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[Review] Teen Choir + My Morning Jacket = Awesome

After a decade spent excelling in hazy melodies,  My Morning Jackets' recently released album, Circuital, has managed to catch the attention the attention of music lovers by putting them back on track after their "Evil Urges" detour.   Circuital combines their experience with a rediscovered youthful zest. Although the album was recorded in a makeshift studio carved out of the gymnasium of a local church...according to Rolling Stone, the new record features "trippy keyboards, twisted pop hooks and fuzzed-out guitar attacks," and "feels like the culmination of the sonic adventures the band began with 2005's 'Z' -- while also capturing the power and dynamics that have made MMJ one of the greatest live bands of their generation." Check out this video of the band performing on Conan - the enjoyably daft Holding on to Black Metal suggests Evil Urges lurks in the band's DNA - but the addition of a teen choir and the horns creates an almost transcendental sound.
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Bonnaroo 2011 Backstage Interviews

Check out the following backstage interviews from Warren Haynes, Ray LaMontagne, Justin Townes Earle, The Walkmen, The Decemberists, & Freelance Whales: Warren Haynes Int Justin Townes Earle INT Walkmen Int Decemberists Int Freelance Whales Int *Photo provided by Music Allies*
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Arcade Fire to Headline Bonnaroo Friday Night

Arcade Fire captured the attention of the entire mass of 100,000+ people Friday night. 15 minutes before they took the stage, faces turned up to the sky as around 7 parachutists trailed what looked like pounds of glitter on top of the audience.  Shouts of awe rang across the field as what we all thought was glitter started raining down in a random pattern across the sky.  As it began to get closer, the mystery of the falling objects progressed into further confusion.  It wasn’t glitter – it was something else.  As I managed to jump up and grab a package, I realized that it was a packet of several bands with different colored blinking lights on them.  After people connected to lights to either their bodies or a piece of clothing, a gargantuan sea of flashing lights surrounded the main stage.  Better yet, Arcade Fire’s energized performance catered to the stereotypical Roo attendee by having a movie screen playing clips/short films behind them that coordinated with the theme of each individual song.  There were repeating images of people dressed in strange, almost doll-like outfits, a short film of people riding bicycles that looked as if it had been produced in the 70s, & colorful or colorless patterns that was designed to induce a particular feeling as you listened to each individual song’s lyrics.  You couldn’t have walked away if you wanted to.  It was absolutely magic.  If you haven’t seen Arcade Fire perform live – I would strongly suggest finding out where they’re touring this summer and buying a ticket, today if not sooner. *Photo by MusicAllies*
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Live from Bonnaroo 2011

Yesterday at Bonnaroo, you couldn’t get a free moment if you tried.  The lineup was stacked with artists that couldn’t be missed, performances that had to be heard.  Everyone seemed to be enjoying stage hopping in order to hear the wide variety of artists whose performances exceedingly overlapped.  Here’s how my day went… Ben Sollee 1-2pm Belafleck & the Flecktones: The Original Line-Up 2-3:15pm Grace Potter & the Nocturnals 3:15-4:30 Warren Haynes Band 4-5:30pm The Decemberists 5:30-7 Ray LaMontagne 6:15-7:45pm Florence + the Machine 6:45-8:15 Bobby Long 8-8:50 Arcade Fire 11-12:30 + MORE! I had a hard time making decisions – who to see, how long to stay at which performances, & when to eat/sit.  Straight from Vermont, Grace Potter proved that her music was “rock” label worthy as thousands of people watched – her voice captured a tone that most singers could not pull off in a controlled manner as she masterfully does herself.  She also impressed with her guitar skills & simultaneous head banging/luring electric piano playing.   And the Nocturnals entertained with solos from their guitarists + the happiest face that you will ever see from any drummer out there.  Ray LaMontagne also mesmerized the crowd with his shy/humble demeanor and calming voice.  His song choices included several songs off of his recently released album, “God willin’ and the Creek Don’t Rise.”  And believe me when I say they are as good live as they are recorded.  You wouldn’t have even been able to point out a discrepancy had he not sang as freely as he did.  The highlight of Friday night – the headliner. Arcade Fire, captured the attention of the entire mass of 100,000 people attending Bonnaroo.  About 15 minutes before they took the stage, something that no one will forget happened…read on to the next post for the details… Listen to the Ray LaMontagne interview below! Ray Lamontagne Int *Pictures taken by MusicAllies and Bonnaroo 2011 Cams*
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Day 1?

  It’s the 10th Anniversary of Bonnaroo and you can feel the excitement in the air as people are lining up at the main entrance from the campground.  The vendors have fully prepped everything and await the arrival of those who forgot to bring the essentials with them – food, beer, sandals  (yes, that happened).  They know that since the fest itself sold out, they’re bound to make a killing.  And they will!  I took an hour or so to check out the various stands that were set up – handmade nomadic shoes, hammocks that you can fold into a pouch, hand-crafted jewelry and clothes, it’s all there, and it’s all unique in some fashion.  It’s basically the most amazing assortment of gift shops that you’ve ever seen.  And the food – oh the food! You can find anything and everything there – as long as it’s fried or it doesn’t need to be refrigerated.  So, ya know, almost anything.  The food ranges from corn dogs to Thai food and your taste buds can be satisfied in under 5 minutes if you so choose.  Heaven in your mouth? The answer to that question is Yes, YES! There are 5 large stages – THAT tent, THIS tent, WHAT stage, WHICH stage, & the OTHER tent.  Last night, the Band of Skulls was the highlight of the 1st day of Bonnaroo.  They pulled the crowd in with music that made you want to move along with the beat – even if you’re not the dancing kind.  The crowd was up for anything and everything – they couldn’t get enough of it.  So much so that crowd surfing to the front of the stage became the “IT” thing to do because it was the easiest way to make it through the crowd, which fanned out far beyond the reach of the tent.  Never having listened to them much myself, I found myself making a note to buy their CD once I left. That’s the best part of this festival – there are so many bands that you’ve never heard of but when you make an effort to go watch them perform you could find your new music love! What will today have in store?  The line-up is stacked with Triple M artists and I’ll have an update for everyone tomorrow morning – Arcade Fire, The Decemberists, Ray LaMontagne, Florence + the Machine – they’re all here! Check in tomorrow for your ROO update!
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"I can't wait to put up our tent, it's gonna feel like home!"

Yes, that was THE best 3am quote of the car ride...here'swhy... As we left on the car ride to Manchester, TN all I could think was, “only 14 hours of hell crammed into a tiny car and you’re there!”  Thankfully that 14 hours magically turned into 10 at our driver’s refusal to stop for anything other than 1 – 1 single -  pee/gas break.  As my bladder screamed at him, my thoughts were only those of gratitude.  We were that much closer, that much sooner. After the miracle car ride, we finally made our arrival at the Bonnaroo campground at 3am. Our hearts sank as we realized that on the opposite side of the road there was a line of cars on the right shoulder that went on for at LEAST 15-20 miles.  It was an endless sea of bright lights, tents littering the grass next to various cars, and people standing outside stretching their legs as they wait in anticipation to begin pitching their tent and actually getting settled in for the weekend.  People were waiting for UP TO 7 HOURS!  Either they seriously love music, or they seriously love to party.  My guess is that it was a combo.  Getting set up was the least of our worries.  It was quick, simple, but HOT.  HOT HOT HOT.  I’m talking 90 degrees at 9am hot.  Sweat dripping down your face as you empty the first item out of the back of your car.  It may sound bad…but once you’re done it’s all friendly neighbors, smiling faces, beer & of course, music!  Read the next blog to hear about the highlights from Thursday!
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[Concert Review] James Hunter, The Majestic, Feb. 9th

James Hunter with special guest Jesse Dee The Majestic Theater, Triple M Skybox Series, Feb. 9th Our Skybox Series Grand Prize Winner, Kyna G., shared her experience with us... The Jesse Dee and James Hunter show at the Majestic Theatre was a special treat (even better in the Skybox)! Jesse Dee is a very talented musician, who definitely had the chops to impress the crowd, even all by his lonesome. His emotive voice and beautifully sounding hollow-body guitar work was a sight to be seen. After he finished we were left wondering if the headliner could top him! Well, sure enough, James Hunter and his band surely did! My friend said, “That band is best thing to come out of England since America!” Although, it was plenty cold that night, his stellar performance sure got things heated up quickly. James Hunter is the whole package, crooning voice (even despite a cold), great guitar skills, and even some crazy dance moves! Thanks much, Triple M! It was a great night!
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[Concert Review] Fitz And The Tantrums, High Noon Saloon, Jan. 30th, 2011

Fitz And The Tantrums High Noon Saloon January 30th, 2011 Fitz And The Tantrums is a band you must see live.  The 6-group band came to Madison and brought enough energy for everyone in the crowd at the High Noon Saloon (and it was full of people).  They have the art of showmanship down.  It's amazing.  Lead singers Michael Fitzpatrick and Noelle Scaggs are so complementary to each other.  If you haven't heard of the band before, you probably have heard of the song "MoneyGrabber."  Here it is below: The High Noon Saloon is the perfect venue for this group and the crowd was an eclectic mix of ages.  It's nice to go to a show where a wide variety of people like the music.  They played through a variety of their songs off their album "Pickin' Up The Pieces" and a few new hits, most notably the songs "Wake Up" and "6 AM." I think the beauty of this band is that they have a great sound that is both entrenched in the past and enterprising in the present.  They have a nice mix of indie and Motown.  Their songs are, for the most part, irresistibly good.  They have a foot-stomping storming sound that gravitates towards the drum and the beat.  Scaggs and Fitzpatrick have a great stage presence and seem to feed off of one another.  The physical and lyrical interplay between them is kinetic.  I also have to give credit to the others members of the band.  James King is incredible on saxophone and flute.  Joseph Karnes is forceful on bass.  Jeremy Ruzumka was energizing on the keyboards.  And the drummer John Wicks was great.  Wicks came on just before the encore and talked about how Clyde Stubblefield, the famous drummer from Madison, was an inspiration for him and he hoped everyone at the show would donate some money for Stubblefield's kidney transplant. The Best Moment of the Show: At the very end of the show, right before the grand finale of "MoneyGrabber," Fitzpatrick and Scaggs had everyone get as low as they could go to the floor and had everyone dance up as the song got louder.  It was so much fun. Overall: This was a phenomenal show that featured a great band playing some cool songs.  I still think this band has a lot more in them creatively and it will be great to see them get bigger and bigger.  I highly recommend that people go see them live. -Soren Nieminen
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[Concert Review] Delta Spirit, High Noon Saloon, Nov. 18th

Delta Spirit High Noon Saloon, Nov. 18th, more info at trueendeavors.com Delta Spirit shot me down at the High Noon Saloon.  I don't know what I was really expecting after hearing some of their music, but they exceeded my expectations live on almost every level.  And High Noon was crowded as well and everyone seemed to be enjoying the show. Delta Spirit has a raw soulful rock sound that is raw and potent.  Lead singer Matt Vasquez has a nice combination of soft and loud.  He isn't the most polished singer, but the whole band more than makes up for that with wild energy.  One of the my favorite songs of the night was "People, Come On" and here it is below: Participation: Delta Spirit was very engaging with the audience.  They had everyone clapping and even had a sing-a-long to their rendition of Pink Floyd's "Wish You Were Here."  Any band that pays homage to Pink Floyd is a good band in my book, except if their name is Korn. They also played through their song "Trashcan" which features a trashcan lid and that was interesting. Encore: One of the last songs of the night was "People, Turn Around" and it is an incredibly emotional song and has a nice steady beat.  Lead singer Vasquez told everyone to be quiet and it was a moment of solidarity in the audience.  Then for the last song, Vasquez took the microphone and went into the middle of the audience and told everyone to get on a knee.  He then did his version of "Shout" by the Isley Brothers.  It was an amazing ending to a great night. Overall: Delta Spirit is a band that combines the wildness of rock and the serenity of soul.  They play an excellent show and I would highly recommend seeing them live because they're a lot of fun. -Soren Nieminen
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[Concert Review] Mike Gordon, Barrymore Theatre, Nov. 17th

Mike Gordon Barrymore Theatre, Nov. 17th, more info at trueendeavors.com Mike Gordon and his band are phenomenal musicians and his concert was a contagious dance-fest.  The spirit of the mota was in the air, both literally and figuratively, but that's something that just comes with any semblance of Phish.  Almost invariably all of their songs end up in long jam sessions that are like ecstasy for your ears. New Album: Gordon released his new album "Moss" in October and a lot of those songs were part of the performance. My favorite song of the night: "Cities".  This is a cover of the Talking Heads song and it was awesome.  The piano player was really good and he could play FAST.   They also did "Soulfood Man" and I thought it was excellent as well.   Here's a video of the song "Cities" from last year when they were at they Barrymore: Lights... The light show was fantastic.  You got spiraling visceral in-your-face lights of blue, red, green and purple that were really cool.  The effect of lights and music and mood allows you get to get lost in the melodies of the songs. Venue: I feel the Barrymore is a good place to have a concert like this.  There are seats available and you can stand at the front and dance to the music if you want. The Crowd: This was a real eclectic bunch of people from all different ages.  My favorite crowd moment in the show was when one guy lit up a 'cigarette' and he was smoking and one of the security people went up to him and said, "You have to put that out."  The guy looks at the security person with a deeply blank stare, looks down at this cigarette inquisitively furrowing his brow, and then asks this person, "Why?" Overall: This was an enjoyable concert that would be fun for a lot of different people.  The jam sessions are extraordinary and it feels like Mike Gordon has a real passion for all kinds of interesting sounds. -Soren Nieminen
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[Concert Review] Donavon Frankenreiter, Majestic Theatre, Nov. 15th

Donavon Frankenreiter, Majestic Theatre, Nov. 15th, Donavon Frankenreiter has been riding the waves of success for a while, from being sponsored as a professional surfer when he was 16-years-old to recording music.  Surfing and making music isn't a bad way to make a living in my opinion.  He follows in the tradition of Jack Johnson and plays the soft rock with surfer culture motif that has been his life.  And Mr. Frankenreiter came to Madison to perform at the Majestic Theatre and put on a pretty good show. Highlight of the Show: Donavon Frankenreiter has been known for taking well-known songs and covering them, slowing them down and making wholistically different songs.  He did a really good cover of Tom Petty's "American Girl" which was awesome.  He also did the same song when he was in Studio M and you can check out the audio here. Intro Song: "Smoke on the Water" by Deep Purple.  I love it when band's have an intro song and this was a perfect one for them. Musical Motif: Donavon played through a lot of his career songs, but had some new stuff off of his new album, Glow, that was released in October.  The best song is probably the title one, but "Shadow" and "Keeping Me Away From You" are pretty good as well.  Here's the title song below: Energy: Donavon seems to me to be a pretty laid back guy.  He has a stage presence, but he isn't very engaging with the audience.  His demeanor is to let the audience sit back and enjoy the music, and I'm cool with that.  He's mellow and always offered a polite "Thanks" to the audience before introducing his next song. Overall: This was a pretty fun show to go to.  You got see a lot of ladies bearing the trademarked mustaches, but I noticed that most of them took theirs off midway through the show.  I assume they itch a lot.  Frankenreiter put on a good show and is band is composed of good musicians who know how to play and jam for the audience.  Overall, it was an enjoyable experience and I recommend everyone to at least give him a listen.  Not all of his music is my specific style, mostly because I don't really empathize with surfer music besides the Beach Boys, but he has put out some good music and his new album Glow has some great songs on it.
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[Concert Review] Dawes, The Majestic Theater, Nov. 12th

A big thanks to the Majestic Theater for hosting a great show! Although California rockers Dawes are pretty young in age they have a similar sound to bands of previous generations.  Dawes has a similar sound to some old school bands from their native state.  The Band, Crosby, Stills and Nash and Neil Young are some of the bands they get compared to most frequently. Dawes stopped by Studio M to give a great live performance and interview.  They played a few of their tracks in a really cool acoustic set.  I was immediately impressed with their talent and was taken with their sound. Take a look at their video for Love is All I Am below to hear their gentle simplicity and whimsy. After Studio M, Dawes headed over to the Majestic Theater. I was a little unsure about this concert.  After all Dawes doesn't exactly play the rock out jump around type music that make most live shows.  I turned out to be pleasantly surprised.  Even though Dawes has a laid back, easy going sound, they still played an amazing set.  They are great musicians and it was a show filled with passion and enthusiasm.  I think what makes them great live performers is their intensity.  Lead singer, Taylor Goldsmith, radiates a deep earnestness when he sings and its easy to see the fervor he has for playing music.  The most impressive thing about the group is their harmonies.  When these guys sing together its otherworldly and has the ability raise goosebumps.    The group is rumored to be releasing a new album sometime in the near future and they played a lot of new material.  Based on the songs they debuted on Friday, it should be a great sophomore record.  The new material stays true to their ethereal roots-rock style and fans will be thrilled.  The song most well received was When My Time Comes, their most popular song of their debut North Hills album.  The crowd went crazy making it clear this song it their most loved.
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[Concert Review] Fang Island, High Noon Saloon, Nov. 11th

Fang Island High Noon Saloon, Nov. 11th 2010, more info at trueendeavors.com Fang Island is an infinitely fascinating band.  Their 5-man team includes a bassist, drummer and 3 guitarists.  Almost all of their songs end up in long jam sessions that are unequivocally good because of the talent level in the group.  They exceeded my expectations of them. Origins "Ok, everyone, raise your hands in the air.  Ok, now high-five the people next to you." The band is based out of Brooklyn.  They released their self-titled debut album was released in February and has been making it's circles around.  They are known for some very interesting music videos.  The band formed at Rhode Island and added guitarist Nick Sadler who was playing with another band in the region. The Show "This is our third show in Madison this year.  You guys rock." Fang Island is such a high intensity group.  They jump around, rocking out with extreme guitar hyper-picking and have some pretty interesting songs.  They darted out right away and climbed the way through their set even faster. The played through their album for the most part, most noteworthy songs being "Daisy," "The Illinois" and "Life Coach."  I can imagine these guys being exhausted after a live show because they play fast and hard.  It's magnetic.  Here's a video of their song "Daisy" below: Audience: High Noon was about half full and it made for a pretty intimate show with the band.  They played for about an hour and it was a pretty fun set.  These guys have made some good music and you should definitely check out their album. Ending Song: So, for the encore they played a mostly instrumental piece called "Amazing" that was...good.  Then they did a cover of Mariah Carey's "Always Be My Baby" that was pretty interesting.  The whole audience sang along and it was pretty moving. Overall: The band puts on a pretty high energy and fun show.  They collaborate well and mesh with the audience.   They describe their aesthetic as "everyone high-fiving everyone" and it's an accurate depiction of what it's like to see them. -Soren Nieminen
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[Concert Review] Playing for Change, Nov 9th, The Overture Center

Special thanks to trueendeavors.com for this amazing performance! It was really an experience to see all of these people together sharing their histories and culture and bringing their differences together to make great music.  Each member introduced themselves and where they were from which was also represented by their nations flags wrapped around their microphones or instruments.  Before songs they gave a little background about its origins and meaning.  Then while they were playing all the members would groove and dance completely inspired by the music.  They did a couple of songs in their respective native languages and though I am no proficient in African languages, my lack of familiarity didn’t take anything away from the performance.  The tone and emotion of the song was still apparent, proving that music really is universal. The music they played ranged from Afro-pop to New Orleans style blues and for a while they “took us back to the church” playing songs like This Little Light of Mine.  The very cultured man behind me deduced “I think this is what they call that world music.”   The group used loads of instruments along with typical ones.  A variety of drums, a cow bell and maracas were combined with keyboards, two guitars and a bass to enhance their sound.  Having such a large group of people made for a really dynamic sound.  It also gave the group ample opportunity to have a jam session and take some solos to highlight their talents.  One of the highlights of the show was singer and lone female of the group, Titi Tsira of Guguletu, South Africa.  She did an A cappella solo and blew me away.  Her voice had so much soul and power it was impossible to ignore.  Her voice flew over a range of notes to produce a beautiful melancholy song that moved the audience.     The show closer was a great choice.  They ended the show with a fun and appropriate cover of Bob Marley’s Three Little Bird.  I love that song and hearing it will all of the African and blues influence made it sound amazing.
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[Concert Review] The Weepies, High Noon Saloon, Oct. 28th

The Weepies The High Noon Saloon, Oct 28th, special thanks to trueendeavors.com The Weepies are back and better than ever! While on their latest tour, they stopped by the High Noon Saloon and played for a sold out crowd.  I have never seen the High Noon this packed and it was an enjoyable experience. Although the crowd was large and the High Noon is a pretty big place, the show felt amazingly intimate.  Everyone was laid back and loving the mellow feel of the show.  The stage was set like someone’s living room with subtle lights and candles lit everywhere.    The band’s personal life definitely comes through with their performance.  The happily married couple has great chemistry on stage and they only enhance each other's talent.  Steve and Deb have that quirky indie vibe that just emanates from them and you can’t help but be totally fascinated.  They are exactly what you would think Juno and Pauly Bleeker would grow up to be.  The two frequently sing simultaneously and their combined efforts make for haunting melodies.  Even more so in person I think.  I was happy to hear my very favorite song  World Spins Madly On which was done perfectly.  I also was impressed by their show closer This Is Not A Lullaby.  That tune is off their new album Be My Thrill and while I wouldn’t say it’s my favorite from the record, I was overwhelmed by the extra emotion and passion Deb seemed to put into it.  The Weepies played Little Bird for their encore, a song I had never heard before but immediately took to.  I found it an incredibly written song both musically and lyrically and immediately went home to find it.      The only objection I can give about the performance was its length.  They played a great show but a little short.  I heard many people in the crowd express the same feeling and wishing they would have stayed on a little longer, even after the one song encore.
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[Concert Review] Dar Williams, Barrymore Theatre, Oct. 27th

Dar Williams Barrymore Theater,  Barrymore Theater, Oct. 27th, more info at trueendeavors.com Dar Williams definitely has a stage presence.  A commanding one.  And she is in her element in Madison, WI amongst the, shall we say, far-left crowd.  She even said that on her calendar, the Madison, WI date of the tour is always circled and starred. The opener Madison native Tracy Jane Comer was very good,  ranging from songs about coping with loss to an Elton John cover.  She was really good. Then out came the Dar... And Dar William started out the night with her song "Spring Street" and it is indicative of her strong songwriting ability.  Dar Williams was subtle and poignant and incredibly funny.  She speaks very fast and it's kind of like listening to Hunter Thompson, if you can follow her, it's brilliant. The crowd was very much into the music and she received rapturous applause after every song. This is a group who is so familiar with her career, that they began shouting out song choices for her.  The obvious one was "The Christians and Pagans" which Dar described as a kind of pickup line for Wiccans.  Here it is below: Dar Williams had the audience singing along and even some people in the audience began dancing in the aisles of the Barrymore.  The last song of the night was "The One Who Knows" and my favorite song of the night.  I just love the lyrics: "You'll fly away but take my hand until that day So when they ask how far love goes When my job's done, you'll be the one who knows." Very elegant and beautiful lyrics. The "who carries that around in their pocket?" moment of the night: When Dar broke her guitar pick, there was  someone in the audience who had an extra one and brought it up to her. Overall: Dar Williams gave a great performance that is true to her form.  She is a skilled songwriter and has a presence with the audience.  She has many stories behind her music and the quick wits to banter with the audience.  It was an interesting night to see a woman who is well-known throughout the folk movement.
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[Concert Review] Matt Costa, Oct. 26th, High Noon Saloon

A big thanks to trueendeavors.com for another great show by Matt Costa! The High Noon Saloon isn’t really one of my favorite places to go to see bands.  It can’t decide whether it wants to be a venue or just a bar.  A lot of people treat it like a bar and ignore the band while sometimes the band doesn’t seem too thrilled to be there themselves.  Last night Matt Costa was at the High Noon and I have to say it was probably the best show I’ve ever seen there.  Not only was it great for the High Noon but it was great overall.  There was a significant crowd at the High Noon and they weren’t just there for a night out, they were there for Matt. Matt started the show with a bang.  He made an entrance by surprising the audience, singing in the back, and making his way through the crowd onto the stage.  I agreed when my friend said to me, “when there’s no backstage to make an entrance, the middle of the crowd is the way to go.”  Matt played great and transitioned from song to song seamlessly.  Although he didn’t talk to the crowd much he still made an effort to connect with the crowd and really put on an incredible show. He took a couple requests from the audience and led a sing-a-long to Astair. My favorite songs that were played were Whiskey and Wine and Ballad of Miss Kate.  A lot of his music, including those two tunes, has a rich down south country blues vibe while also being retro, which I really like.  Matt is a really talented guitarist and did a lot of impressive finger picking.  What I didn’t realize was he was also a talented keyboardist.  Matt took a good break from the guitar to play a number of songs on the keyboard and rocked it just as well as he did the anything else.  He also branched out to play the harmonica and the trumpet.  This guy is multi-talented.  Not only did Matt dominate in the instrument area but his vocals were to die for.  He was perfect on every song.  He was hitting high notes that many would have trouble with.  On Whiskey and Wine he had a little help from his backup singer.  This woman’s voice mixed with his in a bone chilling, haunting way that made everybody take notice.  Overall this was a great show and I will definitely see Matt Costa the next time he’s in town.  Best part of the show: Matt played a variety of his material.  He played everything from Sunshine to his new single Witchcraft to Sweet Thursday.  He just went from song to song and gave everything he had to each one.
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[Concert Review] Guster, Oct. 15th, The Overture Center

Thank you trueendeavors.com for an amazing performance! This Friday was my third time seeing Guster perform and my opinion about them has only been confirmed and strengthened.  They are brilliant.  The band gives everything they can on stage but without being too serious.  They move around the stage and switch instruments with ease and proficiency.  It’s great to go to a show and have one song be performed with a regular drum kit and the next with bongos and then see the guitarist grab a trumpet for another.  Guster is a band with not one leader that excels but the whole band collectively is a driving force.  I love that Adam Gardner and Ryan Miller share vocals and when they sing together their harmonies are breath taking.   All my favorite songs were accounted for including: The Captain, One Man Wrecking Machine, Jesus on the Radio and Amsterdam. They also played some material from their brand new album including Do You Love Me?  Check out the newly released video for that track: The crowd loved them so much the band gave three encores; yup, three. During their last one, the band came on stage and for the second time this year I got to see a completely unplugged performance.  Although this one was a little dampened by the crowd’s sing-a-long casting a shadow over the bands voices and the many shushes didn’t help either.  None the less it was a great end to the show.   The best thing about a Guster show is the way they can mix music with humor.  During the set the guys gave a shout out to two Madison staples, Ian’s Pizza (the macaroni and cheese slice of course) and Ragstock.  They said they were impressed with Ragstock for its organization and also because they had a whole rack of Bill Cosby sweaters.  They then brought out a Cosby sweater while singing a song about it.  Best part of the show: During their second encore, the band did an unexpected but mind blowing mash up of Billy Joel’s My Life and their own Hang On.  I am a huge fan of My Life and the way they mixed the two together was magic. Cant get enough of Guster? Check out Guster's Website to download a free .mp3 of Bad Bad World! Go to Triple M's Facebook page for more pictures of the show! Go to our Live from Studio M blog page to see Guster perform!
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[Concert Review] Grace Potter and the Nocturnals, Oct. 13th, Majestic

Grace Potter and the Nocturnals Oct. 13th, Majestic Theatre, more info at trueendeavors.com Hometown: Fayston, Vermont Album: Self-titled (released in June) Sounds like: Bonnie Raitt, Jefferson Airplane, Led Zeppelin, Neil Young, Janis Joplin Grace Potter exists for the stage.  She has this energetic rapturous presence that is contagious.  I hate to make the comparison, but she reminds me of Grace Slick, the lead singer behind several bands including Jefferson Airplane.  And to further the comparison, they performed an awesome cover of "White Rabbit" by the band.  Here's a video of the song below: Grace Potter visited Studio M back in 2007 - 85,000+ video views later, Grace is still rockin'! Check it out below: In the words of Vonnegut, "So it goes."  This band is so much fun to watch.  They have these incredible songs and their transitions are effortless and flawless, heated by the fires of musical convergence and rhythm.  These are talented individuals, but Grace Potter is the driver of this van.  She has this low salty voice that is marvelous and she exudes excitement during the show. "Nothing but water" was the greatest raw song of the night.  It reminded me of a Pink Floyd jam session that had most of the crowd dancing around.  Then later on in the show, the whole band gathered around the drum set and started pounding away for over a minute.  It was this visceral performance art where a gathered force played and played, stirring up this eclectic musical soup.   Grace Potter really enjoys the music and so does the band.  They're lively and jactate around the stage with precision and tranquility at moments and shoot out musical chords like fireworks the next. Best Part of the Show: "White Rabbit" and "Paris (Ooh La La)" were the greatest songs.  But Grace Potter also made a snotty remark about how Vermont cheese was better than Wisconsin cheese.  She took it back at the end of the show. Worst Part of the Show: Two women behind me who talked loudly.  It's a concert, not your living room.  It's not sacred ground, but when a good band is playing:  BE QUIET!  In hindsight, I really wish I had said that to them. Overall: One of the top shows of the year. They can play, they can sing and they rocked out.  Definitely check them out when they come back to Madison. -Soren Nieminen
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[Concert Review] Michael Franti & Spearhead

October 9th at the Overture Center.  Special thanks to www.trueendeavors.com Having performed music for over 20 years Michael Franti is no novice on the stage.  His performance on Saturday night was nothing short of exceptional.  Going in I was curious to see if Franti would play some of his older songs or stick to those from his newest release with Spearhead, Sound of Sunshine.  He did cover mostly material from the new album, and I was a little disappointed he didn’t branch into his older stuff a little more but hey, I’m far from complaining.  My personal favorite was the group’s rendition of I’ll Be Waiting. This track is a little more rock and sounded great inside the capital theater.  Other songs to be covered were Sound of Sunshine, Hey, Hey, Hey, and the best received was, of course, Say Hey (I Love You) which was the show closer.  For this last song he invited kids and seniors onto the stage with him and even enlisted the help of a young girl for the chorus.   Franti has rare stage presence.  He has a commanding aura about him that fills up a room and you can’t help but feel yourself acclimate with it. It’s like the sunshine and positivity shoot out at you from his eyes and you just feel yourself start to smile.  Not only is Franti an amazing front man but this group is filled with remarkable musicians.  Their performances with each other were very natural and comfortable.  I was especially impressed with guitarist Jay Bowman who had some great solos and even better enthusiasm.  Best parts of the show: -There was a packed house at the Capital Theater and it was a huge surprise for those of us in the balcony section when Michael and his guitar appeared up there with us.  He walked around all the way up to the top of the theater and then back down to the lower level to do a little more mingling before he went back to the stage.  And he didn’t miss a note the whole time. -A lot of people would kill to meet their favorite musicians but not many people ever get the chance.  Well for those of us who were at Michael’s concert on Saturday, we were in luck.  Michael jumped back into the crowd after the show to take pictures and give out hugs! Studio M was lucky enough to have Michael & Spearhead stop by.  Check out our interview here!
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[Concert Review] Peter Wolf Crier, High Noon Saloon, Oct. 9th

Peter Wolf Crier w/Jeremiah Nelson High Noon Saloon, Oct. 9th, more info at trueendeavors.com Ok, let's start with the good stuff first.  Jeremiah Nelson was pretty good.  He was the opener and he had the small crowd that was at the High Noon Saloon grooving to the beat as some of his songs are tremendously catchy.  It was the first time he was playing together with two of his band mates in front of a live audience so I gave him a lot of credit. But Peter Wolf Crier... They just weren't good.  I'm not going to beat around the bush and say that they gave it their best because they didn't.  Now, lead singer Peter Pisano and drummer Brian Moen are certainly talented individuals who are very skilled at playing, but the problem is they have very few interesting or catchy live songs.  Their best song of the night was "Hard as Nails" and they played it in the opening and everything went downhill from there. PROBLEMS The band's live songs are just not memorable in any way. There's only so much you can do with two people on stage and it seems like something is lost in translation from the album to their live performance.  Pisano has a very haunting way of singing and wailing into the microphone and often the songs build to a heightened acme of frenetic screeching and minimalist drumming and strumming, but it was often times hard to understand anything Pisano was saying.  I know the problems could have been technical, but Peter Wolf Crier was just not really in this performance.  Pisano thanked the audience and at the end of the show he said almost saddened, "We're going to do two more songs and then we'll let you get back to the bar" and it seemed like he was giving up on the audience.  It just felt like people drifted during the show and some of the audience even began talking during the performance, an ostensibly Oscar Wilde method of drowning out a poor performance.  I felt saddened by it.  At the end they played a cover of a Nick Drake song for their encore and I still wasn't feeling it. The silver lining You know what.  It was just one performance and I think this new band just needs more experience playing together in front of a live audience.  This is they're first time headlining and they only have one album out and they just need to keep at it and they will get better.  Like I said before, "Hard as Nails" was fantastic, it's just the other songs...weren't. -Soren Nieminen
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[Concert Review] Joan Baez, Wisconsin Union Theatre, Oct. 8th

Joan Baez Wisconsin Union Theatre, Oct. 14th, more info at trueendeavors.com Did you know Joan Baez dated Steve Jobs?  She's 69-years-old today.  She started performing when she was 18-years-old and had her first album in 1960 when she was 19-years-old.  She's a punchline in an Arrested Development episode (my all-time favorite show) and has over 30 albums including songs in 8 different languages. And she came to Madison on Friday Oct. 8th and played a host of songs and showed the audience that the power/beauty of Baez comes from her crisp presence and roaring vocal strength that has not diminished with age. The concert was extraordinary.  She launched off with the song "The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down" and the audience launched into a rapturous applause afterward, thanking a woman who along with providing great music, has been at the forefront of many philanthropic and social equality fronts and has lead a fascinating life.  Fed up with the pedantic nature of education, she told the audience that she never wanted to go to college, she wanted to explore the world. Joan Baez also was conversational with the audience and gave some back story to her life, told a few hilarious jokes and sang some incredible songs.  The thing with going to a Baez concert is there are a few staple songs that you expect, but she has such a deep repertoire of music at her disposal to impart on audiences that you will definitely hear something new each time with her.  She played her song "Stewball" about a horse that she told the audience she hadn't sung to an audience in over 20 years. The "magical" moment of the concert: There were a couple awesome moments, but I loved when she sung Dylan's "Don't Think Twice, It's All Right" and for the last 30-45 seconds of the song she gave a raspy impression of Dylan.  It gave me goosebumps. The next magical moment was for the encore and she played "Imagine" by John Lennon and the whole audience sang along.  Beautiful. Overall: This was an amazing concert.  Joan Baez still has an incredible voice at 69-years-old and she is fun to listen to.  And I loved her "House of the Rising Sun" version, a song Joan Baez said is a "must know" for any musician who wants to play folk music.  I really enjoyed spending my time listening to her. -Soren Nieminen
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[Concert Review] Ryan Montbleau Band, October 3rd, The High Noon Saloon

The Ryan Montbleau Band stopped by the High Noon Saloon last night to play a casual show.  There was a very laid back vibe at the high noon last night and it was a great way to end a relaxing Sunday.  The bands newest album, Heavy on the Vine, was fully showcased with a majority of the tracks being performed including my favorites, Songbird and Carry. Ryan has an incredible voice.  One that is very distinct and hard to duplicate.  It sounded amazing at the High Noon.  It’s powerful but effortless.  The band also did a great job with their performance.  They have a great sound with a lot of funk.  It’s easy for bands like that to get a bit carried away in a jam session but they kept it reigned in. The only shortcoming of this show was the bands apparent lack of enthusiasm.  They all seemed to be a bit distracted.  For me music is all about a connection.  I like shows were the artists share things and tell us a little about them.  It allows the audience to feel a stronger bond with and become closer to the music.  Ryan Montbleau and the boys had limited words for the crowd and especially in a setting like it was I think that was a missed opportunity.  Highlights from the show:
  1. Ryan can WHISTLE. He can whistle better than I can sing.  When I first heard him I thought he was playing some obscure instrument or something but no it was really him whistling and I must say I was impressed.
  2. The band played to perfection.  They are just as good live as they are in the studio which is remarkable.
  3. By the end of the night a handful of people had really loosened up and watching them dance off-beat to funk music was extremely entertaining.  Especially since I had a balcony view.
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[Concert Review] Stephen Kellogg and the Sixers, October 1st, The Majestic Theat

There was a lot of love at the majestic on Friday night for Stephen Kellogg and the Sixers.  A large part of that was from the guy that proposed to his girlfriend on stage!  The Sixers were cool enough to let the chap get down on one  knee in front of the whole crowd and after she of course said yes (who wouldn’t with a proposal like that?) the band serenaded them while they shared a romantic slow dance!  Major props to that man for putting together a great proposal and congratulations! The band did a hell of a job themselves.  These guys have a good sense of humor and it’s easy to see they don’t take themselves too seriously.  They are really phenomenal musicians as was demonstrated by Goose when he put his guitar fully behind his head and played like it was nothing.  It wasn’t just one or two chords, he was soloing it up behind his head…amazing.  The guys played a lot from their newest album including the title track The Bear, the feel good Shady Esperanto and the Young Hearts, and the heartfelt Satisfied Man. Highlights from the show:
  1. Stephen is a great story teller and he was in his element on Friday.  He had the crowd cheering in agreement about mean high school girls that work at Hollister and how you shouldn’t buy pants from there if you didn’t want a blow to your ego.
  2. The Sixers were a lot of fun and got the audience going when they did a sing along version of Start the Day Early.  Who doesn’t love to sing about moonshine?
  3. Stephen can play the harmonica like no one’s business.  I love when bands have a little bluesy jam session and he was rocking that harmonica.
Intrigued? Then make sure you check out: -The live album the Sixers released of their 1000th show together.  It’s completely uncut and includes 22 tracks recorded in none other than NYC!  The two disc set is available on iTunes. -The song Milwaukee! Any time a Wisco nod comes I will be happy to take it, even if it is just the title of a song. Thanks to majesticmadison.com for hosting the show! Below see Stephen Kellogg and the Sixers Live from Studio M! Still want more?  Go to our Live from Studio M blog page!
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[Concert Blogger] Farm Aid 2010, Oct 2, Milwaukee WI

We want to thank Triple M for the tickets to the Farm Aid concert as a result of the writing contest about small WI farms.  We had great seats and enjoyed the entire event! We would like to share some of our experiences about the concert and the human interest stories we learned or observed... [gallery link="file"] One fellow seated near us was from Springfield, IL.  Like most people, he was moving with the music.  When we got to visiting he said he had “lost his wife and might be looking for a new one.” We both had the same reaction, that he meant that she had recently died, but he clarified his comment to mean that she was roaming around the stadium taking pictures and that he was getting lonely! Another man sitting in our area mentioned that he lived a “stones-throw” from Miller Stadium!  We had a chance to visit quite extensively between performers and learned that he had brought his 80-year old parents who have been married 60 years this year!  They love Willy Nelson and frequently get to his performances throughout the Midwest.  His father was born on a farm in North Dakota and his family moved to Athens, WI where  they farmed as well.  There are pictures attached of his father in his Willy Nelson shirt and of the three of the members of the Duerr family together (mother is facing the other way). We stayed over in Milwaukee Saturday night and visited The Mitchell Park Domes on Sunday morning.  While there we ran into a retired couple from Maryland that had flown into Milwaukee for the concert.  They had attended many Farm Aid concerts before and they really enjoy the music and the cause!  This being their first trip to Wisconsin, they mentioned how much they like the area (reminded them of Vermont) and the people.  “Everyone is so friendly,” they said. The performers were all very enjoyable.  In addition to their individual acts, there were some wonderful duets and larger group performances that were fun. -      It was a treat to see Norah Jones – what a classy singer! -      It was neat the way Willy Nelson came out during each set to perform with others. -      Dave Matthews was a big hit with the audience singing along to many of his tunes. Some really emphasized the cause of the event better than others.  Jason Mraz, a wonderful singer, had a great message about voting in one month – he said that people should vote for candidates who are concerned with the environment and other ecological issues.  Neil Young made an impassioned speech against corporate farms and about how they are making ourselves and our children sick.  He repeatedly said, “Read the label” and “buy from local farmers’ markets.” A few other observations that we made included the following: -      We have attached a picture of Poncho and Lefty – they seemed to be having a great time – so much so, that they were escorted out by 6:00 p.m. -      The marijuana proponent (picture attached) was harassed and that person was escorted out.  He was among the most lively dancers we saw all day! -      There was a golden-robed Native American (picture attached) -      One person had a CSNY jacket with an emblem about free speech that was cool – he was definitely tined-in to Neil Young! -- John and Bambi
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[Concert Review] Blitzen Trapper, High Noon Saloon, Sept. 29th

So, with a name like Blitzen Trapper, this band has to be unique.  They are.  But they are  also heavily influenced by 60's and 70's rock 'n roll.  Blitzen Trapper has a classical rock backdrop to most of their songs that integrates very well with their folksy appeal and blend of Mr. Bob Dylan meets Sonic Youth.  It's hard to describe how they sound, but they are all very talented. The show was terrific.  They went through some of their classic songs and some of the new stuff off their newest album "Destroyer of the Void" that was released in June.  They wisely moved backwards to some of their greatest songs including Furr, Black River Killer, God & Suicide, and Lady on the Water off their 2008 album "Furr." You can download the songs Exclusive Heaven and Earth Demo off their new album  below:
The show was lively and engaging and I love it when performers talk with the audience.  And Blitzen Trapper loves loves LOVES Wisconsin beer and cheese.  Hey, I'll take points for my state when I can get 'em.  They said they'd been touring for a week in Canada and were glad to be home.  I was glad they were too.
Highlights of the Show
  1. Hearing them do a live version of Black River Killer.  Check out the video here.  It's an amazing video and song.
  2. Just chilling with the cool crowd at High Noon Saloon.  It's so damned relaxing.  You know when you go to a concert and some jerk pushes you?  Well that doesn't happen that much at High Noon, which is cool.
  3. Watching all the band (6 people) PERFORM.  They joked around, got the audience clapping and it was just a fun time.
  4. Singer Eric Earley performed a new song "Taking it easy for too long" that was incredible.
Why should Blitzen Trapper be on the radar?
  1. Their biggest fan is Rainn Wilson (who plays Dwight on The Office).  He even offered to tour with them, but they declined and Rainn Wilson killed them.  Or so is the makings of a video they are shooting that will come out shortly.  Click here for more info.
  2. They supply plenty of onstage banter.  And they sound pretty damn good live.
Most surreal moment of the show:
  • During the last two songs of the show, drummer Brian Adrian Koch took out a tape recorder and passed it around the room for people to record messages to the band while they played.  It was kind of a metaphysical experiment on the nature of reality...and kind of awesome.
For more info about this band, go to trueendeavors.com. -Soren Nieminen
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[Concert Review] Drive By Truckers, Spetember 28th, The Majestic Theater

Ask any one that knows me and they will be sure to tell you that country music is near the bottom of my favorite genes; Drive by Truckers, however, are an exception.  Even though there was an abundance of camo and I was one among many to be wearing a red flannel shirt, DBT positively rocked it out last night at the Majestic.  Luckily for me this is not your typical ho-down, backyard barbecue country but more rock with southern country flair and I loved it! The group said little between songs, instead letting their music speak for itself.  The set was filled with their signature brand of guitar frenzied and feet stomping rock-country, mainly those tracks off their latest album The Big To-Do.  Between the kick ass guitar solo filled anthems were some extremely touching soft spoken ballads that showcased the bands softer side.  While Mike Cooley and Paterson Hood are the forerunners of the group, it was good to see Shonna Tucker also get a chance to showcase her haunting voice.  The group also surprised the audience with special guest Kelly Hogan.  Kelly, an Evansville, Wisconsin native and current full time member of Neko Case’s backing band, had performed earlier with good friend Hood at the Wisconsin Veterans Museum.  Hood then invited her to join them at the majestic where she gave a hand in an earlier song and returned for the encore edition of “Angels and Fuselage”. The spectators completely loved the whole show, but were most enthusiastic about Let There Be Rock, of course reserved for the encore.  The crowd was a spirited one, singing loud and proud and dancing to the point of almost becoming a mosh pit.  Drive by Truckers style of 70’s inspired alternative country is just what my fellow Wisconsin residents love.  This music seemed especially meaningful to the men present in the audience where it was easy to see many a bromance in full swing.  So guys the next time you’re having a boy’s night and are looking for some tunes to throw on, reach for some Drive by Truckers! Check out some live footage of Patterson Hood performing That Man I Shot at The Wisconsin Veterans Museum below! Thanks to the Majestic Theater for hosting another great show!
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[Concert Review] Matt and Kim, September 21st, The Majestic Theater

Something about Matt and Kim’s performance at the Majestic on Tuesday night gave me an extra feeling of glee.  It wasn’t just the music (although that was phenomenal) but it was also Matt and Kim themselves.  They looked like they were the two happiest people to walk the earth and nothing would please them more than playing on that stage right then.  Kim had a huge smile on her face the entire show and it was so infectious I found myself smiling to.  You couldn’t look at those two and not see that they love to play and love their fans and want them to have a great time at their show.  And that they did.

The energy and excitement of this crowd was like nothing I’ve ever seen.   Everyone was jumping, dancing, waving hands in the air and there was fist pumping that could rival even the cast of the Jersey Shore.   Every song that Matt and Kim played was greeted with a roar of cheers and more dancing, particullarly their most recognized song Daylight and their fastest song Cinders.  I personally screamed myself hoarse and probably lost 3 pounds from leaping around.  With their catchy tunes blasting your eardrums, you couldn’t help but throw your hands in the air and dance the night away.

Matt and Kim’s performance was like a cardio session in itself.  They were getting as hyped up as anyone.  At various points throughout the show Matt would jump up on his chair and do a sort of head stand contortion on his keyboard while still managing to play.  He even got as brave as to scale their set and climb all the way up to the ceiling of the theater.  Kim similarly would stand up on her seat and electrify the crowd.  She also had the fans hold her up in the air by her ankles, crowd surfing style, while she just danced.  She must have biceps like a goddess because watching her play those drums with such enthusiasm got me tired.

Even though there was a ton of movement and noise going on everywhere this show felt really intimate.  It was like everyone in the room was best friends that happened to be hanging out and having the time of our lives.  There was no show of arrogance or cockiness from Matt or Kim, only a feeling like they wanted to share with us some of their passion for music.  It’s rare to see a band make so much of an effort to be in touch with their fans.  They grabbed as many hands as they could in between songs, cracked jokes, had us sing with them and gave us a feeling of being part of something.  You got the sense that Matt and Kim would be the most fun people to hang out with; like you could easily approach them and it would feel as if you knew them already. 

This is a duo that I'm certainly going to see again and I encourage you to check them out the next time they come to town!

Whether you are a diehard Matt and Kim fan or have a budding curiosity about their music, you can get a glimpse of their upcoming album, Sidewalks, on their webpage!  

-Emily Cartwright

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[Concert Review] Built to Spill, High Noon Saloon, Sept. 21

Built to Spill, Sept. 21 @ High Noon Saloon They came.  They rocked.  They left.  That is how I can sum up my experience with Built to Spill.  Now, they are an interesting band and have been around for a LONG time (since 1992).  Their lead singer, Doug Martsch, is an incredible vocalist and guitarist and it really shows that he has been doing this for a while and perfected everything along the way.  They sound EXACTLY like their recorded studio efforts.  It's incredible. Built to Spill played through some songs off their new album Their Is No Enemy that was released last October.  They also played some classics like "Untrustable/Part 2" from their 1997 album Perfect From Now On.  Highlights of the Concert:
  • I like High Noon Saloon.  It has a nice relaxed atmosphere...and they have bars on both sides of the room, which is nice
  • The band was incredible live.  They are amazing musicians who can PLAY!
  • Lead singer Doug Martsch has such a nice voice.
Critique of the Concert: Ok, it may seem nit-picky, but Martsch has no presence on stage.  I think he spoke like 5 times during the whole show to the crowd.  When he was finished with a song, he would just lean into the mic and offer a polite "Thanks," and then go to the next song.  I know, it's not a huge deal, but I like it when people at least acknowledge a location.  I think he's just a guy who likes to go out there and speak through his music, which is cool.  I guess it's better than having someone tell a long incoherent story that doesn't go anywhere.  (Que Miss South Carolina here). BUT...OVERALL Great concert.  I would highly recommend going to the High Noon Saloon because they have bands there all the time. Click here for their upcoming schedule.  And this band is incredibly good live Or you can check out one of their awesome songs that they played at the show: -Soren Nieminen
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[Concert Review] Brandi Carlile, September 18th, The Barrymore Theater

If I learned one thing from Saturday night, it is that Brandi Carlile is best appreciated live. While I love her albums, videos and the like, none of those things can quite give you the sense of the type of performer she really is. Carlile has an amazing stage presence and you can tell how involved she gets in her performances. She just really loves to play and that feeling emanated out of her on Saturday and washed over the entire audience. Download "Dying Day" Her show had a great variety and pace. Since she had played Madison not too long ago, she made a point to play a different set than she had previous, which her returning fans were grateful for. The story, Turpentine, and Dreams were all accounted for but she also snuck in some surprises. Switching from an all out rock atmosphere to softer ballads and back kept the audience on their toes the whole time. Carlile snuck in a couple of covers including a heart breaking version of Over the Rainbow, a solo of Alphaville’s 80’s hit Forever Young, and she paid homage to the late great Johnny Cash. She transitioned seamlessly from Closer to You to a Beatles cover. Now growing up with a parent who is borderline obsessed with the Beatles (yes dad, I’m talking to you) has made me a huge fan and a harsh critic of those who cover their material. Brandi’s version of I’ve Just Seen a Face however, was brilliant. It would have made my papa proud. While the whole show was remarkable the part that stood out to me the most was something that I have never ever seen a band do before. They played a completely unplugged rendition of “Dying Day”. I thought that was a pretty chancy move considering the size of the Barrymore but as Brandi said, “That’s what these rooms were made for.” Utilizing the natural acoustics of the room, her voice carried to every row and it made for an incredible feeling throughout the audience. Not only was the music amazing but Carlile really made an effort to bond with the audience. Many times she told us what a great group we were and her supporters showed their appreciation with an ear-splitting cheer every time. Instead of the usual one or two word exclamation between songs, Carlile told funny anecdotes and shared some great personal stories which only made the crowd more connected to her. At one point she got the whole audience to act as a “Three part Madison choir”. With her interest in her fans, it’s no wonder they hold her in such high esteem. If you missed Brandi this time around, I strongly urge you to go see her the next time you have a chance. She truly is an amazing performer and listening to her albums or watching a patchy video of her live performances just isn’t going to cut it. -Emily Cartwright
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[Concert Review] Gaslight Anthem, Sept. 19, Majestic Theater

On Sunday, Gaslight Anthem put on a raucous show at the Majestic. Amidst sticky feet, empty and flat bottles of PBR and the sinking admission that I didn't really know all of this band's range of music, I left the show thinking the Gaslight Anthem gave one hell of a fun performance.  And to top it off, their intro song was "Bang a Gong" by T. Rex, and whether pre-planned or not, the whole band danced to the song as they come on stage, and an almost jactation of energy came across the crowd.  It was sweet. If you haven't heard of them before, you should check them out. Their new album American Slang was released in June and it's one that was prominently featured during the show.  They opened up with the title from the album: This band looks like a group that knows how to have a good time.  They are originally from New York, and lead singer Brian Fallon made some funny pejorative jabs at the Indianapolis Colts (who were playing his beloved New York Giants).  The band then played through a variety of their songs off their new album, including my favorites "The Queen of Lower Chelsea" and "We did it when we were Young." Overall: Great concert.  The band has a unique sound and everyone time I looked up, each one of them was smiling.  Great sound overall.  And the encore.  Oh man, the encore was incredible.  They did an amazing cover of Tom Petty's "American Girl" and the prolific "House of the Rising Sun." Worst part of the show: This was when the guy next to me decided it was time to open up a full can of PBR and start jumping up and down hurling the liquid everywhere, most of which seemed to gravitate towards my shirt.  I stepped away from him when he opened up the second can. Best part of the show: When I saw this guy getting literally tackled to the ground and dragged by a host of Majestic staff out of the building.  It filled me with joy.  Then I returned to the music.  Great show! Check more upcoming shows at the Majestic here. And if you missed the post, here's a free download: The Diamond Church Street Choir (click to download) -Soren Nieminen
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[Review] Jack Johnson, July 24 @ Alpine Valley

By: Michael Mahnke Seeing Jack Johnson in concert is a joy, seeing him from reserved seats, as I was fortunate enough to do 2 years ago, is fantastic, but seeing him perform while standing on the stage is incredible.  Thanks to 105.5 Triple M, Live Nation and Jack Johnson I was able to experience this on Saturday July 24th at Alpine Valley as winner of the Jack Johnson- Best Seats in the House contest. A Jack Johnson concert quickly turns into one big sing along and Saturday night was no exception.  The only thing missing was a big fire for everyone to sit around or hearing the waves hit the beach.  The Wisconsin humidty provided some of the heat and everyone singing along made up for the lack of the sound of the ocean. After an opening set by ALO (Animal Libertation Orchestra) and an acoustic set by G-Love, and a quick glimpse of Jack himself backstage, we were led to the stage for an amazing view and an amazing time.  Seeing a great artist perform up close and seeing a concert from their vantage point, especially at a venue such as Alpine Valley, was tremendous. Jack started off his part of the night with his current hit from his latest album To The Sea, "You and Your Heart."  The joy of the crowd, the singing, the dancing were only getting started. The evenings set list, 29 songs in total, included many of his hits and fan favorites.  The first half of the set list included many well loved songs from years and albums ago with songs from his newest effort mixed in.  Older songs included The Horizon Has Been Defeated, Inaudible Melodies, Upside Down (for the kids in the audience as Jack commented), the big hit from his last album If I Had Eyes and Breakdown.  As an introduction to his popular Bubble Toes, Jack gave a small glimpse into his catalogue when he said "The love songs are for my wife, the break-up songs are about my friends." There were also some great live versions of new songs like To The Sea, My Little Girl (for his new daughter) and Red Wine, Mistakes, Mythology. The second half of the set list was heavier with past songs like Flake, Banana Pancakes and Sitting, Waiting, Wishing.  There were sit-ins from Dan Lebowitz of ALO, Paula Fuga and G-Love as well.  A real treat was Jack and his band covering the Steve Miller Band classic Joker. The encore started with Jack alone doing acoustic versions of Do You Remember, Angel and Times Like These.  To finish the evening Jack was rejoined on stage by his band, G-Love, Paula Fuga and the members of ALO for a wonderful version of Better Together. An amazing night, an amazing opportunity and and amazing view.  Jack's feel good music, the talent of the musicians and the energy of the crowd made everyone go home happy.  It would have been a great concert either way but I was truly honored to have been selected to watch a concert in this way. Again, I have to thank 105.5 Triple M, Live Nation for having the contest and Jack Johnson himself for allowing fans on the stage to experience a concert in a truly memorable way.
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[Concert Review] One eskimO, July 7, Majestic Theater

This past Wednesday evening Madison's indie rock faithful arrived at the Majestic Theatre to witness the next chapter in One eskimO's musical journey.  One eskimO arrived in Madison for their third time in the past nine months, this being the first as the headliner of the bill.  The band was grateful for the warm reception Madison seems to always present them especially as a headlining act. Instrumentally the band consisted of Pete Rinaldi on acoustic guitar, Jamie Sefton on bass guitar and horns, the cool vocals of Kristian Leontiou and Adam Falkner playing a distinct percussion set-up.  Falkner sat on a Cuban box drum and struck various other percussion instruments with drum mallets and brushes including a spiral cymbal and an electronic sampling pad. As part of their debut album, One eskimO created an animated film to visually represent their album.  A projector played sections of the animation above the as One eskimO rocked their tunes below. Track wise, One eskimO played all the tracks from their debut self-titled as their Madison fans sang along.  Some track highlights included "Kandi," "Hometime,"Givin' Up" and even an unexpected Warren G cover.  Guitarist Pete Rinaldi told the crowd last time the band was in Madison, rapper/singer/producer Warren G performed the night before One eskimO and this inspired the band to listen to and work on a cover of a Warren G track. One eskimO played an acoustically great set for their quickly growing Madison fan base.  It was clear Madison was glad to have One eskimO back in town, and I am sure they will be welcomed with open arms any time in the future. Here are some photos from the show! -Sam Ryan
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[Review] Dave Matthews Band, July 4 @ Alpine Valley

by Derek Paulowski I was fortunate enough to be selected as the Concertgoer’s blogger for the Dave Matthews Band at Alpine Valley for the Sunday July 4th show!!  My prize package was AMAZING, and included 4 great seats along with the entire studio CD collection from the Dave Matthews Band.  My many thanks to the great people at 105.5 Triple M for their generosity and providing me with the opportunity to create some lifelong memories!! We started our adventure by following Gabby’s advice and finding a parking spot near the back of the lot.  Great tip for anyone attending a concert at Alpine, as it saved us sooo much time at the end of the night getting out!!  We enjoyed the lively crowd, tailgated with friends, and kept an eye on the skies as rain was in the forecast.  I also learned some great tips for picking the right line at the port-o-potty from Lynn who flew in from FL to see Dave.  She informed me that one should always pick the line with more men, as they are faster, and often bail from the line making it even quicker.  I knew I was dealing with a pro when she displayed her own toilet paper for the “just in case” moment!! It was now time to go into the show, and there was definitely some great energy in the air.  Unfortunately, one of our friends took a “wrong turn at Albuquerque” and we didn’t get there in time for the opening act of the Zac Brown Band, but we heard they put on a great show.  We worked our way through the crowd and kept walking down, down, down to our seats.  As I mentioned, we had AMAZING seats just 7 rows behind the pit area!! Dave made his way out and the crowd exploded!!  I have seen the Dave Matthews Band a couple of other times, but never from seats like this.  Before he even got started, Dave stated that even though he is originally from South Africa, he considers this country his home and wished us all a Happy 4th of July, followed by flashing his hands and calling “Boom…Boom…” into the mic ☺. A few songs in he played an incredible version of “Everyday” and brought the energy that only the Dave Matthews Band can.  Other highlights of the night included “Say Goodbye”, “Why I Am”, and a couple of personal favorites “Jimi Thing” and “Tripping Billies”.  Another real highlight was when Dave broke into a little Neal Young performing “The Needle and the Damage Done” solo on stage!! He ended the show with an extended version of “Ant’s Marching” that got everybody on their feet.  Dave was doing his signature dance and trading riffs with Boyd Tinsley with the liveliness and enthusiasm that has made him famous.  They left the stage and the amphitheatre began to fill with lighters, cell phones and probably a few iphone “zippo” apps.  Dave reappeared and played an encore including an extended violin solo from Boyd.  The show ended with a rendition of “All Along the Watchtower” that only DMB can pull off!! Again, thanks to Gabby’s tip to park near the back, we were out of the park shortly and returned part of our crew to the Whitewater campground at the Kettle Moraine Forest.  Trust me, not much traffic if you head that route back to Madison ☺ (thank goodness for GPS!!)  Surprisingly, the security at the campground was tighter than we saw at Alpine Valley as we were greeted by 5 DNR officers checking wristbands for admission back into the campground!!  Finally, an FYI for those heading back to Madison after a show, the Taco John’s off Hwy 59 & the interstate is closed at 1 a.m. ☹ I once again would like to thank 105.5 Triple M for the incredible prize package, and would encourage everyone to become a Triple M member.  As they say “membership has its privileges!!”  We had an unforgettable evening, and Triple M made it possible!!
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[Concert Review] Max Weinberg's Big Band, Majestic Theatre

This past Tuesday the full sound of a fifteen piece band complete with a full horn section resonated from the Majestic Theatre in downtown Madison.  Legendary drummer Max Weiberg, known for his work as a drummer with Bruce Springsteen's E Street Band and also his work as band leader for Conan O'Brien's late night talk shows, arrived in Madison with his recently formed Big Band.  Weinberg informed the audience that the band had been together for only two weeks but their shows were all going great and that "we all agree, this could be something big for all of us." Max Weinberg's Big Band played a great collection of music.  One of the highlights of the show included the playing of a Count Basie arranged medley of Beatles songs including "Help" and "Kansas City."  A second highlight was the funky theme song to the 1957 police drama "The M Squad."  Weinberg joked that despite the fact that "The M Squad" was not on very long, the song was catchy and fun, and that he (Max) has experience with short lived television shows, poking fun at his friend Conan O'Brien's short-lived "Tonight Show" attempt. The Majestic was filled with a mixed audience including both "experienced" big band fans along with members of the younger Conan O'Brien worshiping generation.  Although audience members were likely at the show for different reasons, it was clear the audience was truly enjoying the great beats of Max Weinberg's Big Band.  The talent that joined Max on stage as part of his Big Band was outstanding.  The band sounded full and dynamic from the alto saxophones to the stand-up bass. It had been a while since I had seen a full horn section in action and the rich sound reminded me of my middle school trumpet playing days.  I will definitely have to check out more classic Count Basie and other big band recordings after hearing this great showcase. If everything goes as well as Weinberg anticipates and "big things" happen for his Big Band, Triple M listeners may have an opportunity sooner rather than later to see Max Weinberg's Big Band back in Madison.
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[Bonnaroo] All wrapped up...back to the real world...

My long weekend at Bonnaroo has sadly come to an end as I have returned to the Triple M office.  I had an absolutely amazing experience and enjoyed nearly every moment (the exception being waking up sweating and finding little relief all day).  The music throughout the weekend was diverse and sounded great.  The atmosphere and crowd was friendly and kind.  Bonnaroo was a wonderful experience and I highly recommend the festival to anyone and everyone no matter your musical taste.  I am already looking forward to next year! As far as music goes, my top three performances of the weekend include the hometown Kings of Leon, rapper and all around entertainer Jay-Z, and the smooth yet funky sounds of Daryl Hall and Chromeo.  All performances throughout the weekend were very solid. Our humble campsite Inside the Centeroo area Relief from the heat and humidity in Centeroo Thousands of people and cars equals...mud. The King of all stages, The What Stage!  During Nas and Damian Marley The second largest stage, the Which Stage There are three stages about this size, this is the That Tent Umphrey's McGee performing Friday afternoon at the Which Stage British folk rockers Mumford & Sons Indie rockers Local Natives on Thursday Mayer Hawthorne and the County jammed their groovy sound late night I hope this was not the first and last live show by these guys together, Daryl Hall and Chromeo The famous Bonnaroo bobbleheads were painted in World Cup uniforms this year. The wonderful people of Bonnaroo dancing in the glistening sun.  The man in neon has a sign that reads "Smile! You're at Bonnaroo!" I will admit, I smiled a few times this weekend. A short clip I shot of Damian Marley with Nas performing the Bob Marley's "Could You Be Loved" to close up their set. A short clip I recorded of Mumford & Sons playing their song "Little Lion Man."  Be sure to check out their release Sigh No More. Bonnaroo 2010 was a huge success!  Already anticipating next year! If you are interested in some professional video footage from Bonnaroo, here is a link to the official YouTube Bonnaroo channel. -Sam Ryan
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[Bonnaroo] Day Three, Another Great Day

Waking up bright and early in a steamy tent is getting a bit old.  Especially after only a couple hours of sleep. Another amazing day here down on the farm.  Yesterday was a great day with great performances from artists like Stevie Wonder, the Avett Brothers, Mumford and Sons, Jimmy Cliff, and Jay-Z.  My performance picks of yesterday include Mumford and Sons and Jay-Z.  Mumford and Sons put on a great blue grass rock performance and hit on all the tracks from their most recent release "Sigh No More."    For being such a young band Mumford and Sons sounded perfectly together with each other.  The crowd for the Mumford and Sons show was the most diverse crowd yet including people of young and old. On the other end of the spectrum Jay-Z brought the most energy of the festival thus far.  The entire What stage (largest stage) crowd was jamming out with Jay for his entire set and dancing the night away.  Jay-Z was an artist who I always wanted to see live and I am so happy I was finally able to because HOVA was absolutely fantastic.  I will have Jay-Z lines in my head for the next few weeks. Music that I am most anticipating today includes the Dave Matthews Band and Phoenix.  I am not the biggest Dave Matthews fan out there, but I have never had the chance to see Dave live and am looking forward to the bands performance to close down Bonnaroo.  Phoenix released a free live from Sydney download a few months ago and after listening to the release I am anticipating a great show. I have been having a great time here at Bonnaroo and it is crazy to think that the last day is here.  I am looking forward to the music all day today and anticipating the long drive ahead.  Although leaving the farm after a great weekend will be rough, a nice cold shower and sleeping in my own bed are positive reasons getting back to the real world will be nice. Last day of 'roo, here we come. -Sam Ryan
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[Bonnaroo] Day Two, Soaked Through

Friday, Day Two Whew! Today was roasting!  I was up before 8 am without any sort of alarm (which is very unusual for me).  It is just too hot to sleep.  Our tent/makeshift pressure cooker evidently must be vacated by 7am sharp.  Awesome Tennessee.  Awesome. While strategically planning my next cool-off session, I got to see a tremendous group of bands.  Luckily, concerts/events don’t begin until at least noon, so we had time to putz around camp before heading off for an epic day of concert hopping.  Definitely crossed some must-sees off my list today. We started with Tokyo Police Club (so glad Conan is performing again tomorrow, avoided one conflict!) and stuck around at the Other Tent to see Edward Sharpe & the Magnetic Zeros.  I discovered I had heard of him/them before and really enjoyed their set.  Before the band got on stage, from my perch on the side of the stage, it was really difficult to figure out who was in the band and who were friends of the band.  After a group huddle to focus the band (and friends?), it was time to hit the stage.  Definitely a highlight to see this moment:



She & Him were full of energy, despite the sweltering heat.  I’m glad they pump air and blast fans from the back of the stage or Zooey/M. Ward and the rest of the band would’ve been drowning in their own sweat like the crowd.  I think Gregor will have to step up his game to win Zooey’s heart.  One dedicated fan had a friend hoist him up on their shoulders to attempt to give her a bouquet of flowers.  Gregor claims he’ll have to reevaluate his strategy and instead go for one of the backup singers and hope for an in.  Still scheming…. Les Claypool was definitely another highlight.  I’ve never seen him live before and only recently started listening to any of his stuff.  With frequent mask changes and crazy instrumental tricks, his show was great.  And Kings of Leon were totally meant to play the GIANT What Stage.  As natives of Nashville, they worked their way up through the stages of Bonnaroo and finally played a stage where they honestly felt they had “made it.” And now for some pics!

Tokyo Police Club

OK Go

and of course, Zooey, probably sweating sugar and sunshine -Abby Braatz
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[Bonnaroo] An Epic Day Two

Another amazing day here at Bonnaroo.  The atmosphere here is outstanding.  Walking around this festival site you will cross paths with many many different people sorts of people.  Along with that I have found it interesting when conversing with others the wide range of bands people are here to see.  For some reason I had in my head that most people were here to essentially see the headliners like Kings of Leon and Jay-Z, but everyone I have talked to has mentioned a different band for their most anticipated set.  The music diversity within this festival is awesome and the festival goers truly appreciate that. My top sets for Friday include Kings of Leon, Nas and Damian Marley, and also Tenacious D. KIngs of Leon were the main headliners last night taking the What Stage (Largest stage) for a 9:30 set when no one else throughout the festival was playing.  The crowd was absolutely massive and the local boys represented well.  Their sound was perfect, they had great energy and crowd presence, and they played literally all the songs I wanted to hear them play.  I have been a Kings of Leon fan for a while, but my friend Dean was not that familiar prior to their show.  I think Dean summed up the performance best when after the show he said to me, "Wow, I am going to have to get all their music from you… I think I may have just gained a new favorite band."  The boys who grew up just down the street as they described rocked the festival grounds and the Tennessee crowd loved it. Nas and Damian Marley also performed on the What Stage, but instead earlier in the afternoon.  Nas and Damian Marley released a collaboration album a few weeks ago titled "Distant Relatives" and played most songs from the album.  As much as I enjoyed the material off "Distant Relatives" what sealed the deal for me was the cover of poppa Bob Marley's "Could You Be Loved."  I have always thought that Damian sounds the most like his father of any of the sons.  The blue sky and green trees surrounding the stage made for a perfect afternoon of thinking I was in fact at a Bob Marley concert. But to not be out done, the rock and roll f-bomb laced intensity of Tenacious D delivered grandly between Nas and Damian Marley on the What Stage.  I had never seen Tenacious D before but after this performance I would love to see them again.  The backing band for Jack Black and Cage was very talented and kept the guitar heavy rock smoothly going.  Entertainment value alone this show was top notch.  Jack Black's facial expressions are a work of art that cause me to crack up when I just see him grinding his ax.  Absolutely loved Tenacious and highly recommended to anyone looking to be entertained and rocked out of mind at the same time. As for today, Saturday, I am most looking forward to Jay-Z, Mumford and Sons, The Avett Brothers, The Dead Weather, and Deadmau5.  I am sure today will be another great day of music.  I hope the sun takes some pity on my shoulders.  I didn't think I would be saying this, but rain would be very refreshing today.  It has been blazing hot and sunny, which is amazing yet brutal. I will do my best to keep updating all you Triple M fans and listeners as to what is going down here on the farm. -Sam Ryan
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[Bonnaroo] Arriving at Bogaroo

Thursday, Day 1 Unfortunate lesson learned today.  When traveling to Bonnaroo (even if you have special contest-winning directions and access), it always takes longer than you initially think to get to the fun part of seeing concerts.   By the time we finished setting up the tent, it was well after dark and exhaustion had set in.  So, I sadly missed Miike Snow as I waited in line for our passes.  Very, very :( But after tonight, I could not be happier that we sacrificed saved gas mileage for a four-wheel drive vehicle.  We arrived on the campgrounds after picking up our appropriate wristband to a sloppy, muddy mess.  I watched countless vehicles get stuck and then have to be rescued by a tractor as we cruised right through the muck to our outlined campsite.  Hopefully it won’t rain again anytime soon, the ground definitely doesn’t need it! See full size image As for Centeroo, it's actually smaller than I imagined.  Fewer stages than what I’ve experienced at Summerfest, but tons of space for the big-name acts.  The second largest stage, the Which Stage, is massive.  We'll have to wait and see how big the biggest stage will be (What Stage) for Kings of Leon.  Should be ridiculous based on what I've seen so far! Time to hit the air mattress :)
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[Bonnaroo] Night One

Hello Triple M fans! What a night... Last night was the first official night of Bonnaroo 2010.  Despite my high expectations, the music along with atmosphere was/is amazing.  Some first impressions of the atmosphere include the pure size of this festival along with the wide array of interesting people. The festival grounds are absolutely massive.  At least 5 huge stages with tents covering the area in front of the stages.  The largest stage, named the What stage, did not have any performances on it last night so I am looking forward to seeing the epic crowd at the What stage later tonight. There are vendors of all kinds including a "Broo" tent where you can try some of the finest micro-brews in the Tenneessee region.  I have not been able to explore all the areas of Centeroo because by the time I was in Centeroo and listening to music the sun was setting making exploration slightly more difficult.  Today should be a great day of exploring Centeroo and experiencing some of the best people watching in the world. As far as music goes, my highlights of the night include Local Natives, Mayer Hawthorne and the County, and finally Afrojack.  The Local Natives sounded beautiful as they played through nearly every song of their freshman release Gorilla Manor. Their sound was crisp, the band was energized and thankful for the Bonnaroo crowds support.  I recommend giving Gorilla Manor a listen if you have not yet. Mayer Hawthorne and the County is neo-R&B band from Ann Arbor lead by the smooth singing mastermind Mayer Hawthorne.  I was not expecting a great set from the young band for some reason.  I guess I was expecting a slightly watered down sound, but Hawthorne delivered.  The band has so much energy and was rocking harder than I anticipated.  If you like a poppy soul and R&B sound give Mayer Hawthorne a listen. And finally, my night cap last night was Afrojack.  This dutch DJ absolutely destroyed his set making the masses groove and boogie the night away.  I have known about Afrojack for a while now, but I had the feeling last night that even within the large crowd many were not familiar with Afrojack or the artists he included in his set.  Despite this hesitance the crowd was fully on board rocking out.  I think and hope that this country will soon embrace the party music of choice as electronic.  I sadly lost a pair of sunglasses in the chaos of Afrojack, but that is a small price to pay for the fun I had. As far as today goes, my plan is to explore the Centeroo area while trying to stay cool in the hot humid Tennessee sun.  My most anticipated shows for today include Damian Marley and Nas, Kings of Leon, Daryl Hall and Chromeo, and LCD Soundsystem. I will continue to update Triple M fans and listeners as best I can.  The internet is slightly spotty along with cell reception, but I will do what I can.  I hope all is well in good old Madison, WI and I look forward to a great day of music. -Sam Ryan
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[Bonnaroo] En Roote to Bonnaroo!

Dear Fellow Music Enthusiasts, For those of you unable to attend the Bonnaroo Music Festival this year, I hope these blog posts allow you to live vicariously through a 22 year old college student on her long-awaited pilgrimage.  Hopefully I’ll inspire you to embark on your own musical odyssey.  For me, the countdown is nearly at zero.  We’re all packed up and ready to go and we’ll soon be en Roote to Bonnaroo! I couldn’t be more excited to head down to Tennessee.  I am an obsessive planner, so I’ve be reviewing the lineup and stage schedules for weeks.  However, my friend Gregor will be taking a more focused approach:  get Zooey Deschanel to dump Ben Gibbard so they can run away together.  We’ll see if that plan works out....  Perhaps Regina Spektor is available instead. Thanks to generous friends and family, we’ll arrive and camp at Bonnaroo in style.  I’m not an avid camper, but I think I’m ready for anything.  Now the trick is weighing who to see.  Decisions, decisions! My MUST see: Miike Snow, Stevie Wonder, Phoenix, Regina Spektor, Weezer, She & Him, Jay-Z, and Kings of Leon Artists new to me that are of serious interest: Disco Biscuits, Tokyo Police Club, Japandroids, The Temper Trap, and Les Claypool With pit stops at the Silent Disco and the Brooery, we’ll see if I have time to sleep! I’ll be posting throughout the festival and sending photos too, so be sure to check back!  Thank you to all who voted for me, thanks to you my dream is coming true!  Here we go!  Wish us luck! Abby Braatz
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Backstage Blogger Review: John Mayer is Musical Napalm @ the Bradley Center 3/1

Despite only knowing I had tickets to this show for a couple of weeks, waiting for the show to finally get here seemed like an eternity!  During the days leading up to the concert, I listened to as much John Mayer as I could.  My friend Lisa and I grew more and more anxious for February to end (not just because of Jimmy's prediction of an early spring!), and we also grew more anxious about what we would wear and say to someone so famous! Finally... March first was here!  We both got off of work early to head to Milwaukee.  The ride in the car consisted of a lot of great conversation, mostly circling around John Mayer and singing along to his songs as we drove.  When we got downtown, we started off the evening right with no traffic problems and an awesome parking spot!  We ate at a very secret restaurant, disguised as double agents on a mission, and we left to complete our mission through dark, underground tunnels. Upon arrival at the Bradley Center, we stashed our coats at our fifth-row seats and went to take in the view from the 200- and 300-level seats.  Though nobody was onstage yet, we knew we'd have such an amazing view on the floor!!  We got a few pictures in front of the stage with each other before our 8pm meet-and-greet meeting time "under the stairs of Lobby A on the east side of the building."  There, we met a group of other excited fans, waiting for their chance to meet the star.  A 16-year-old had tickets for her birthday, several radio personnel from Milwaukee area stations and their local winners were there, as well as a family who seemed to me like the biggest fans of all:  their daughter (I assume) had a scrapbook she made of John Mayer.  I guess thinking of myself as a "big fan" is really just relative... It seemed like we waited for hours.  Finally, at about 9pm, they took us backstage. We walked into a white, cement hallway with fluorescent lighting, pipes and ducts visible in the ceiling.  A curtain about 100 feet into the hallway separated us from the reason we were there.  Another 30 minutes later, and the commotion started... none other than musical genius John Mayer had come out from the curtained-abyss, ready to sign merchandise and pose for pictures! The line moved along pretty quickly.  It quickly came our turn:  we were going to MEET John Mayer!!!  :D  Not knowing what we would say or how to act, we walked up to him as he asked our names.  Lisa and I had John sign our ticket stubs and Battle Studies albums:  "TO MEGAN!  <3 John Mayer," with a completely-illegible signature, of course.  YESSS!!  John asked us how we would get back into the concert with sharpie all over our tickets.  Our very quick-wittedness ;) came in handy, as we told him we'd just have to have him come let us in if they didn't let us!  We were beaming upon meeting the celebrity, and we posed for a picture with him, his arms around us, wearing huge smiles for the camera.  It was all over so quickly--probably just a couple of minutes from start to finish, and the only thing we could say on the way out was what every other person in that hallway probably said to their company as they left:  "WE JUST MET JOHN MAYER!!!" We entered the arena and re-found our seats, only to find 3 other girls there.  They were in the wrong section, but at first my heart jumped a beat--how could they have double-booked our seats!?  We got everything straightened out and enjoyed what was left of Michael Franti and Spearhead.  We only caught the last few minutes of their set, but they put on a great show!! After the stage crew changed the set, the second moment we had been waiting for finally happened:  the lights dimmed, the music started, and John's shadow began to emerge on the screen in front of the stage.  The audience roared as he entered the stage with his electric guitar, opening the show with a fantastic rendition of "Heartbreak Warfare."  Our cameras went up right away, trying to get the best shot, the best light, the best view of the guy who we couldn't stop talking about:  "WE JUST MET HIM!!!!" John put on a fantastic show!  He showed a little bit of his humorous side on stage, played songs from several of his albums, and he played a new song for us that he recently wrote in a hotel bathroom.  John's talent at playing the guitar cannot truly be appreciated until you see him live--he is *truly* musical napalm!  Little jam sessions with his band members were my favorite parts of the night--just to see him wail away on his guitar, hearing every note he played, knowing he spent hours working to play those riffs just right, seeing the passion he has for playing in the contortions of his face--it was as if he was in a room by himself, pouring his emotions and soul into his music, and we just happened to be there, listening to and watching him spew his life into his music. I cannot thank Triple MMM enough for giving me this experience!  Lisa and I had a night out that we'll certainly never forget, and I left the Bradley Center that night with a newfound appreciation for John and blues guitar and more pictures than I can count.  I got home to find out that my eyes were closed in the picture we got with John (go figure!), but I'm still going to call it a frame-able night.  :)  I'll definitely have to see him again next time he's in town! --Megan Buege
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