WUD Music’s Official List of Lists: #1

What’s up, loyal blog readers! It’s your friendly WUD Music leadership team here. We’re a music blog, and everyone knows that in order to keep your official music blog certification, you’re required by law to publish at least one “Best-of” list every year. So we’re being overachievers, and having our whole team make a best-of list of their very own. We’ll be publishing a new one each day, so keep checking back! 

Tori Dexter (Director): Top 10 Concerts of 2014

This is a total cop out of a list. In addition to bending the rules in order to include 12 shows in my list of 10 (hey look at me, I’m the Big 10 Conference!), I added a whole bunch of honorable mentions. But hey, I’m in charge, I do what I want.

Honorable Mentions:

Jack White w/ Benjamin Booker (The Rave, Milwaukee WI)
Pretty standard explanation here – Jack White was amazing and this was a great introduction to Benjamin Booker but The Rave is just the worst. Bad sound quality, and about 6,000 degrees with 900% humidity. I looked like I’d just hopped out of a bathtub when we finally got out of there.

Jack White forbids photography at his shows, so instead, here's a picture of me doing stupid human tricks before the show started.

Jack White forbids photography at his shows, so instead, here’s a picture of me doing stupid human tricks before the show started.

Outkast (Lollapalooza, Chicago IL)
Seeing Outkast live, while fireworks exploded overhead, on what was probably their last tour ever made a ticket to Lolla worth it even if I hadn’t watched a single other show. This show would be higher on the list, but the stage was so packed that I was almost half a mile from the stage (and I’m only barely exaggerating). However, I could have been on the other side of the park and would have still mentioned Outkast on the list- c’mon, they’re living legends!

This is actually a picture that I took on my phone while physically witnessing this happen. I know, right?

This is actually a picture that I took on my phone while physically witnessing this happen. I know, right?

Revelry Music and Arts Festival (Langdon Street and Memorial Union, Madison WI)
Revelry was AMAZING, but I was working it for so long that I hardly got to see any of the artists. However, I managed to find a free half hour to watch Dillon Francis from backstage, and the experience of watching a crowd go nuts in front of a stage that you watched appear out of the back of a truck 12 hours earlier is an experience that 100% deserves a mention. Long live Revelry.

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WRECKFAST (Somewhere on Charter Street, Madison WI)
The CATCH WRECK label in Madison put on a house show where $5 got you CRASHprez, Lord of the Fly, Kiazma, *hitmayng, whoever else played before I got there, AND unlimited beer, bacon, and pancakes. I have yet to go to a single rap show that couldn’t have been improved by the addition of bacon and pancakes. Everyone else should be taking notes.

Sumo Cyco and Tartar Control (The Bovine Sex Club – NXNE, Toronto ON)
This was possibly the single strangest night of my life. Have you ever seen one of those dogs that’s so ugly it’s cute? It probably had something to do with all the Vodka Redbulls or the fact that I’d only slept once in 3 days, but this show was so weird, it was good

Now, on to the list! Drumroll please…

10. The Mowgli’s w/ Misterwives (High Noon Saloon, Madison WI)
The Mowgli’s also did a show at the Sett that was SO much fun, which would have made this list over the High Noon show, EXCEPT for the addition of Misterwives at the High Noon. The Mowgli’s are such professionals and they put on a happy, dopamine soaked set every time I see them, but I fell newly in love with Misterwives that night, and at the same time as this show went rocketing into the top ten, their EP went rocketing into my “most played” on iTunes.

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9. St Vincent (Yonge-Dundas Square – NXNE, Toronto ON)

I didn’t quite know what to expect going in to this one. I’d had her most recent album on repeat for months and she was one of the artists I was most excited to see at this festival, but her recorded stuff was just so perfectly weird that I couldn’t imagine how it would carry that over to a live show. Suffice it to say, I’m a convert, and I completely stand by the statement that a love of St. Vincent isn’t even complete until you’ve seen her live. She comes out blazing with metallic outfits and teased purple hair, dances robotically, falls off of set piece in slow motion, and does all this while continuing to be one of the best guitarists I’ve ever seen. We dipped out early to catch LE1F and Danny Brown (a show that also deserves a shout), but I’m so ready to see her again and stick around for the long haul this time. Check out this video of her set at Pitchfork Paris for a taste.

8. Volcano Choir w/ Sylvan Esso (Turner Hall Ballroom, Milwaukee WI) / Astronautalis w/ Steve Roggenbuck (The Sett, Madison WI)
Could NOT choose between these two, so I’m cheating and including them both. Volcano Choir is a collaboration between Bon Iver’s Justin Vernon and members of Collections of Colonies of Bees, and this show was the last stop on their tour/maybe their last show together? Ya never know with Justin. Anyway, they had one of the most phenomenal stage and lighting setups I’ve ever seen and my GOD that music is beautiful. Justin Vernon’s voice just breaks my heart every time I hear it. Plus, Sylvan Esso was the un-announced opener, which was one of the more pleasant surprises I’ve ever experienced.
Astronautalis was part of LitFest at UW Madison, and was one of the WUD Music shows I most enjoy bragging about. For as much as I’d talked about him and obsessively listened to his albums, I’d actually never seen him live, so I was looking forward to this for a long time. Steve Roggenbuck, a spoken word artist, was a really interesting opener, but Astronautalis was the main attraction and he did NOT disappoint. After a great set in a packed room, he went on a glorious rant about getting what you want in life right before he left the stage, and then I got to take a picture with him and he complimented my shirt. It was a good day.

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7. Dessa w/ Caroline Smith (The Majestic, Madison WI)
I know, I know, Tori put a Dessa show in her top 10, what a surprise. I don’t even need the sass from ya’ll right now. Dessa and her band regularly put on a great show, but the addition of the goddess that is Caroline Smith and Dessa’s glorious whiskey-soaked rant at the end of the show about how we live in a wonderful and unique place and should appreciate that made this show even better than any of the other 15 Dessa sets I’ve stalked.

At this show, Dessa recognized me in the crowd from when I booked her at the Sett and called me out by name - at least I hear that's what happened, but think I blacked out.

At this show, Dessa recognized me in the crowd from when I booked her at the Sett and called me out by name – at least I hear that’s what happened, but think I blacked out.

6. The Naked and Famous (The Majestic, Madison WI)
Holy guacamole TNAF puts on a great live show. It was sold out, which is always fun in the Majestic, and the lighting was gorgeous. Everyone in the band just radiated energy and passion, and my ears were ringing for hours. I was not upset about it. I honestly don’t have much more to say, this show just filled me with so much joy and every time I listen to their album, it brings me right back.

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5. Chance the Rapper (Lollapalooza, Chicago IL)
I’ve seen Chance a few times and it was honestly an amazing experience going from seeing him in The Sett with maybe 200 other people, to watching him headline one of the biggest music festivals in the world. Chance the Rapper is a natural performer – he’s goofy and charming and it was written all over his face how happy he was to be up on that stage. I really can’t say enough good things about this kid. But what really took this show from good to insane was the fact that R. FREAKING. KELLY showed up and they did “Ignition” together. Add that to the list of things I never in a million years thought I’d see. Also, shoutout to his surprise appearance during Vic Mensa’s set earlier that day – you can really tell how much those two genuinely enjoy performing together in the place they both call home.

4. Sylvan Esso (Majestic, Madison WI) / Lizzo (Some random streetcar – NXNE, Toronto ON)
Cheating again. Sylvan Esso is the coolest. With the notable exception of the topless chick gyrating all over her boyfriend directly in front of us, I loved everything that happened this night. Their album is great, but their live show blows it out of the water.
Lizzo bounced and twerked and rapped her face off on a moving train car as it careened around the city of Toronto. I have rarely seen someone tear it up as hard as she and Sophia Eris did, much less while standing on a seat or hanging off a handrail. The single bad thing about this set was that it didn’t go on for longer.

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3. Doomtree Blowout (First Avenue, Minneapolis MN)
The Doomtree Blowout is an annual banger at First Ave, and it’s been going on for 10 years now. However, the Minneapolis rap collective decided that doing this for an 11th year sounded sad (I’d beg to differ, but nobody asked me), meaning that this year was the #LastBlowoutEver. Because it was the last one, they did a show every day of the week from Sunday to the following Saturday, and we drove 5 hours up for the Thursday one. If I hadn’t known, there’s no way I’d have guessed that we were watching their 5th show in 5 days because they tore it up like they hadn’t performed together in months. I’ve been to Blowout before, but there was an energy, an urgency to this one that was completely new. Add to that the fact that P.O.S. is finally healthy and performing again after a 2 year long health scare and the killer intermission set from a bunch of local performers (including the inimitable Har Mar Superstar), and you have a near-perfect way to spend a December night in Minneapolis while skipping your last two days of fall semester.

As many members of Doomtree as I could get in a single frame

As many members of Doomtree as I could get in a single frame.

2. Run The Jewels (Lollapalooza, Chicago IL)
Killer Mike’s dancing. That is all. On top of that, the banter between him and El-P always makes you feel like you’re kicking it in your living room with a couple of friends, if your friends happened to be some of the best rappers in the game. A lot of their material came from RTJ1, they played almost every song on the album, but the best part was that they also drew HEAVILY from RTJ2, which was still 2 or 3 months away from being released at that point. It really says something about what a devoted audience they’ve created that the crowd went nuts for every single track, old and new. Even though Run The Jewels performed at a small stage in the middle of the afternoon, they turned up like they were headliners and made the whole audience believe that they should have been.

Your girl was in the 2nd row for this one. Awwww yeah.

Your girl was in the 2nd row for this one. Awwww yeah.

1. Betty Who w/ DJ Nick Nice (The Terrace, Madison WI)
I’m almost certainly biased because I booked this one, but this was THE MOST FUN show. It was a gorgeous June night, the sun was setting, I got to hang out with Betty Who’s parents for a while, I danced a lot, Betty’s set was great, tons of people showed up for it, and I witnessed Nick Pjevach (the Director in 2012-13) pluck a mayfly out of a cup of beer and eat it whole. If I remember right, we even went to Plaza (the world’s best bar, for the uninitiated) after the show was over. It was as close as I’ve come in all of my 21 years to a perfect night.

Betty Who

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Tapedeck Tuesday: 2013 Wrap-up

It’s been one hell of a year here at WUD Music.

WUD dj table

We booked THREE HUNDRED AND FIFTY EIGHT different bands. We’ve hosted rappers, comedians, and poets. We’ve booked a country fest and a reggae fest. We’ve set up for bands ranging from a guy and his guitar to a full orchestra. Our shows have survived thunderstorms, snow emergencies, power outages, construction, equipment malfunctions and insanity of all kinds.

And now we’re here, completely finished with shows for 2013 and looking back on the year, filled with deep satisfaction and desperately needing a nap. But before we say goodbye to the year for good, we thought we’d wrap things up properly. Below is a playlist of just some of the artists that made a stop here at our humble home during this arbitrary period of the earth’s rotation around the sun.

Check it out, and let us know what you loved, what you didn’t, and what you’d like to see on the playlist by this time next year. And until then, stay warm, listen to lots of good music, and have a wonderful holiday. We’ll see you back here in 2014.

 

Monday Feature: What POP ETC has taught me about true love

When POP ETC, formerly “the morning benders”, announced a name change, they paired it with a complete overhaul of their sound, alluding to a philosophy of organic development as both people and musicians. Fans of the morning benders were inevitably polarized, many welcoming the band’s new sound and image with arms outstretched. While others clamored in disbelief, accusing the band of “selling out” and becoming just another carbon copy of existing bands marked by an electro-pop sound, the use of synths, and rhythms best attributed to the ’80s. But despite the backlash they encountered, POP ETC did nothing to compromise their new image; there were no apologies, no catering to nay-sayers, nothing that showed any sign of wanting to take two steps back to make everyone happy. For a lot of people, the love affair they’d had with the morning benders was over. But the beauty about not being able to please every single person is that no matter where you end up or who you become, someone’s going to share your happiness anyway, and those people become your champions, the ones who don’t yank you backward through the threshold but who nudge you forward in the direction of where you want to go next. True love is a lot like that, from start to infinity.

Falling in love with a band is just like entering into the formation stages of a romantic relationship. The novelty grips you, you fill your waking hours with revolution upon revolution of your favorite record, waiting for the needle to drop, signaling another chapter of your love affair. In almost no time at all, you’re joined at the hip – just you and this record and every song whose melody lulls you to sleep or invokes a sentimentality you’re too smitten to shake. Every lyric is a reassurance, every crescendo becomes carnal, and every fadeout another promise. Whether or not you recognize it, this record, this snapshot of where this band is at this point in time, has already marked you, and you ease into the comfort of believing in something long lasting, if not eternal. And in a lot of ways, what you have with this music is permanent, because what is true love anyway if not timeless and steady?

This summer I woke up one morning and listened to POP ETC’s Yours Truly Session in which they presented a very stripped rendition of “Keep It For Your Own”, only to affirm the notion that less can really be more if you know which parts are worth keeping and which are better left out. In prefacing this performance and expounding on the band’s transition from the grittiness of the morning benders to the electronic vibrancy of POP ETC, front man Chris Chu declares with a soft-spoken earnestness that being able to make this kind of music is the only way he can be honest. He looks to the success of 2010’s Big Echo, in particular to the immortality of the song “Excuses”, and embraces everything it’s brought him and the band. But he’s quick to remind us that though such a remarkably lush track enabled listeners to identify so strongly with the morning benders’ music, it was never the be-all and end-all of their career or of their self-fulfillment. It comes down to change – the need for change and the need to recognize that even if you’ve found a really good thing and it works for you, there’s no reason to stop growing or to throw in the towel and say, “Alright, let’s call it a day.”

So when things start veering off in another direction, it’s not necessarily a cause for alarm. This band made this record for you as much as they made it for themselves. They offered up a piece of themselves so someone like you could learn to love what they’ve created, but when you fall in love (and maybe this is it), whatever it was you fell in love with in the first place is no guarantee of what’s to come in the future. With music, as with love, you have to accept that everyone has their time to change, and ultimately, to grow. We’re all just trying to do the best we can with what we have in a valiant effort to become more ourselves, to be as honest as we can possibly be to the kind of person we are, the kind of person we want to be. If we can give ourselves that, the kind of happiness we’re looking for won’t have to come in the form of validation from someone else, be it a stranger or someone more; it comes from within, and when shared, it comes back twofold.

It’s useless and tiresome to try to cling too tightly to something, denying its propensity to change, because you gain more from loving openly and unconditionally than from being restrictive. The transformation POP ETC have undergone has shown me how to love someone better, be it a band or a relative or even a soul mate, and how to stop being so resistant to the kind of change the person we love needs. If anything, that person will have you to thank, will think of you in the brightest light, and will keep you even closer. It’s worth the risk, the push out the door and in the right direction, because for every person who walks out after you refuse to apologize for what makes you happy, there’s someone trailing close behind who applauds what you do and who loves you all the better for wanting to be someone better.

This Weekend on the Terrace

Got a great weekend in store for you! Including some amazing bands who will be playing in Chicago at/during the Pitchfork Music Festival this weekend and a wonderful evening of salsa.

THURSDAY NIGHT: PS I LOVE YOU and UNKNOWN MORTAL ORCHESTRA (9:30 PM start time) –

Kingston, Ontario’s quick-rising duo, PS I Love You, unleashed their brilliant debut album on October 5th, 2010. The ten-track album titled, Meet Me At The Muster Station, is a relentless listen that grips and pulls the listener through just under thirty-minutes of squalling Marshall feedback, searing solos, soaring melodies and rock-steady beats and will surely be considered one of this year’s finest debuts.

Unknown Mortal Orchestra will also be performing, they first dropped into the world in late 2010 as a bandcamp account carrying a single, sweet little dose of ear candy called ‘Ffunny Ffrends’.

‘Ffunny Ffrends’ was everything you imagined it might be – alien beatnik pop music that echoed 60s psychedelia and krautrock minimalism with just a hint of gentle weirdness that suggested its roots might equally lie in the verdant indie of the equally distant New Zealand scene.

‘Ffunny Ffrends’ was immediately feted on hundreds of blogs worldwide. By the time a self-titled UMO 7” EP was then released from behind a veil of secrecy on the UK label, Sounds of Sweet Nothing, ‘who is Unknown Mortal Orchestra?’ was more than just a question on people’s lips, it was a full scale clamor for the unveiling of one of the most exciting new bands of the moment.

Check out this jam:

Ruban Nielson is a New Zealand native who had transplanted to Portland with his band Mint Chicks. UMO was a project conceived as Ruban’s escape hatch to a new musical dimension where his vision of junkshop record collector pop could be realized in a sound that recalled Captain Beefheart, Sly Stone and RZA jamming on some kids tv theme too dark to ever be broadcast.

Out of the home studio, Ruban was joined by local Portland producer Jake Portrait on bass and teenage prodigy Julien Ehrich on drums. They have been on the road all year, sleeping in ditches and running drunkenly from venues when needs be, curling ears and turning heads with their intoxicating sound all the way.

The eponymous UMO debut album was released on June 21st. It’s probably something you should listen to, both on record and on the Terrace!

FRIDAY NIGHT: MADISALSA (9:30 PM start time) –

MadiSalsa, an 11 member ensemble devoted to the musical traditions of Cuba, Puerto Rico, and The Dominican Republic has been serving the Midwest from its home base in Wisconsin’s capital since 1992. Its members bring a diverse wealth of experience to the group from their previous Latin music activities in such centers as San Juan, Los Angeles, and New York. With a repertoire ranging from traditional island classics to original material from within the band, each performance offers a wide variety of musical expression. From mambo to merengue, bolero to bomba, MadiSalsa’s exciting array of moods and grooves is guaranteed to please.

Vamos a bailar en la terraza!

MadiSalsa

SATURDAY NIGHT: MADFORK 3! – BATTLES w/ THE FRESH AND ONLYS and DELICATE STEVE (8:00 PM start time) –

Battles are an amazing New York based experimental rock-band who has put out some of the most progressive, unique and enticing music of the past decade. This is one of our most exciting shows of the summer, and we are honored to be bringing them to the Terrace! Despite the loss of vocalist/multi-instrumentalist Tyondai Braxton, the band really brought it with their second long-anticipated album, Gloss Drop. Don’t let the pile of silly string on the cover fool you, this stuff is tight and technical. It was tough to follow the critically acclaimed debut, Mirrored, but the amazing drum, guitar, and keyboard compositions which are the core to their music has only become more diverse and interesting. I dare say I much prefer their instrumental music to those with vocals.

Check out their video for the track “Ice Cream”. It really will blow your mind and is extremely visually stimulating, one of the best videos of the year due to that quality:

San Francisco’s The Fresh & Onlys  will be joining Battles on the Terrace. They play their own impressive brand of shimmering pop. Truly not to be missed, get out to the Terrace early! If you need any reason at all, check out this fantastic track and video! Perfect Terrace tunes:

Delicate Steve will be starting the show off at 8 PM, come for him as well! Another great act who you shouldn’t miss. He will dazzle you. Check out what Chuck Klosterman has to say about Delicate Steve.

Delicate Steve

“Steve Marion, a.k.a. Delicate Steve, is not your average 23-year-old musician. His complex tunes flirt with tropicalia, polyrhythms and pop, but the overall instrumental sound is not quite as straightforward. With waves of sound effects and electronics, Delicate Steve’s music is far more dense than it is delicate” -NPR

This is an absolutely unmissable show (an amazing value too), and remember that all 3 of these shows are out on the Terrace and FREE! Rain location is Der Rathskeller for all 3 shows. Have a wonderful weekend, everybody!

If you happen to be at SXSW this weekend… Darwin Deez!

Ever since I went to see S. Carey (drummer for Bon Iver), in Schubas Tavern for Tomorrow Never Knows 2011, I haven’t been able to put down Darwin Deez.  I admit at first I was skeptical when the band jumped on stage sporting the most outrageous attire, but they proved to be the highlight of the evening.  Darwin sported his signature ringlets and a head band around his forehead.  He and his band pumped out his poppy tunes and put on one of the best shows I’ve ever seen.  They stopped between songs to perform dances to remixes, and even did some freestyle rap.

The self titled debut album Darwin Deez is a quirky indie pop album you will to dance to, but don’t be fooled.  That fun upbeat tune hides a slew of sad lyrics such as “I won’t cry. I will just pretend. I’m still the one and that we are in love again.” and even some angry ones: “everyday ought to be a bad day for you.”  Darwin Deez is upbeat, and mad.  Joyous and sad.  You won’t be able to put down this record, and you won’t be able to stop dancing.

Further Readings:

Darwin Deez: Lovesick and Playful

Darwin Deez: Evolution of a Popstar

The Felice Brothers come to Sett it up this May

EXTRA! EXTRA! New and exciting news from the best music committee on Earth:   folk favorites The Felice Brothers traipse their way to Madison to play the Sett at New Union South on Saturday, May 7th a las nueve (9p.m.).

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We’re pumped.  Their studio was built from an old chicken coop but there’s no cooping up these boys.  They’ll join us in Madtown after playing the likes of Coachella and several other venues across the country, and bring with them sounds reminiscent of the Catskill Mountains and backyard BBQs.  Those whom have had the pleasure of hearing them live say concert-goers cannot help but leave the show converted.  Come and embrace the conversion.

Tickets go on sale Friday March 11th at 11am!!! $15 ($12 for UW students with ID)

Available at the Memorial Union Box Office, Vilas Box Offce, by phone at 608-265-ARTS, and online at TrueEndeavors.com << don’t wait too long to get yours!