Saturday in Der Rath: No Bird Sing w/ deM atlaS & Max Meridius

No Bird Sing Cover Photo


* The start time of this show has been pushed back from 9:30 to 10 PM.*

If you’ve spend any amount of time with me (on the blog or in *GASP* the real, live, actual world), you’ve probably figured out that I’m slightly obsessed with midwest hip-hop. So naturally, this Saturday is an exciting one for me.

No Bird Sing is making their triumphant return to Madison, this time playing at Der Rathskeller after opening for Dessa at the Sett this past fall. They’re a socially conscious hip-hop group consisting of a drummer/producer (Graham O’Brien), a guitarist/producer (Robert Mulrennan), and an emcee (Joe Horton), repping the FIX Artist Collective out of Minneapolis. Most recently, they’ve been on the road with Atmosphere, Strange Famous labelmate Toki Wright, and the newest addition to the Rhymesayers roster, deM atlaS (more on him later), on the Welcome to Minnesota tour, where they got the chance to exhibit their unique style to packed houses across the frozen north.

Their sound, “ranging from stark minimalism to lush expansiveness”, cuts through crowds with an intense, concentrated power that makes people shut up and listen. Their newest album, Definition Sickness, dropped November of this year, featuring guest spots from FIX cohorts (Kristoff Krane), SFR artists (Sage Francis), and other acclaimed Minneapolis musicians (Aby Wolf and Sadistik).

And speaking of acclaimed Minneapolis musicians, deM atlaS. After signing to Rhymesayers this fall and immediately joining the Welcome to Minnesota tour, he’s generated some considerable buzz, and for good reason. After dropping his Charle Brwn EP in early 2013, everyone took notice of his fast paced, wildly energetic delivery and lyrics describing his feelings of kinship with cartoon character Charlie Brown.

UW’s own Max Meridius will open the show up. Check out his newest single, Heir on iTunes, or Olympians, a cut from his upcoming Elysium mixtape, featuring campus favorite CRASHprez.

Call it a brain trust, call it a party, call it a rap show, but whatever you call it, you’re going to want to get to the Ratheksller on Saturday to see of some of the midwest’s best hip-hop. Show starts at 10 PM and as always, IT’S FREE.

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Friday: Now, Now with Tu Fawning and AU

Three indie-pop acts take over the Terrace Friday night at 9 p.m. The Midwest meets the Pacific-Northwest when Now, Now shares the stage with AU and Tu Fawning.

Now, Now have been attracting attention in the Midwest for half-a-decade (As “Now, Now Every Children” until 2010) with their meloncholy indie-pop songs featuring Cacie Dalager’s delicate vocals and room-filling instrumentation. With March’s release of the Minneapolis trio’s sophomore LP, Threads, the attention-grabbing has reached a far greater scope. The album was their first on Trans Records, owned by Death Cab for Cutie’s Chris Walla, who made them his second signing to the label. Produced by Howard Redekopp (Tegan & Sara, An Horse), the young band’s Threads is described by Consequence of Sound as “an exploration of the push and pull of growing up and growing apart.” The success of the album landed them recent tours supporting The Naked and Famous and fun. After playing the Terrace, and before supporting Motion City Soundtrack on a 29-date national tour in October and November, Now, Now will jet off to the UK to support the August 27th release of Threads – so don’t miss them before they leave the States.

As Now, Now are now on a Pacific-Northwest-based label, run by one of its legendary residents, they’ll surely have a lot to talk about with the two opening bands from the indie utopia of Portland. You may have caught AU opening for WHY? in Der Rathskeller a few years ago.  If you did, then you probably know something that someone introduced to the band through their April-released third LP, Both Lights, probably wouldn’t be able to detect: They’re a trio. Their experimental pop sound is so full, and at many times frantic, it’s hard to believe that beings with only two arms and two legs could produce it. No shortage of praise can be found from publications like Pitchfork and Stereogum for their sophisticated sound and unique instrumentation. Head over to Stereogum to download two songs from Both Lights and watch the trippy, colorful video for “OJ.”

Tu Fawning released their sophomore album, A Monument, in May. However, with 31 Knots frontman and Menomena touring member Joe Haege on its creative team, they were able to bypass the normal growing pains of a band working of its follow-up and release complex-but-listenable tunes. Perhaps the best word one could use to describe Tu Fawning would be “eclectic,” with each member of the band rotating through various instruments, both recognizable and not, throughout their live sets. It’s definitely a unique and enjoyable experience, not to be missed. You can download “Anchor” over at their bandcamp. Oh, and did I mention Corrina Repp and Joe Haege are featured in a Portlandia skit also starring Isaac Brock of Modest Mouse?

Fun fact: Between the three bands on the Terrace tomorrow night, the lineups are made up of five males and five females. I’m not sure how to segue from that, but I thought it was too cool not to share. Just come to the Terrace for the 9 p.m. start of the show. You won’t regret it. Download an mp3 of Now Now’s “School Friends” and watch the video for “Dead Oaks” below.

Download>>Now Now – “School Friends” from Threads

Saturday on The Terrace: Steez

“Come and see why the Terrace is our absolute FAVORITE place to play in the whole wide world.” We couldn’t have pitched it better than Steez already did on their Facebook earlier this week. Let’s return the support by getting funky with their “creepfunk” music this Saturday night.

Steez has been gaining recognition through competitions that land them stages such as the 2008 Summer Camp and Rothbury Festival. They have even performed at the Mifflin Street Block Party of 2011, where saxophonist Andrzej Benkowski covered “Like a Prayer” by Madonna. Their debut album has also been recently nominated for Home Grown Music Network’s album of the year. With all of this praise, the music behind it must be worthy of a performance on The Terrace.

Certainly their sound is full of funk, but with the addition of electronic instruments, their music has a psychedelic twist. This intriguing combination can be heard in songs “Three Man Weave” or “Brown Lights.” To add to their great music, they also have quirky personalities which are interwined into their songs. For instance, the first video that pops up on their website is “S my D” (Scott Walker remix). It’s a protest song with a groove.

When seen live, Steez has moments where the band is purely enjoying the music they are creating- especially when each instrument goes solo. Witness their tantalizing, funky beats this Saturday starting at 9:30. I’ll leave you with a fun fact: The word “Steez” is defined as the combination of style & ease by Urbandictionary. What a perfect description of the band themselves.

Download or preview Steez’s “Three Man Weave” below. It comes from their latest album KRONOS, which you can download for the price of your choosing over at their bandcamp.

Download>> Steez – “Three Man Weave”

Madfork! Thursday: Lotus Plaza, Dent May, Milk Music. Friday: Wild Nothing, Night Moves.

It’s that time of year, again – when the indie acts that have gotten the most buzz over the last year make their way through the Midwest to play a certain festival in Chicago. Whether you’re among those heading down to the fest and its after-shows in or not, you can benefit its existence right here in Madison. The Terrace has been lucky enough to be a stop that many of the acts love making on their way up or down I-90 (technically “up-west” or “down-east,” if you like). As a result, we’ve been able to bring you our free Madfork Festival for four year’s now. I’m happy to report that this year’s will be a doozie.

Milk Music will kick off the action on Thursday at 8:30 p.m., followed by Dent May and Lotus Plaza. Friday’s show starts 9:30 p.m., where Minnesota’s Night Moves will lead off and Wild Nothing will keep the night rocking. For descriptions of each band, keep reading. And also create your own…

…as you go along! Four of the five bands were kind enough to send along mp3’s for you to download and jam to in the days leading up to the festival, while Wild Nothing sent along a stream of a track from their upcoming album. That should keep you busy until Thursday. Enough jabbering, let’s get to it!

Thursday, 8:30 p.m. start

Lotus Plaza (10:50 p.m.)

Guitarist for Deerhunter by day, multi-intstrumentalist Lockett Pundt brings his shoegaze solo project to Madison. Lotus Plaza’s sophomore LP, Spooky Action at a Distance, evokes feelings of floating through a dream through echoing, driving guitars. The album has received massive critical acclaim, labeled ‘Best New Music’ by Pitchfork and securing them a spot in Pitchfork Music Festival.

Download>> Lotus Plaza – “Strangers” from Spooky Action at a Distance

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Saturday on the Terrace: R. Ring w/ Archie Powell & The Exports

Kelley Deal’s résumé is nothing less than impressive. She broke onto the music scene in 1992 when she joined The Breeders, led by identical twin sister and Pixies member Kim Deal. Even casual music fans would recognize the trademark bendy lick of “Cannonball” from 1993’s Last Splash, a song that for which the music video was directed by Spike Jonze and Sonic Youth’s Kim Gordon, and an album that The Breeders supported with a tour on which they opened for some band called Nirvana. The Breeders didn’t release a follow-up to Last Splash for another nine years, but Kelley was successful with various other projects in the meantime, heading alt-rockers The Kelley Deal 6000 and forming a supergroup with members of Skid Row and the Smashing Pumpkins called ‘The Last Hard Men.’ After releasing two more albums with The Breeders in 2002 and 2008, Deal has formed yet another band with Mike Montgomery of Ampline. That band is R. Ring, who will be playing the Terrace this Saturday with Archie Powell & The Exports at 9:30.

After decades of making loud music with her various projects, R. Ring is a departure for Deal, with songs that are dynamic and described in their bio as “sparse, chaotic, abrasive and lulling, often within the same song.” Deal has traded in the aggressive vocals common of The Kelley Deal 6000 for a more melodic and relaxed approach. Predominantly acoustic guitar, the instrumentation makes no effort to be flashy, stripped down to complement Deal’s honest vocals. Their sole release so far is a 7″ for this past April’s Record Store Day (which you can listen to at Misra Records), but there is no shortage of buzz surrounding this duo of rock veterans. Make sure to check them out on Saturday.

Opener Archie Powell & The Exports are also a must-see, a power-pop quartet from Chicago. Their tunes are nothing short of infectious, making your heart shake like the tambourine that makes an appearance in many of their songs. A mix of Elvis Costello and The Replacements, pure rock guitars and Powell’s boyish voice make the band’s catalog a collection of feel-good tunes, even though the subject-matter of their songs is often commentary on the darker aspects of life. Their third album, May’s Great Ideas in Action, is no exception, featuring “Powell’s signature blunt, sardonic lyrics,” as Sam Clark of Playground Misnomer describes them. You can preview that album and the band’s other releases for free at their bandcamp, so there’s no excuse to not be singing along with every catchy hook tomorrow night. Also head over to their YouTube channel to view their collection of fun, humorous music videos.

Both bands are definitely worth your time tomorrow, and it looks like this heat wave is supposed to let up by then, so it should be a great night for music. Watch R. Ring play “Fall Out and Fire” at the Texas State Capitol Building for this year’s SXSW below, and we’ll see you at 9:30 on Saturday.

Friday Night on The Terrace: Cory Chisel and the Wandering Sons + Stolen Silver

Here’s a combination that you will most certainly want to partake in: sitting on a classic Union chair, gazing out at moonlit waves of Lake Mendota and becoming mesmerized by the soulful, blues-rock artists Cory Chisel and the Wandering Sons and Stolen Silver.

This Friday, Cory Chisel and the Wandering Sons headline the night to bring citizens of Madison their unique bluesy feel. Originally from Babbitt, MN and Appleton, WI, Cory Chisel has moved throughout the states searching for music inspiration. The son of a preacher, Chisel grew up sheltered from pop music, but still managed to develop a talent for music. Cory Chisel and the Wandering Sons’ song, “Born Again,” which was co-written with Brendan Benson, describes Chisel’s mixed feelings toward his religious background. Rolling Stone also named Chisel one of the “Best New Artists” of 2009 for “Death Won’t Send a Letter” (though he’d already made four albums by then). The chill guitar tones and expressive lyrics deserve to be recognized.

Friday’s show comes on the heels of Tuesday’s release of Old Believers, which was inspired by George Harrison and Elvis Costello. You can preview the entire album over at AOL.The album has been eagerly awaited, with Rolling Stone premiering song “I’ve Been Accused” months ago. Chisel is poised to establish himself as one of the most prominent blues-rock artists in the nation, which is why we’re honored to host this free show featuring a hometown hero.

Opener Stolen Silver who has been gaining their own traction in the Chicago area. This melodious band combines folk and rock genres to create their varying sound. Steve Forsteneger from the Illinois Entertainer describes Stolen Silver as, “oaken harmonies to fit somewhere between Fleet Foxes and Seryn… you can call them the local chapter of Bon Iver-induced soft-rock revival.” Their debut self-titled album includes diverse songs, such as the pop-rock “Please Stay Strong” and acoustic-folk “Favorite Waste of Time.” You can preview or buy the album at their bandcamp.

So, show up at The Terrace at 9:30 to witness these two bands together perform their folk/bluesy creations. What an intriguing night. Check out the video for “Times Won’t Change” below.

This Thursday Night: Elephant Revival with PHOX

Who doesn’t love a transcendental folk band? This Thursday night on the Terrace, Elephant Revival and PHOX will be hauling their plethora of folk instruments to make each and every audience member ogle at their folky awesomeness.

With roots in Colorado and Oklahoma, Elephant Revival is the epitome of Americana folk bands. The band employs a wide array of instruments like washboards, stomp boxes, banjos, musical saws, mandolins, violins, and an upright bass, producing a hauntingly resonant sound for only five members. Not too surprisingly, each member plays multiple instruments during their shows.

In July, 2008, Elephant Revival released their self-titled debut album, produced by David Tiller (Taarka, ThaMuseMeant). Their second album, Break in the Clouds, was released in November, 2010. Now known as one of the pioneers of the genre “transcendental folk,” The band has recently played with Michael Franti, Bela Fleck, and the Yonder Mountain String Band. Akin to Horse Feathers and many other great folky-bluegrass bands, Elephant Revival will undoubtedly make you ready to give up your day job and learn the banjo.

Opening for Elephant Revival is PHOX, who originally started in Baraboo, WI.  The band plays most of the their shows in Madison and surrounding areas. PHOX has that swanky, rock nostalgia sound that is perfect for hand-holding on a warm summer evening. Check out recently released EP Unblushing at their bandcamp.

Get your folk-loving behinds out to the Terrace tomorrow night for some Americana therapeutics. Download Elephant Revival’s “Drop” and check out a video for the unreleased “Remembering a Beginning” below, and head over to the calendar to see what other great shows you can catch on the Terrace.

Download Elephant Revival’s “Drop”

Natty Nation at The Memorial Union Terrace this Saturday

There are a select few bands that become established names in the Madison area, and on Saturday night, as they celebrate their 17th Anniversary together as a band, Natty Nation comes to The Terrace.

This positive style of music, found in both the lyrics of Natty Nation’s songs and the upbeat blend of instruments, grabs the attention of any audience and influences many to dance. How could you not? Considered to be a Hard Roots Rock Reggae and Dub Band, their songs such as “Suffice” and MAMA Award-winning “Negus Negast” (download below) are prime examples of a renowned reggae beat. However, Natty Nation makes reggae their own by including hints of electric guitar, and embedding positive messages about peace and respect into their lyrics.

Not only has Natty Nation played on stages that include Summerfest, SXSW, and FreakFest, but they have also backed up legends of reggae Lee “Scratch” Perry and Chaka Demus. Their talent certainly has been recognized since they have been awarded thirteen Madison Area Music Awards including the Best World Artist two years in a row, and been nominated for many others. Fortunately for the citizens of Madison, this Rock Reggae treasure is performing Saturday night at the Memorial Union Terrace for free. They ought to have a significant crowd to celebrate their music.

Download Natty Nation’s “Negus Negast”

Thursday: The People’s Temple, Psychic Twin, + Pale Girls, 9 p.m.

Get psyched for a psychedelic night on the Terrace. Michigan’s The People’s Temple will share the stage with Illinois’ Psychic Twin and Madison’s Pale Girls on Thursday. It’ll be a Midwest showcase that will leave your ears ringing and blood jumping.

Making their home in the Spartan city of Lansing, MI after forming in “the farm fields of Michigan,” The People’s Temple create a 60’s-flavored blend of psych, folk, punk, and garage rock. Their guitars resonate for miles, forming a wall of sound that evokes something of an out-of-body experience. Their classic raw and frantic sound, which is displayed in the “Axeman” video at the bottom of the page, helped 2011 debut Sons of Stone garner rave reviews, including a 7.8 rating from Pitchfork that insisted “it strikes an electrifying balance, recreating not just an era’s sound, but its spirit.” Their universally-appealing passion makes this show a perfect venture for music fans of all shapes and sizes.

Lead-in Psychic Twin will have you dreaming on your way to The People’s Temple’s set. Also originating from a Big Ten town (Champaign, IL), Psychic Twin may be a new band but they’re by no means green; Erin Fein and Brett Sanderson had already made music together for a decade before forming Psychic Twin, having both been members of indie powerhouses Absinthe Blind and Headlights (the latter of which were no stranger to the Terrace). That experience has helped create finely-crafted psychadelic dream-pop tunes that have the band already receiving national buzz and make their future debut highly-anticipated. You can download two tracks, “I Want to Forget” and “Gonna Get Her” over at Spinner.

Getting us started at 9 will be Madison’s own Pale Girls. Don’t let the name fool you; the band is made up of four strapping young lads. Like Psychic Twin, despite not having released an album yet they’ve caught the attention of a devout fan-base, attracting concert-goers with an energetic, guitar-driven live show. Check them out on Facebook for more.

Don’t miss this one. These are the kinds of concerts the Terrace atmosphere is perfect for. Sit back and let the sounds wash over you, tomorrow night at 9 p.m.

This Saturday: Lucy Michelle and the Velvet Lapelles with Save the Clocktower

As University of Minnesota natives, Lucy Michelle and the Velvet Lapelles started off in a regular college house, not expecting much to rise from their jam sessions. However, Lucy Michelle’s personal lyrics mixed with her bright ukelele sounds really gave this band a unique vibe to spark nationwide intrigue. She’ll bring that successful formula to the Terrace this Saturday at 9:30.

On June 11th, MTV premiered the band’s fourth album, Heat, which was written about Minnesota’s chilling temperatures during the winter of 2010. The album was produced by Brooklyn’s own Matt Boyton, who has previously worked with bands like Beirut, Bat for Lashes, and even MGMT.  With their energetic and refreshing rock sound, this band will undoubtedly blend perfectly with the Terrace’s summer feel.

Opening for Lucy Michelle and the Velvet Lapelles will be Chicago’s own Save the Clocktower. The band’s sound is a combination of alternative melodies with a laid-back, electronic beat. It immediately makes you ready to roll down the windows and take a drive.  The band will surely play songs off their upcoming third album, Through the Glass, due in July. (Update: Download new single “Like That” at Ear Milk)

See you on the Terrace this Saturday for some home-grown, Midwestern entertainment. Grab the “Just A Kid” mp3 below, watch the video for it (Spoiler: there’s a cute bunny at the end), and head over to Lucy Michelle and the Velvet Lapelles’ site to stream all of Heat.

Download Lucy Michelle and the Velvet Lapelles – “Just A Kid”