significant attention with her latest release, 2020’s color theory. Emily Reo, who has been in the game much longer, continues to toil away in obscurity as her sound evolves. Nov. 8 at Majestic should be a beautiful collision of musical minds and sounds.