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Thursday, March 30, 2023
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Excuse Me Who Are You? performs during Arthurfest at the Nottingham Cooperative on Jan. 28, 2023, in Madison, Wisconsin.

Arthurfest rocks the Nottingham with impressive indie lineup

Four bands, two DJs and one amazing show — Arthurfest, a fundraiser-turned-DIY music festival at the Nottingham Cooperative, raised the bar for local music in Madison, creating a performance that will shine on in Madison indie history.

I attended Arthurfest primarily to take photos, but I felt compelled to write a review after hearing the performances. The sheer energy and sense of community stirred me to describe the experience for others and bring more attention to these amazing bands performing within our community.

The festival was a birthday celebration for Arthur Machado, a local musician, music journalist, DIY concert promoter and University of Wisconsin-Madison student. 

Despite some technical difficulties — including a broken speaker and a soundless microphone — the concert found itself underway. Clandestine Chemistry performed the first set and created a chill atmosphere before the other, faster acts began.

Soon after, emo and pop punk band Tiny Voices took the stage. The energy they created was immeasurable. Tiny Voices gave one of the most energetic and frenzied live performances I’ve ever seen. It was impossible not to partake in the fun — I had to hand my camera to a friend so that I could join the mosh pit.

Excuse Me, Who Are You? (EMWAY) played next. While their energy matched that of Tiny Voices, they brought a rawer spin to their performance. Several crowd members enthusiastically joined the band in their performance and jumped on stage with the band to sing along with their songs, bringing a chaotic and lively zest to the set. The highlight of the entire night was when EMWAY performed their last song, “... In the Test Chamber.” The crowd went absolutely crazy.

Sex, Fear — pronounced Sex Comma Fear — came on after EMWAY. If I had to describe their sound, I’d say it falls somewhere between “math rock meets Mission of Burma” and “Midwest Emo meets Unwound.” Of note were their performances of “Matt’s Song” and “Funko Pop,” during which Matt Jarosinski, one of the band’s vocalists and guitarists, busted out some impassioned dance moves.

Watermelon Collie performed the next set, bringing a more mellow vibe than the other bands. That isn’t to say, however, that the performance was slow or boring — Watermelon Collie sustained the high energy despite the lateness of the evening. The vocalist had a great stage presence, keeping up the mood between songs and interacting with the crowd.

Arthurfest closed out with a DJ set by Arthur himself alongside fellow DJ Manateemailbox. Several of the bands dedicated songs to Arthur, and at one point they sang “Happy Birthday” to him.

Admittedly, I left relatively early into Arthur’s set since I had to walk a long way home and it was snowing heavily, but what I heard before leaving left a good impression.

Throughout the night, all I could think to myself was, “Wow, this is good. Like, really good.” Arthurfest made me want to dig deeper into the Madison DIY scene, to explore other local bands thriving right under my nose. 

I can’t wait to go back to the Nottingham, or any other local show, for that matter. I can’t wait to see Tiny Voices, EMWAY, Watermelon Collie and Sex, Fear again, and I certainly can’t wait for the rest of Madison to experience them for the first time, too.

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Drake White-Bergey

Drake White-Bergey is the Photo Editor Emeritus of the Daily Cardinal. You can follow him on Instagram at @whitebergey.photography and on Twitter at @DWhiteBergey.

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