Tag’s Reflections on 2008

Our first show in 2008 was Poi Dog Pondering, performing an acoustic set at High Noon, with one of my favorite regional bands, Romantica, opening. Such a great way to start the year

February, the shortest month of the year, was long on pleasant surprises. Basia Bulat’s set at High Noon was so endearing, and her single “In The Night” remained one of my favorite songs of the year. Sara Bareilles played live on The Today Show and then, that same day, flew into Madison for her sold out show at High Noon; her piano-driven set made it obvious there’s a lot more substance to her than the ubiquitous “Love Song,” as catchy as that song is.

Nicole Atkins blew us away with her single, “The Way It Is” from 2007’s Neptune City…it’s an amazing piece of post-modern cabaret and it went down smooth at Café Montmartre. The opener Parlor Mob, with their loving send-up of Led Zep, was a fun contrast. And, speaking of metal tributes of sorts, who can forget Bang Camaro and their cheaper by the dozen approach to old-fashioned cock rock?

February was also the month Matt Costa’s van and trailer went off the road on an Iowa highway on their way to High Noon. Though rolling over three times, the band escaped with only minor injuries. We’re grateful that was the worst of it and look forward to Matt’s return. (Yes, Wisconsin winters are a challenge, so be careful out there folks!)

Trampled by Turtles March 7th at High Noon sold out unexpectedly. From the rush of people going outside to get a cigarette and the people making their way back inside on that frigid night, I joked it was no longer trampled by turtles–I thought I was going to be trampled by human beings!

The Gutter Twins required us to bring in so much additional gear you would have thought that they were playing in from of 3,000 people instead of 300. Predictably, Greg Dulli was cheery and Mark Lanegan was not. The legendary X performed on March 21 at the Barrymore for a very fun show — it was the first time I’d ever seen a grey-haired moshpit.

Jens Lekman played Old Music Hall and demonstrated how the right artist at the right venue can create pure magic, in contrast to the night before with Lewis and Clark at the Annex in which we had the right artist at the wrong venue. Actually, that was also the case with Gary Louris & The Mekons, a great pairing at the Barrymore at the end of March that was dramatically under-attended, possibly due to The Weakerthans and AA Bondy playing the same night at High Noon. It’s tough playing traffic cop. Sometimes there’s no getting around these scheduling conflicts.

→ Free Download: Sounds Familiar – The Weakerthans

April 4th we had Vampire Weekend at High Noon. It sold out weeks in advance, benefiting from cover stories in the national press before their record had even been released. Sometimes we get lucky.

One of the coolest shows of the year was Blitzen Trapper with Fleet Foxes on a Tuesday night early show at High Noon in early April. Fleet Foxes and Blitzen Trapper would go on to receive end of the year acclamations for two of the best albums of the year.

On April 11th we had the first of 2 Bon Iver shows in Madison – this one a sold out show at the Stage Door–another artist that would go on to be on everybody’s top 10 list for 2008.

The New Pornographers with Okkervil River at the Orpheum…how cool was that? The word the day before the show that Neko Case had broken her leg reminded me of other female artists who played the Orpheum in years past with sprained ankles or broken legs, including Feist and Ani DiFranco. But Neko would not be making it until she came back to headline the Forward Fest in September-still the New Pornos/Okkervil show was a blast, with much discussion following as to which band was better. (My vote, diplomatically, was a tie.)

Black Rebel Motorcycle Club was the first band I’d ever seen that posted strobe warnings for the benefit of those with epilepsy and other conditions whereby they might go into a seizure. VERY INTENSE — enough to make people with “normal physiologies” dizzy and pass out. Dead Meadow played May 5th at High Noon’s fourth anniversary party–great stoner rock show, and True Endeavors supplied free pizza to celebrate the occasion.

Tegan and Sara played Madison a couple of times in years past to relatively small crowds – in May they came back and sold out the Barrymore Theatre. In contrast, Jim White again put on an amazing show at the Stage Door to a very small crowd. Sometimes quality is rewarded with a big show, sometimes not. Fortunately for us, we had our share of sell outs to wrap up the spring season, thanks to The Avett Brothers and Josh Ritter at High Noon, and KT Tunstall at the Barrymore.

→ Free Download: Snow Is Gone – Josh Ritter

MJ and I were at the National Conference for Media Reform the first weekend of June. We had the honor and privilege of stage-managing the conference where we rubbed shoulders with the likes of Bill Moyers, Dan Rather, Naomi Klein, Amy Goodman, Van Jones, Arianna Huffington, and Senator Byron Dorgan. www.freepress.net

June had some unexpectedly strong shows, starting off with the ever-strange, ever-amazing Buckethead. Stephen Marley sold out the Barrymore, and one of 2008’s most anticipated events was the sold out performance at the Overture with The Swell Season-music from the motion picture Once, featuring Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova. One of the special moments for me of the entire year was when Glen stood way from the mic and busked “Say It To Me Now” with his worn-out guitar and raspy voice, much like he did on that Dublin street in the early part of that amazing film.

→ Free Download: Buckethead- Three Fingers, 2005 Enter the Chicken

Speaking of the Overture, I hope you caught Lyle Lovett’s riveting performance in July – the 13-piece band, which grew to 20+ with the addition of local gospel singers from Alex Gee’s church, made this one of the top shows of the year.

The political hip-hop of Immortal Technique sold out High Noon in July and I was amazed at the number of leftie slogans on t-shirts, evidence that apathy is not a fair way to characterize this demographic. The Hold Steady sold out the Majestic convincingly and unsurprisingly for what many might argue was the best show of the year. Unless you are a Toadies fan, in which case you might make the case for their sold-out show with The Whigs on July 31 at the Annex.

→ Free Download: Chips Ahoy! – The Hold Steady

In August we were blessed to host at the Barrymore none other than She & Him, whose brilliant debut Vol. 1 was Paste magazine’s album of the year. The Onion’s over-the-top snarkiness notwithstanding, Zooey Deschanel and M. Ward put out one of the best albums of the year and their performance was wonderful, simply wonderful.

→ Free Download: She and Him- Why do you Let me Stay Here?, Volume 1 2008

We started the fall season with over 60 shows on sale. In reality, there’s just a glut of touring acts on the road these days, mainly because artists cannot make a living making records due to illegal downloads.

Big shows in September included Okkervil River with very special guest The Walkmen at the Barrymore. Both bands released new records that month and both performed amazing sets…without a doubt this was one of the best shows of the year. Australian surfer dude/didgeridoo-playing Xavier Rudd made his first appearance in Madison…his set was perhaps the most unusual of the year. The Dandy Warhols put on a great show to a smallish crowd, leaving us wondering if tough times were ahead.

Sure enough, we had more disappointment with shows like Abigail Washburn, Keller Williams, and Reliant K. It soon became obvious that the economy was going to be a factor. For the first time in all the years that we’ve been in business, it became clear that Madison wasn’t isolated form the recession affecting the rest of the nation.

Part of the problem, as already noted, was the sheer number of shows, all booked before anyone had heard of sub prime. There were 38 shows in the month of October alone. Among those shows, we had standout performances by Ray LaMontagne, Ryan Adams and the Cardinals, The Magnetic Fields, Nick Lowe, Pinback, Alejandro Escovedo, Murs, Lucinda Williams, Stephen Malkmus and the Jicks, finishing up with a sold out Halloween performance by Atmosphere.

→ Free Download: Magnetic Fields- Always Where I Need to be, Live

Can’t forget that Electric 6 and Local H sold out the High Noon unexpectedly. We were able to keep on selling after Local H finished playing and some of their fans left. Electric 6 fans were waiting and were able to get in-we had a packed house all night long

But still business suffered-disappointing turnouts for top notch shows like Ivan Neville’s Dumpstaphunk, Southern Culture on the Skids, The Kooks, Sonja Kitchell, Dead Confederate, Stephen Kellogg and the Sixers, Amy Ray, Augustana, Slightly Stoopid, and The Acorn reminded us that we were, yes, in a recession.

In November, the number of shows dropped off a bit, but the quality was sky high. Amos Lee, Michael Franti and Spearhead, Horse Feathers, My Brightest Diamond, Devin The Dude, Subtle, The Rosebuds, Eagles of Death Metal, Deerhunter, Ingrid Michaelson (her second successful appearance at the Barrymore this year),Matt Nathanson, Pelican, Gaslight Anthem, Ladyhawk and Susan Tedeschi all put on memorable shows.

December was an unusually strong month for us, with well-attended and nearly sold out shows by Sharon Jones and Carrie Underwood mixed in with sold out shows by Bon Iver and the BoDeans. Unfortunately, we suffered a cancellation by The Sadies, only our second of the year – Matt Costa in February being the other. We look forward to getting both of them back in 2009.

A word about Sharon Jones & the Dap-Kings: we promised you this would be the show of the year and we were not blowing smoke. While it’s impossible for me to pick a favorite among all the many shows we presented, this was certainly up there.

As great as the music has been through thick and thin, we had the great pleasure of serving our community through our fund raising wing, True Community Endeavors. This year, we raised money and awareness for the following organizations: Keep Wisconsin Warm Fund, The Progressive, WORT, Breast Cancer Recovery Foundation, Domestic Abuse Intervention Services, AIDS Network, and Liberty Tree.

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Lastly, there was a time in late September, early October, when we weren’t sure we were going to survive the economic downturn. We gradually came to the realization that we were selling concert tickets, not automobiles, and that you don’t need to take out a loan to buy a concert ticket. Indeed, people still have a need for entertainment even in difficult and challenging times, perhaps even more so, whether it’s a distraction from all the bad news or the sense of community and transcendence some glean from a great live performance.

At the end of the year, I’m again profoundly grateful for the privilege of doing what we do at True Endeavors. We look forward to the New Year, particularly January 20 and our new president — that exhale of relief alone seems to have made a difference in the local economy.

Whatever 2009 brings, we’ll be going through it together. With your help and continued support, we’ll be out there doing our best to promote a vibrant and relevant music scene in Madison.

See you at the shows!

Tag Evers

A 2008 Concert Photo Re-View

Before we look ahead to all the great shows True Endeavors will be bringing to us in 2009, maybe we should look back at some photos from 2008.  The gallery below includes an assortment of images from the shows that I was fortunate enough to attend.  From American Music Club to That 1 GuyKT Tunstall to Susan Tedeschi, Buckethead to Lyle Lovett and BRMC to EODM…it was a terrific mix of great music and interesting subjects to shoot. The full galleries for each show can be found via the “Live Concert Photos” link. Have a safe and happy new year! 

The Hold Steady

The Hold Steady

KT Tunstall

KT Tunstall

All photos © Copyright 2008 Bryan Gladding

Click HERE for more photos of these and other bands by concert photographer Bryan Gladding (In the Muck Photos)

Email IntheMuck (at) gmail.com for permission to use photos or for booking information.

If you are on our home page and would like to leave a comment, click on the title of the blog and then scroll down to the comments box

Free MP3 Downloads: Dr. Dog, The Weakerthans, Josh Ritter, The Hold Steady, The Black Angels, Califone, & Josh Harty

Low on cash, but need your music fix? Look no further! Check out these great FREE MP3 downloads from your favorite artists.

_________________________________________________________

DR. DOG

Dr. Dog

The ABCs – Dr. Dog

Adeline – Dr. Dog

Easy Beat – Dr. Dog

Say Something – Dr. Dog

Wake Up – Dr. Dog

California – Dr. Dog

Ain’t It Strange – Dr. Dog

Worst Trip – Dr. Dog

THE WEAKERTHANS

The Weakerthans

On A Beautiful Day – The Weakerthans

Prescience Of Dawn – The Weakerthans

Sounds Familiar – The Weakerthans (live)

JOSH RITTER

Josh Ritter

Thin Blue Flame – Josh Ritter

Snow Is Gone – Josh Ritter (live)

THE HOLD STEADY

The Hold Steady

Chips Ahoy! – The Hold Steady

THE BLACK ANGELS

Black Angels

The First Vietnamese War – The Black Angels

CALIFONE

Califone

The Orchids – Califone

Trout Silk – Califone

JOSH HARTY

Josh Harty

Where Did I Go Wrong – Josh Harty

Musings from Pitchfork ’08

As I sit still recovering from a last-minute adventure to Pitchfork Music Festival 2008 in Chicago’s Union Park, I can’t help but marvel at the vast quantity of engaging musicians, porta-potties and American Apparel ensembles that I had experienced over the course of the weekend. Speaking specifically to the musical component, my hat goes off to the festival organizers for arranging a lineup of artists that was well spaced out, diverse, and most importantly for a currently jobless college graduate, an incredible bargain. Below are some scattered thoughts on the festival:

I arrived late on Saturday, after getting a later start than expected when a certain blogger was still a bit hazy following a late previous night stomping around at the Indie Queer Pride Discotech. This meant missing Boban i Marko Markovic Orkestar and A Hawk and a Hacksaw, both of whom reportedly delivered very pleasing sets. My day, instead, began by seeing what all of the hype with provocatively-titled duo F*** Buttons was about. As it turned out, it was mostly about booming feedback mixed other sporadic noises — not exactly my scene. After watching a few songs, I headed over instead to observe the brave souls who had already begun charging through the many muddy pits that remained on the grounds throughout the weekend following light rain Saturday morning.

The best (muddiest) seat in the house Saturday night.

The best (muddiest) seat in the house Saturday night.

Incidentally, I was equally “whelmed” later in the festival by two other blog darlings that I’d been very much looking forward to — Vampire Weekend and HEALTH. VW’s set consisted of crisp replicas of their impeccable debut album delivered with perfect posture worthy of Sunday morning at church with the family. Combined with the heat of the blinding Saturday afternoon sun and the expected overcrowding, the set was a definite miss. HEALTH perhaps suffered from the opposite problem and reminded me of an overly stimulated puppy. That said, the large crowd assembled at the new-and-improved third, side stage seemed to jive well with their sound.

Saturday’s highlight, as it turned out, was a tie between the foul-Cockney-accent-mouthed British rapper Dizzee Rascal and the incredibly trippy end-of-the-night set from Animal Collective, followed closely behind by a disco-rific set from !!! (Chk Chk Chk), which thankfully woke the crowd up after being lulled to sleep by the faux-Transylvannian weekenders . Animal Collective’s light show was particularly impressive, perfectly complementing the act’s pulsating haunts, much to the amusement of the many, many festival-goers adding various illegal substances into mix for their set.. It was a sublime end to the night, coming just before being shaken back to reality by the cattle call to the train stop just outside the festival.

Fixie Fest '08.

Union Park's other large event of the weekend: FixieFest '08.

Sunday, I arrived on the grounds feeling rejuvenated and not-hungover, ready for more gratuitous samples of Fuze fruit drink — orange melon was my flavor of choice, by weekend’s end. Moments after stepping past the many fixed-gear bikes and the surprisingly attentive bag-checkers at the gate, I was greeted with a series of four gong hits — Japan’s Boris had begun their show, which was surprisingly pleasant for this non-metal head. Next, I ran over to the B stage to catch High Places, an entertaining calypso-sugary duo that put together a very nice set, before avoiding HEALTH’s dying-raccoon-screeches by grabbing a piece of deep-dish Chicago pizza from one of the plethora of surprisingly delectable food vendors and collecting more free buttons, stickers and coupons than I knew what to do with.

M. Ward playing early on Sunday.  He'll be back in town with Zooey Deschanel in September at the Barrymore.

M. Ward playing early on Sunday. He'll be back in town with Zooey Deschanel Friday, Aug. 8, at the Barrymore.

Ready for more music, I hid under a polka-dotted umbrella-turned-parasol while catching the end of the Dodos‘ set and claiming a prime spot for M. Ward. The Dodos’ sound was infinitely better in this setting than a few weeks prior at the MU Terrace, and their set was fantastic, only outshone by the artful mastery of music displayed by M. Ward in the set that followed.  His performance managed to give me, and likely many others in the audience, chills on the balmy summer afternoon — a feat that requires true musicianship.

Bon Iver rocking the "B" stage on Sunday at Pitchfork Music Festival 2008 in Union Park, Chicago.

Bon Iver rocking the "B" stage on Sunday at P4K.

The series of fantastic back-to-back sets continued as I headed over to the B stage to set up camp for the triple threat that I’d been most looking forward to: Ghostface Killah & Raekwon-Bon Iver-Cut Copy. Ghostface and company delivered peace, love and hip hop in a set that provided a fresh take on old school — the crowd ate it up. Bon Iver was equally satisfying, balancing his well-known falsetto with his clear curiosity of noise rock, and recruiting the audience as his own backing chorus, just as he had done back in April during his last Madison appearance at Orpheum Stage Door. A surprising bonus of the set was an impassioned Creedance Clearwater Revival cover, which helped sweeten the blow of the severe collective dehydration and claustrophobia of the large crowd gathered for the set.

The night ended with a bit of a downer, as it took festival organizers nearly a half hour past Cut Copy’s scheduled start time of 8:25 to announce that the band was caught at the airport and was delayed — it was all said and done, we unfortunately missed the abridged, reportedly amazing, set from the Australian wunderkids. Instead, we were treated to an ad hoc ensemble of the most intoxicated Chicago band members available at the time — the singer from Deerhunter, drummer from the Ponys, and a few of their compadres. Following a lilting, improvised song titled “Jelly Roll,” it was time to catch the last bits of Spoon‘s set from the very back of the large assembled crowd. Spoon’s sound fits perfectly into a festival setting, and they did not disappoint.

As many warnings as I had heading into Pitchfork of its being unorganized and amateurish, I was repeatedly impressed by what the organizers had done catering to such a large crowd in a confined space. My only real disappointment was not being able to see all of the bands that I’d wanted to due to the packed schedule requiring that difficult decisions be made — namely missing out on the Hold Steady (who went straight from P4K to rock the Majestic stage earlier this week), Jarvis Cocker and Spiritualized. Indeed, it seems the festival has overcome its growing pains and solidified a position as one of Chicago’s greatest music festivals, one that I am looking forward to attending for many years to come.

— Joe Erbentraut, True Endeavors Communications and Public Relations Intern

The Hold Steady Photos

The Hold Steady packed the house at the Majestic Theatre last night and nobody left disappointed. As one security guard put it, it was “nuts to butts” all through the theatre and The Hold Steady rocked them all. Here are a few photos from the show…

 

   

 

     

All photos © Copyright 2008 Bryan Gladding

Click HERE for more photos of these and other bands by concert photographer Bryan Gladding (In the Muck Photos)

Email IntheMuck (at) gmail.com for permission to use photos or for booking information.

If you are on our home page and would like to leave a comment, click on the title of the blog and then scroll down to the comments box.