This Week’s Nightlife and Giveaways: Giving Thanks For Great Music In Madison

We hope you all had a great Thanksgiving!  The sentiment is felt year-round, but since the recent holiday has us thinking about it on a deeper level, please allow us to extend thanks to our awesome blog readers and Madison concert-goers, without whom the Madison music scene would hardly be as vibrant as it is!  You guys rock, and we look forward to sharing exciting performances from a diverse crew of talented artists for many years to come.  Speaking of exciting performances, we’ve got three (very different) shows coming up this week that you could win tickets to!  Melt-Banana‘s experimental punk, CunninLynguists‘ hip hop and Colbie Caillat‘s laid-back acoustic pop sounds will all grace our city this week.  Read on to find out how you could attend their shows on us!

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Pitchfork Gives Local Artist Zola Jesus Some Love

Zola Jesus

“…the music, in nodding to avant-garde and proto-goth forbearers while using back-in-vogue bargain-basement production, sounded both familiar and fresh..” –Pitchfork.com

We’re predicting great things for this Madison-based rising star.  Check out Pitchfork’s full review of Zola Jesus’ recently-released full-length album, The Spoils, and our interview with her here.

Monday Concert Connection: Going Underground

rootbeer

There has been an all-too-familiar chill in the air these last few days.  While it’s not yet time to dig a burrow and start hibernating, let’s “go underground” this week with shows from garage punks The Spits, and Rootbeer‘s delicious danceable hip hop.  Read on to find out how you could win tickets to the shows.

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Punk: A Beginner’s Guide

Joe Strummer, of the Clash

Joe Strummer, of the Clash

Well Joe, you called it.  The suits did their best to turn your rebellion into money.  To a great deal of people living in the post Hot Topic world, the very idea of punk is viewed as little more than a cute “phase.”  It’s part of life, right?  Infant, toddler, kid, punk, adult?  Oh they grow up so fast!  In all fairness, if all you knew of the genre was green hair, ripped t-shirts and pissy snarls then such a dismissive eye roll might indeed seem fitting.  However, to those who are willing to discover it, punk’s first wave was as much a fiercely intelligent, unapologetic call to arms as it was sarcastic, bratty and crude.

Read on to discover some of the seminal tracks of this often under-appreciated movement.

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Farewell to Ron Asheton

Ron Asheton

On January 6th, groundbreaking Stooges guitarist Ron Asheton was found dead in his home in Ann Arbor, Michigan. The cause of death, though not confirmed, is widely speculated to have been a heart attack. The following statement was posted on The Stooges’ website:

We are shocked and shaken by the news of Ron’s death. He was a great friend, brother, musician, trooper. Irreplaceable. He will be missed.

For all that knew him behind the façade of Mr Cool & Quirky, he was a kind-hearted, genuine, warm person who always believed that people meant well even if they did not.

As a musician Ron was The Guitar God, idol to follow and inspire others. That is how he will be remembered by people who had a great pleasure to work with him, learn from him and share good and bad times with him.

Iggy, Scott, Steve, Mike and Crew

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I am in shock. He was my best friend.

Iggy Pop


Ron Asheton’s legendary sound was, in the words of Primal Scream’s Bobby Gillepie, “really fucking sexy and wild and reckless and free.” It was actually the impact of experiencing such reckless freedom firsthand that initially attracted him to music.

“We went to see The Who at the Cavern,” said Asheton in the oral history of punk, Please Kill Me. “It was wall to fucking wall of people. We muscled through to about ten feet from the stage, and Townshend started smashing his twelve-string Rickenbacker. It was my first experience of total pandemonium. It was like a dog pile of people, just trying to grab pieces of Townshend’s guitar, and people scrambling to dive up onstage and he’d swing the guitar at their heads. The audience weren’t cheering; it was more like animal noises, howling. The whole room turned really primative–like a pack of starving animals that hadn’t eaten in a week and somebody throws out a piece of meat. I was afraid. For me it wasn’t fun, but it was mesmerizing. It was like, ‘The plane’s burning, the ship’s sinking, so let’s crush each other.’ Never had I seen people driven so nuts–that music could drive people to such dangerous extremes. That’s when I realized, this is definitely what I want to do.”

Scott Asheton, Ron Asheton, Dave Alexander, Iggy Pop

The Stooges from left: Scott Asheton, Ron Asheton, Dave Alexander, Iggy Pop

It’s no overstatement to say that Asheton, with The Stooges, created some of the most important, thrilling music of all time. Personally speaking as a fan, Iggy and The Stooges have long been one of my favorite groups. From first listen I adored the brutality of their music and the brilliance of its protopunk simplicity. It was, and still is, the musical manifestation of unbridled rebellion. No matter how many times you listen to their music, The Stooges never fail to sound, and in turn make you feel, badass.

Asheton in action

Asheton in action

I’ve spent more time than I’d like to publicly admit to engaged in the epic Raw Power vs. Fun House debate with fellow hopeless music nerds. Though I still maintain that Raw Power is superior and guaranteed to knock anyone’s socks off, the truth of the matter is, you can’t really go wrong with any early Stooges creation. “No Fun,” “I Wanna Be Your Dog,” “Gimme Danger,” “Down on the Street,” “Loose,” “I Need Somebody”….they’re all undeniably excellent listening, and part of a musical legacy that any band would be more than proud to have.

Ron Asheton wasn’t only a vital contributor to a great rock group, he helped inspire countless other hip young guitar slingers to make similarly thrilling, uncompromising music. As fans around the world say goodbye to this massively respected, and talented musician in their own ways, I’ll be blasting “1969” from my speakers well into the night. Thanks for the music, Ron.

-Shelley Peckham

Ron Asheton jacket

Editorial: Too Indie For Our Own Good?

turntable

Indie music has had quite the evolution from its humble beginnings to its current condition.  Once simply a name given to DIY small labels and underground bands operating outside the much maligned confines of major corporations’ machines, now “indie” is commonly used to express collective associations with fashion, political beliefs, and even personality traits. Stemming from their love of music, indie fans have essentially created their own niche in pop culture, but what sort of impact has doing so made on modern music scenes?

“Music scene is crazy/bands start up each and every day/I saw another one just the other day/A special new band…”

-Pavement, “Cut Your Hair”

There’s no doubt that the internet has played a massive role in forming indie culture, ensuring that all things associated with it reach the largest possible audience.  Music fans commonly check in with music blogs as their meter for what’s cool and what’s not.  And who can blame them?  With the massive amount of bands already established and the seemingly endless string of new bands being formed at all times, there needs to be an effective way to sift through it all.  Frequenting music websites and locating blogs featuring the tunes and musicians who move you can be an invaluable resource in terms of staying up to date, expanding your mp3 collection, and discovering new artists–that is, when used in moderation.

Taking our musical cues from outside sources in excess has a downside.  Too often, having these sites instantly available at our fingertips fosters a culture of slothfulness and minimizes the significance of our own musical experiences.  How so?  Let’s consider Pitchfork.  Any indie kid worth his/her salt has visited the site at least once.  Full of in-depth album reviews and artist interviews, Pitchfork provides a one-stop-shop for absorbing a slew of engaging perspectives on music.

Pitchfork

The site, though, is starting to become THE authority on what’s hot and what’s not.  A good review on the site can do wonders for an up-and-coming band, while a poor one can mean the end of the road.  “If your band isn’t popular on Pitchfork, it might as well not exist,” is quickly becoming the implied sentiment in the critical community.

While it’s true that sites like Pitchfork who utilize a clearly knowledgeable staff of writers can provide some degree of guidance to music fans, they have become something of a hipster cool kids club that encourages listeners to mold their own judgments around the site’s predetermined ones.  Readers are presented with what they “should” like rather than an unbiased evaluation of the art itself.  Didn’t really care for Fleet Foxes self-titled album?  By the time you’re done reading Pitchfork’s review, you’ll be trying to convince yourself otherwise.  I mean, it got a 9.0 rating for Christ’s sake! It MUST be good. Don’t really “get” Radiohead?  Might as well kiss your credibility card goodbye.

The idea that disagreement equates to poor taste devalues individual opinion, morphing us into a society of sheep–even more so than we already are.  The music scene will be a much healthier place once we realize that part of the joy in fandom is choice.  Being able to articulate why a band or artist is uniquely special to you is a joy that many indie kids are missing out on.

Q uncut NME Rolling Stone Spin Blender

It’s worth noting too that the indie-friendly online music community is also having an impact on its print publication counterparts.  It’s no secret that American music mags leave something to be desired (especially compared to the in-touch approach taken by well-respected UK ‘zines like Q, Uncut, and NME). Rolling Stone just isn’t what it used to be, to say the least, and rags lilke Spin and Blender never used to be much of anything to begin with.

If American music magazines want to stay successful they need to begin devoting more effort to creating exclusive content such as compelling intelligent artist interviews and commentary with personality as the online community has done, rather than projecting themselves as a shallow, celebrity-crazed, sex-heavy time killer.  American print media just isn’t going to be able to compete with the immediacy and significance of web-based music news outlets unless their focus changes dramatically.

“Seen your video/That phony rock ‘n’ roll/We don’t want to know/Seen your video/Your phony rock ‘n’ roll…”

-The Replacements, “Seen Your Video”

As I mentioned above, it used to be that indie music was considered such because it was, well, produced independently of major labels.  While that still holds true for a great deal of bands out there, the term “indie” is also now being applied a little too liberally.  Now, it seems as though bands are achieving indie status through their clothes more so than their music.  It used to be that you could approximate what a band sounded like by how they dressed.  But with the increasing popularity of formerly indie-exclusive fashions like skinny jeans and vintage dresses, anyone within driving distance to Urban Outfitters can project themselves as a cookie-cutter product of a scene that they don’t have any legitimate affiliation with.

Jonas Brothers

Take major label darlings like The Jonas Brothers for just one example of fashion’s growing conflict with music.  They are, essentially, a pop wolf in indie sheep’s clothing.  Skinny jeans?  Check.  Trendy graphic t-shirts?  Check.  Hair styled to messed-up perfection?  Check.  They’ve got it all except the sound to match.  It’s the real-life verison of that scene in High Fidelity where John Cusack’s character admits, “I felt like all those people who suddenly shaved their heads and said they’d always been punks. They just went and suddenly get a razor from http://factschronicle.com/best-electric-razors-of-2017-revamping-your-outlook-by-shaving-1377.html, and went ahead with the shaving, for me it felt like a fraud.”

As was the case with punk rock, the popularization of genre staples like leather jackets, studs, and hair dye, has cheapened the music itself.  If you can be “punk” by simply throwing on some Converse sneakers, what does it even matter that bands like The Damned, The Buzzcocks or The Heartbreakers even existed?  The messages and sentiment of the art (rebellion, individuality, irony, and–ahem–DIY) become lost to swarms of twelve year old mallrats with guyliner and anarchy symbols stamped on their Ts.

When you can pledge allegiance to a certain code of art without having the perspective or intention to back it up, the art itself becomes the joke.  Anyone who genuinely cares about the music that they listen to should take the consequences of these trends seriously.   In the current indie scene, as in the punk world, the music becomes secondary when, as Joe Strummer tongue-in-cheekily painted across his chest, “passion is a fashion.”

Joe Strummer

“We hate it when our friends become successful/And if they’re northern, that makes it even worse/And if we can destroy them/You bet your life we will destroy them/If we can hurt them/Well, we may as well…” –Morrissey, “We Hate It When Our Friends Become Successful”

Is it wrong to expect current indie bands to operate in the same manner as their predecessors?  After all, it’s hardly the same ballgame.  With the emergence  of quick methods of mass communication in the music world such as individual blogging and Myspace.com, bands are gaining fans at an unprecedented rate, leading to fewer and fewer true underground groups in existence.  It used to be that the greater difference in the talent to popularity ratio equated to legendary indie status.  Now, it’s hard to tell which groups even qualify.

Take Oasis for example.  The self-proclaimed “best band in the world” has certainly been one of the most financially lucrative.  The controversial and beloved Mancunian group has played to crowds of millions, topped the charts on numerous occasions, been awarded some of the highest honors in the music community, and its members have achieved A-list celebrity status.  So, can they still be labeled “indie” the same way that groups like Voxtrot or The Brian Jonestown Massacre are?  Well, why not?  Though they’ve had their share of major label involvement, Oasis got their start on Alan McGee’s Creation Records, one of the most famous and influential UK indie labels, and are now recording on their own label, Big Brother Records.

Big Brother

Somehow, though, their high levels of success and popularity has made their indie roots irrelevant in the eyes of the music community.  In this way, indie music has become self-destructive.  Commercial success is frowned on to the point that many bands find themselves facing an interesting choice at some point in their career:  Reject financial security, or reject credibility.

“I miss the innocence I’ve known/Playing Kiss covers/Beautiful and stoned…” –Wilco, “Heavy Metal Drummer”

As much criticism as I have for some of the components of the current indie music scene, I can’t deny that at heart I’m a fan, as many of the most exciting, intelligent, enjoyable, progressive and important bands of the last few decades have fit into that category.  Though I’m concerned by some of the things happening in pop culture as a result of its success, I’m actually looking forward to what will come next. With thoughtful change, I have faith that indie music can become more than a just cool kids club.  We owe it to ourselves to be conscious of how our culture is manipulating the world around us as well as how we can assure that it changes into something positive.

–Shelley Peckham

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Shows This Week & Free Downloads

Summer has rolled in as tour buses roll away but we’ve got a couple of good ones for you this week..

Monday May 26

If you’re in to The Avett Brothers or Okkervil River check out..

True Endeavors and Muzzle of Bees present: LANGHORNE SLIM AND THE WAR EAGLES with THE BUILDERS & THE BUTCHERS

“I’m not sure that there’s’ any other kind, but the songs I write are love songs. Some are literal, about specific events, people and relationships in my life; a form of therapy, self-help for the flowers and the crap along the road of life.” -Langhorne Slim

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4 Free Langhorne Slim Song Downloads:

Langhorne Slim- English Tea, 2006 Unreleased Daytrotter Sessions

Langhorne Slim- By the Time the Sun Comes Down, 2006 Unreleased Daytrotter Sessions

Langhorne Slim- She’s Gone, 2006 Unreleased Daytrotter Sessions

Langhorne Slim- Restless, 2006 Unreleased Daytrotter Sessions

Daytrotter

8:00 pm @ High Noon Saloon 608.268.1122 $10 adv – 18+

BUY TICKETS NOW!

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Thursday May 29

If you’re in to Jason Isbell, Ryan Adams, or Steve Earle you also like (trust me)..

THE EVERYBODYFIELDS with special guests MARTHA BERNER & KATIE SAWICKI

“..deeply rooted in americana, bluegrass, and classic country..Here you still find the slow, sad sounds of halfway there, but there is a new strength to the sound, a vein of rock and punk that is so well hidden, you don’t even know it’s there” -LastFM

Everythings OK- The Everybodyfields

Interview- The Everybodyfields

2 Free Everybodyfields Song Downloads:

The Everybodyfields- So Good, 2007 Live at The Grey Eagle

The Everybodyfields- Nubbins, 2007 Live at The Grey Eagle

8:30 pm (8pm doors) @ Cafe Montmartre 608.255.5900 $10 at the door / $10 adv – 21+

BUY TICKETS NOW!

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We don’t have any nationally touring shows for you this weekend but there is some good stuff going on around town..

This Friday May 23 some of our local faves including PALE YOUNG GENTLEMEN, SLEEPING IN THE AVIARY, and others are hosting a Whatfor CD Release Party at the High Noon Saloon- 10:00 PM , $5 cover, 21 +

This Friday is also the monthly IQ party if you are more in the mood for a DJ. Local hostess Liz Tymus is throwing the Marquee Pre-Party from 9PM-11PM and dance party 11PM-2AM at the Majestic, 18+.

Saturday May 24 offers up a variety of Latin and African based music including El Clan Destino- the Afro Cuban project of local bassist Nick Moran. The benefit for African Youth Outreach at Cafe Montmartre costs $10 per adult, $7 for students with a current ID, 9PM, 21+

What are you up to this week? Tell us what else you recommend!