Musical acts from across the state, the nation and the world are set to take Madison by storm this weekend at the first annual Madison Pop Fest. Featuring some of the newest and hottest acts in a variety of genres, Pop Fest provides music lovers of all ages and types with the chance to indulge their musical appetites.
The vision for the festival began nearly a year ago when Pop Fest creator Danny Tenenbaum's cross-country bike trip went awry. A burst appendix in Indiana unexpectedly led Tenenbaum to a Christian rock music festival. Although he "wasn't touched by the Great Almighty," Tenenbaum was inspired by the religious community's ability to bring music lovers together, prompting him to coordinate a secular music festival for the Madison area. After sending a few faxes from "truck stops and seedy motels" seeking grants to fund his vision, Tenenbaum's mission was up and running. He booked popular acts like New York's Rainer Maria (who first formed in Madison) for the festival, which arrived at Club 770 in March 2006 under the name Madison Fest.
Although Madison Fest was a moderate success, Tenenbaum hoped to build a more spectacular and popular music festival for Madison residents. After a name change and additional sponsorship from the WUD Music Committee, Associated Students of Madison and the Multicultural Council, Pop Fest was developed as a two-day music invasion.
Pop Fest officially kicks off 8:30 tonight at Club 770 in Union South, with musical acts arriving from all over the Midwest. Local artists Sleeping in the Aviary will bring their style of Kinks-inspired comedy rock, while Michigan artists Mason Proper offer an experimental pop sound characterized on their MySpace page as "mumbles, bumbles and grumbles." Chicago band Wax on Radio incorporates an experimental, progressive sound into their indie pop, and Maps & Atlases, also hailing from Chicago, offer more ambient, subdued pop.
Then at 9:30 p.m., Yawo will bring his Afro-funk stylings to Memorial Union's Rathskellar, accompanied by musicians from all over the nation, including Wisconsin. A native of Togo, West Africa, Yawo combines complex African rhythmic patterns with modern influences like Miles Davis and Sting. Not only is this Afrobeat ensemble replete with the percussive lines of traditional Agbadja music, but they also entertain visually with a troupe of dancers.
Ambulette, Hockey Night and Bracelets are slated to perform in the Rathskellar tomorrow evening at 6:30. Ambulette features the Björk-like vocals of Maura Davis, former member of Denali, lilting over the driven instrumental works of her accompanying band members to create a powerful work of pop rock. Hockey Night, in contrast to Ambulette, presents lighter, up-tempo songs that resemble the work of the Archies or the laid-back, California vibe of the Red Hot Chili Peppers.
Tomorrow's lineup also has a show for hip-hop lovers at 8:30 p.m. in Club 770. Wisconsin's own The Grey Scare and Urban Correspondent will present an instrumental, indie version of hip hop. Minnesota artist Brother Ali and Horton the Irreverent will also make appearances, offering more classic hip-hop rhythms and background vocals.
Finishing up Pop Fest at 9:30 p.m. in the Memorial Union Great Hall are Drag City eclectic solo artists Joanna Newsom and Bill Callahan, who perform under the name Smog. Although both are on the same record label, each artist delivers different styles of pop rock. Newsom, with her medieval influence and harp, creates grandiose musical works. On the other hand, Callahan and his Johnny Cash-like vocals present a more subdued collection of alt-country and indie rock tunes.
Featuring some of the newest and hottest acts from across the nation, Pop Fest intends to appeal to music lovers of every genre with acts ranging from hip hop to pop. The festival is an all-ages event and is free and open to the public. Whether you're into the Afrobeat style of Yawo or the laid-back pop-rock of Hockey Night, Madison Pop Fest has something for you this weekend.
For the official lineup, visit www.madisonpopfest.com.