Superheroes don’t always wear capes, or so the saying goes. Sometimes they blend into the black backdrop on a stage and cast their powers over a crowd through the vibrations of their guitar strings. Indie rock singer-songwriter Mitski radiated this power, her chin raised and legs placed firmly in a powerful stance, regal as she watched over her kingdom at the High Noon Saloon this past Thursday.
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Lorde kicked off her “Melodrama” North American tour in Milwaukee earlier this month with Tove Styrke and Run the Jewels. After suffering through two hours of dreadful, mediocre opening acts, the crowd was getting restless.
Declan McKenna first caught the world’s attention, and my own, for his 2015 hit, “Brazil.” The song was written in protest of the worldwide soccer organization, FIFA, and their awarding of the 2014 FIFA World Cup to Brazil. This required the country to build new stadiums — which cost millions of dollars — despite many Brazilians living in poverty.
Expectations were high as I waited outside of the Orpheum Theater last Wednesday, excited to see what Mat Kearney would perform for his stop in Madison. His last album, Just Kids came out in 2015 and his last well-known hit, “Ships in the Night” dropped nearly eight years ago. I was curious to see what Kearney’s performance would unveil and I was pleasantly surprised — though he has new music, the same relaxed and upbeat songs were still there.
Keys N Krates stole the stage last Wednesday, March 7, at the Majestic with their classic trap bass and beats. The Canadian trio consisting of Greg Dawson, Adam Tune and David Matisse are on tour for their recent album, CURA. Though most electronic shows consist of a producer behind a laptop, Keys N Krates introduced a unique element of live performance throughout their set.
Judah & The Lion brought energy and positivity to the Orpheum last Tuesday night, but the openers were truly what made the performance memorable.
Vince Staples and Tyler, the Creator brought their North American tour to Madison this past Thursday, where each performed in front of a packed crowd at the Alliant Energy Center’s Exhibition Hall.
Most people know Walk the Moon from their acclaimed, overplayed pop hit “Shut Up and Dance.” If you don’t know the tune, you must have done a pretty good job at avoiding every radio station for the past four years.
In Chicago’s Vic Theatre, the room went dark and the crowd came alive. We knew what this meant — Hippo Campus was finally ready to perform, and we were more than ready to listen. Shades of blue lighting immediately hit the stage and outlined the band. Lead vocalist Jake Luppen let his voice pervade the room that had now fallen silent with suspense. His melodic tone carried the lyrics to the song “Poems” as the other band members let their instruments slowly seep into the rhythm. The beginning of “Poems” feels like a dream — unhurried and soothing. After a minute or so, however, all of the instruments come in at once to create this burst of euphoria. Although it was not clear to me at first, it now seems obvious why the band chose this song to open with. The initial dreamy feel and the knowledge that a vibrant chorus is seconds away generates this palpable, unmistakable electricity in the crowd that sets up the rest of the night for high spirits and success.
Portugal. The Man brought some of their new spirited vitality and buzz to the Overture Center.
In a dizzying and intense performance, Portugal. The Man rocked the sold-out Overture Center Sunday night.
We all have that one relative: the scruffy-looking type who keeps to themselves at family gatherings and clearly doesn’t want to be there. His hair wild, eyes lowered, Destroyer’s frontman Dan Bejar appeared to headline the second night of the annual FRZN Fest embodying this character. He took frequent sips of his beer as he crooned lyrics that sounded like poetry but felt like the deep prophecies an uncle absentmindedly drones on about at the dinner table.
While sporting flannels and hoodies, the hip musicians of Whitney transported audiences away from the thick air of the Majestic Theatre. The band had the vibes of a gang of dudes simply jamming around a bonfire on the shore of a sunset-tinted, misty lake. The sold-out crowd swayed and smiled to the indie pop tunes, basking in the hints of outdoorsy late summer nights.
The premature cold breezing through Madison seemed to subside as hip hop artist Noname graced the stage with her warm spunk at the Majestic Theatre on Monday. Body heat collected as the sold-out crowd grooved to her bouncy grooves, and the warmth of her wide, toothy smile — which never waned during her brief and energetic set — could have melted the iciest of hearts.
Louis the Child brought energy and positivity to their set at the Orpheum Friday night, with the end result being four hours of exceptional EDM.
Chicago-based rapper Noname — despite her stage name — clearly made a name for herself in Madison, because she will return to a local stage Monday for the third time within a year. She’s built up her reputation from being part of a stacked lineup at last year’s FRZN Fest at High Noon Saloon, followed by a small, free show at The Sett, to finally having her own ticketed headline show at the Majestic Theatre.
Kamasi Washington, a California-based jazz saxophonist and composer, and his phenomenal band enchanted Madison with a beautiful performance of classic jazz woven into an aura of experimentation and spirituality.
The last time Foo Fighters played in Madison, George W. Bush was president, “Brokeback Mountain” won film of the year and I was somewhere navigating middle school. Clearly, much has changed since then, yet for the Foo Fighters it's been in all of the best ways. This past Tuesday evening, the Foo Fighters cemented their place as rock gods to a sold out crowd in the Kohl Center.
Norwegian black metal moguls Mayhem put on a dramatic exhibit at the Majestic Theatre Tuesday night, playing the entirety of their highly influential 1994 debut album, De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas. Known for using pseudonyms for their stage aliases, the active lineup featured one founding member, bassist Necrobutcher, who was absent from the group during the record’s production. Active in Mayhem since 1988, drummer Jan Blomberg, who is known for his work as Hellhammer in many black metal groups, was present for the entirety of the album’s development. Singer Attila Csihar joined on temporarily to track its vocals before becoming a permanent member more than a decade later.
I was introduced to Slowdive by a close friend on a road trip more than two years ago. Zigzagging through the dry hills of southern California in May, I was intrigued by the group’s mellow psychedelia. My occasional listening and modest fanhood provided a gateway into the shoegaze genre, but my expectations for their live act were inadequate. Witnessing their profound showcase served to reinforce the value of seeing live music.