Pick Your Musical Poison: Horse Feathers and Monotonix In Madison Tonight

Horse Feathers Monotonix

Last Friday night was kind of drag in that we had three shows going on that made claim to the same audience. Cloud Cult, Rogue Wave and Quasi all have that indie rock appeal. Some of you expressed a friendly consternation to me about having to choose one show over another, and for that I can only say, we’re sorry.  These things are often beyond our control.

But tonight we hope to ease this dilemma, as we are presenting two shows in Madison that couldn’t be more different: Horse Feathers at the High Noon Saloon and Monotonix at The Frequency.

This will be the third time True Endeavors has presented Horse Feathers in Madison. The first time was at the now-shuttered Cafe Montmartre on a delightful Saturday evening in September 2007. We followed that up a year later as the band appeared at the Frequency in November 2008. Neither show did great business, but that’s sort of to be expected with a band that possesses such subtle beauty.  Justin Ringle’s voice doesn’t hit you over the head, but rather insinuates and stands apart, waiting for you to open your heart and let him in.

The music is not nostalgic or riven in the old timey vein of bluegrass.  No feverish fiddling or high-speed rundowns of the jammy string band. It’s the plinking of a banjo, the sparing use of my favorite instrument, the cello (be still my beating heart), the eerie effect of the musical saw, the tinkling of pots and pans for percussion.

This is Americana music by way of Portland, OR, which adds, I think, to the strong indie bearings in their sound. Despite the instrumentation, the appeal here is not to Appalachia or the gothic twistedness of a cultural backwater a la The Handsome Family, but rather the haunted places in the contemporary soul, the places where we search for meaning.

“It’s like marrow without bone, To live in a house with no home. Where the son is the darkest seed, He crawls with the curs in the weeds.”

This is music to lean into, attentively, releasing, letting go, letting in: “Only once, I’ll call off the dogs, if you call off your guard.”

If this sounds like too much work, I can only say the payoff is well worth it. That’s not to say Horse Feathers is for everyone or for every occasion.  Sometimes you just want to rock out with your cock out.  And, if that’s the case for you tonight, you best hightail it to the Frequency to catch the spectacle that is Monotonix, whom we are also presenting in town for the third time.  Not much more needs to be added, other than reprising some photos from their legendary appearance at High Noon last year.  Think Thin Lizzy as done by fearless punk pranksters. Old-school vaudevillian feats of derring-do.  Rock and roll circus clowns with lots of body hair. It’s unlike anything you’ve ever seen before.  Trust me.

-Tag Evers

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HORSE FEATHERS with special guest CAROLINE SMITH AND THE GOOD NIGHT SLEEPS and JUNIPER TAR

High Noon Saloon – 8:30pm $10 adv $12 dos – 18+

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MONOTONIX with THE HUSSY and SCREAMIN’ CYN CYN & THE PONS

The Frequency – 9:30pm $12 adv and dos – 21+

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