Foals Pour Out a Sweaty, Frenetic Performance

Foals

Yannis Philippakis motioned into the crowd at the front of the stage, forming a box about ten feet wide and five feet deep. “This was about the size of the crowd we played to last time we were here,” he said in a soft Oxford accent. Of course, that was 2008.  On Wednesday night, Foals filled the High Noon Saloon.

It’s great when you can watch a band become too big for their environment. The growing pains were obvious at the High Noon Saloon — a fantastic venue, but one that could barely contain their energy. Foals have come a long way since their last show in Madison, releasing a string of acclaimed albums and touring the world non-stop (the band were doing their best to shake a heavy, South Korea-induced jetlag during the show).  Even after flying across the world, Wednesday night’s set was nothing if not intense.

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Live Concert Review: Black Rebel Motorcycle Club

BRMC

Wednesday night’s Black Rebel Motorcycle Club concert supported by thenewno2 was a tale of two musician sons of musician fathers, one studiously avoiding his father’s legacy, the other embracing it after having avoided it early in his career.

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Live Concert Review: ON AN ON, 4.25.13

On An On

My first visit to the RSR Bar left me impressed. The sprawling complex is divided into two sections; one had the feel of a more traditional college bar with pool tables and TVs, and the other a more intimate setting with the stage tucked away past the bar. (My only complaint was that the stage-side bar only had a generic American lager on tap while the other bar had a slightly better selection.)

First up was Heavy Looks, a self-proclaimed power pop band from Madison. Thursday night was their first time playing out together, but other than stating as much, their self-consciousness on stage was the only outward sign. Musically they were tight and sounded like they had been playing together for much longer. While Rosalind Greiert and Dirk Gunderson split vocal duties, I found Rosalind’s voice possessed rich tones that added to the songs, while Dirk’s was unconventional and more distracting.  Most songs ended with a flourish from the drummer Eric Wermedal, which began to seem more like a nervous tic than intentional. The band had sold me on themselves until the final song where one particular line stood out: “Twenty-five years of being bored to tears.” This band was not bored to tears, not in the least.  Check out this new Madison band when you can.

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Live Concert Review: When Madison Met Watsky

Watsky

George Watsky doesn’t make sense. Not because he’s a skinny white boy who raps. Not because he performs slam poetry to audiences who love hip hop. Not because he rhymes over sick beats about wedgie-ing Wednesday’s butt crack. It’s because more people don’t know how awesome he is.

Last Wednesday Watsky graced Madison with his presence and taught High Noon Saloon that unusual is better and lisps sssound sssexy. He describes his situation best in “All I Ever Wanted”: “My look’s wrong / I know I sound odd / But when I hit the mic the first time / I found God.”

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Ty Segall Takes Madison Crowd To The Edge and Back

Ty Segall

There’s no pretense to Ty Segall. Standing in front of a microphone at the High Noon Saloon last Wednesday evening (May 9, 2012), the shaggy blonde rocker looks like just another kid from the bus–the silent type who spent the ride to school engrossed beneath bomber headphones. But Ty Segall isn’t the silent type, and neither is his guitar. He holds it like a weapon, sputtering chaotic riffs as if he brandishing an electrified riot gun. Whether slowly entering the night’s set with The Addam’s Family theme song or spinning into guttural licks in “Girlfriend,” at a Ty Segall show, the crowd is the petri dish and the music becomes the catalyst for human combustion.

Though accompanied at the night’s opening by White Fence for two excellent tracks off their collaboration album Hair, Segall remained the focal point for swooning punks and swinging shoulders for the rest of the night.  Because Segall doesn’t sing, he purrs, and in turn the audience lost its collective mind as if gaseous delirium was being pumped through the air vents.

Somewhere lost in the mosh pit is a notebook full of song tracks and notes written in an illegible hand, but the pit at a Ty Segall show isn’t the place for music criticism or any sort of articulation. It’s the two minute ledge where we all come to fall backwards into black pools, the thrum of static like blissful wind rushing past our ears.

–Austin Duerst

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Related Content:  Gritty Psych Rockers Ty Segall and White Fence Come Together For “Scissor People” Vid

Devin The Dude Pleases Madison Crowd On 4/20 Weekend

Devin The Dude

Devin the Dude and his posse of laid-back rhyme soothers were a sorely needed respite from months of bad hip hop publicity in Madison. Blame the bad rap on the local media for propagating the word of recent club nuisances; blame the few bad apples for instigating such ruckus in the first place. Either way, no one can deny that a hip hop show doesn’t come to town without making a few fans, politicians and (most understandably) security guards a little nervous.

But the crowd and the performers at last Sunday’s performance were a jovial bunch. Houston’s Devin the Dude accompanied by the Coughee Brothaz North were clearly enjoying themselves before a crowd of smiling eyes. Amidst the blowback ether of 4/20 holiday perfume, cheers and slow-vibing pervaded cuts like “Highway,” “Do What You Wanna Do,” and “Doobie Ashtray” while Devin transitioned with vocal turntablism into classics like “I Can’t Make It Home,” and Dr. Dre’s “You.”

While hip hop may be the vehicle for references to blunts, the female anatomy and “stackin’ your dough,” the live atmosphere from a few of the underground’s finest MCs was a reminder that sometimes having a good time is the most powerful drug of all.

–Austin Duerst

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Related Content:  Live Concert Photos: Snoop Dogg at Orpheum Theater, 02.01.2011

Vagabonds and Jayhawks: Gary Louris at High Noon Saloon

Gary Louris

Last Friday (May 21), former Jayhawks songwriter and midwestern treasure Gary Louris took the stage at the High Noon Saloon, topping off an evening of heartfelt, country-tinged song.  Elizabeth Maxwell was there to soak it all in and share her impressions.  Read on for a review of the evening and a free mp3 download.

My first pleasant surprise of the evening was Ben Kyle, frontman of Romantica.  A young father (his third child, a boy, was born at 4:30 a.m. the morning of his High Noon appearance), Kyle is originally from Belfast and more recently from Minneapolis; both places ring through in his music.

Kyle’s stage presence was simple and smooth in a confluence that created one of the most genuine performances I’ve ever seen live. His voice rang of artists like Ryan Adams and Ray LaMontagne and the light country influence he claims to have looked up to was there in both the sound and the flower attached to the headstock of his guitar.

Stripped down and solo, the Ben Kyle-Ryan Adams comparison is impossible to miss. His sound is the same sort of heart-wrenching beautiful that assures the audience that these songs are rooted in true emotion.  But above all, Kyle is a storyteller. Whether it’s the stories of mini vans and family between songs or the stories of Gram Parsons and war within the songs, he has a talent for tales and the audience at High Noon hung on his every word.

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