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Friday, April 19, 2024

Second annual Arthurfest draws large crowd of Madison music lovers

The charity show in late January boasted 10 bands and raised more than $4,500 dollars for local community center Neighborhood House.

Cymbal clashes, heavy bass lines and fast fingers on the guitar cut through the room as the band Mio Min Mio, headed by University of Wisconsin-Madison senior Arthur Machado, faces off against Madison-based band SuperCritical. It’s an amp vs. amp battle set-style show, where 10 bands face off in five hour-long sets. Each duo alternates songs until a winner is crowned. 

Mio Min Mio’s first song starts off hot. The music is loud, people are dancing — and then they pause. Machado breathes deep for a moment, and it’s all you hear in the mic. Another pause. Then the drums, guitar and bass come back in full force as a mosh pit filled with stray elbows and pent-up energy opens in the center of the room. 

It’s sweaty, it's loud, it's high energy and there’s a mural of a giraffe on the wall next to a basketball hoop. It’s Arthurfest, Machado’s second annual charity concert and second annual birthday show.

Last year’s show, the inaugural Arthurfest, was held at the Nottingham Co-op, a venue in which Machado regularly books shows. That, too, was a charity show, and all the proceeds went toward Nottingham.

“We ended up raising a little under $1,400, which they used to spend to buy a mixing board and speakers,” Machado said. “That's the equipment that they've been using to this day.”

This year, Arthurfest migrated to Neighborhood House, a 106-year-old community center that began as a spot for Italian and Jewish immigrant women to learn spoken and written English. Today, it hosts programs for local children and has a food pantry for the community. 

Arthurfest more than tripled their profits this year to raise just under $5,000 for the center.

By the time the fourth set began, there was a palpable temperature change when you entered the performance area. Sweaty Arthurfest-goers lingered in the stairwell and hallways, desperate for a breath of fresh air. If you dragged a finger across the wall, it would come away wet with condensation and sweat. 

The DIY devotees, however, stayed in their mosh pits, where bursts of fresh energy punctuated the stale air. 

“It's so hot and humid because a bunch of people are jumping around and having a good time,” said Elias Dorsi, a member of local band Bug Moment. Dorsi’s band played the second set against its rival for the night, another band named Kule. “That’s really all you can ask for.”

He’s telling the truth. Some attendees were first-timers who likely saw the posters plastered around campus and social media, but many were veterans of Madison’s DIY music scene. Earplugs stuffed ears all around the hall, vibrant foamy accents that foretold the volume Arthurfest bands would aim for. 

“It's going to be loud,” UW-Madison senior Camila Trimberger-Ruiz said before the show. “I hope you brought ear protection, they're trying for the loudest show ever.”

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Many of the aforementioned veterans were there just for Arthur, a renowned show booker beloved by many members of the Wisconsin DIY scene. 

“People throw around the term microcelebrity a lot, but I think he genuinely is one,” Trimberger-Ruiz said. “I've traveled across the country and met people from other states that know who he is.”

Dorsi agreed. 

“Arthur’s one of the most well-respected people in Madison's music scene, and as far as I'm concerned, if he asked us to do something, we're almost always going to do it,” Dorsi said. “He believes in us, so obviously we believe in anything that he does.”

As the final set of the night began — a faceoff between Madison-based Excuse Me, Who Are You? and crosstown rival for the night, Endswell — Kyle Kinney, who is part of both bands, grabbed the mic. They led the room in singing “Happy Birthday” to Machado and then recalled a time when a band member of theirs was electrocuted by their equipment. 

“I don’t think I want to play anymore,” they joked. “But I’d rather die here than anywhere else.”

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Annika Bereny

Annika Bereny is the Special Pages Editor for the Daily Cardinal and specializes in state news and politics reporting. Follow her on Twitter at @annikabereny.

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