Eclectic Japanese alt-rock band CHAI and Brighton-based rock quintet The Heavy Heavy are performing at the Memorial Union Terrace on Oct. 7 and 8, respectively. CHAI will be opened by Madison funk-pop duo JENNY 123; The Heavy Heavy will be opened by Minneapolis indie and punk rock group Creeping Charlie. Hosted by the Wisconsin Union Directorate (WUD) Music, the free performances will feature these distinct, memorable artists who each provoke and electrify.
“Our goal is to cultivate a community on campus through the power of music, as well as share new music we think other people should hear,” WUD Music representative Devon Hill explained to the Daily Cardinal. “Unlike other schools, we book hundreds of shows that are always free and always a good time.”
The student org has gained a history and reputation for bringing in bands on the cusp of popularity. As an example, on Feb. 28, 2020, The Sett in Union South hosted the band 100 Gecs. The hyperpop duo would reach their current google trends peak six months later in Aug. 2020. Some additional examples include Megan Thee Stallion in fall 2018, and Chance the Rapper back in spring 2013.
Bands like CHAI and The Heavy Heavy are among the numerous featured artists WUD Music highlights every year for both students and the community at large. Their music ventures intrepidly into new directions but never loses a modicum of sincerity or wholesomeness.
The first, CHAI, is a blast: eccentric, charged, infectious, but underscored by a youthful light-heartedness that reaffirms self-love and individual “cuteness” or “Kawaii”-ness. The four-piece Japanese group packages this ethos in their self-proclaimed philosophy: “Neo-Kawaii.”
Everyone is “KAWAII in [their] own way,” CHAI says on their official website. “Not everyone needs to follow the stereotypical image of KAWAII.”
Their first studio album “PINK” released in October 2017 and grasps tightly on this spirit of bolstering and self-affirming fun; it bellows out rhythmically “YOU ARE SO CUTE NICE FACE” on tracks like “N.E.O.”
The cut “GREAT JOB” on their 2019 studio album “PUNK” is lyrically about housekeeping. However the banality is drowned beneath highly kinetic drums and basslines interjected by refrains like “Get power! Fresh Feeling” and the occasional “GREAT JOB!”
CHAI’s newest album “WINK” takes a different stylistic route with a more subdued, mellow rap and R&B influence. Even so, the band doesn’t lose its delightful and charming trivialities: softly vocalizing offerings of donuts and chocolate chips over smooth, dreamlike synth layers. Small pleasures like these make CHAI an affable presence in the alt-rock realm.
The Heavy Heavy is a rock quintet out of Brighton, UK whose music reinvigorates and transforms a sound distantly familiar in a part of our cultural psyche. The UK-based band is led by Will Turner and Georgie Fuller.
They describe a goal of “pushing past the confines of reverential pastiche” tied to nostalgic and almost-mythic names like Fleetwood Mac, the Rolling Stones, Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath, and even Kate Bush, as stated on their official website.
In turn, the band’s debut EP “Life and Life Only,” which released in June 2022, nods reverentially to an era of acid rock and “sunshine pop” redolent of cross-country travel and pastoral enchantment. Their vocals in “Miles and Miles” are saturated with reverb and sound like something you’d hear from a The Mamas & The Papas record.
The whole project evokes the bursting of color… of being sun-drenched and on the road… of recalling a vague nostalgic cultural memory from the vantage point of the present. It feels good, which is exactly what Fuller intends the music to do: to “make [people] feel good.”
“I think that students should be excited about these shows because they offer a great on-campus experience that is completely free,” Hill said. “We work hard to make sure that there is something for everyone.”
CHAI and The Heavy Heavy are set to perform on the Memorial Union Terrace on Friday, Oct. 7, and Saturday, Oct. 8 at 7 p.m.
Editor's note: This article was amended at 5 p.m. on Sept. 30 to include the information that Megan Thee Stallion and Chance the Rapper performed as guests of WUD Music. The story was also altered at 11:00 a.m. on Sunday Oct. 2 to correctly align the day of the week with the dates. It now says Chai will be performing on Friday, Oct. 7 and The Heavy Heavy on Saturday, Oct. 8. The days of the week previously written were Saturday and Sunday and did not align with the correctly-stated dates of the events.