Best Concert in Madison

MisterWives

On April 28 at The Majestic, MisterWives sold out the entire venue and none of the concertgoers were disappointed. The energy each and every band member elicited on stage was electric as it flowed throughout the entire venue. Yes, Mandy’s vocals sound exactly the same as they do on her studio records. Yes, even the drummer busted a few dance moves. I’ve never witnessed so much hype on stage from a band that only sticks to good ‘ol instruments versus the electronic computer-generated beats of today’s other pop artists. Whether you’ve been a hardcore fan from the beginning, or have only dabbled in a few of their tracks from here and there, I will guarantee that you will have the time of your life at any of their performances.

Tyler, The Creator & Vince Staples

Remember when Vince Staples opened for Tyler, The Creator and white people were mad he didn’t have enough energy? I will never insult a man that walks on stage in a bulletproof vest. After the concert, Vince made a video with a GoFundMe page, requesting $2 million in exchange to never make music again after fans complained he wasn’t engaging with them enough. Oh the irony. Regardless, America’s favorite Flower Boy satisfied nitpicking fans with an impressive set list, including a remix of Jay Z’s “4:44.” Watching Tyler walk over set props while rapping over the legendary instrumental will forever be one of the most exhilarating moments I’ve experienced watching live music.

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Best Album of the Semester

Vacation in Hell by The Flatbush Zombies

You could insert J. Cole or Janelle Monáe — some would even consider Cardi B for this award, and no one would bat an eye, but I’ll mix it up with a hot take to end the semester. The rap genre is arguably the most competitive category to get a record to break through to a national audience. Call in the lords of Flatbush to drop another album to apply pressure on these mumble rappers. // The Flatbush Zombies release of Vacation in Hell to follow up their 2016 sleeper, 3001: A Laced Odyssey, reminds us why the east coast also has a clever rap trio. After an eyebrow raising freestyle for Funkmaster Flex on New York City’s Hot 97 that went viral on YouTube and Facebook, hype for the new record began to climb. No Rick Flair cameos take place on this album, but powerful features and fun instrumentals are laden on this 19-track collection. Joey Bada$$ may have the best verse of the whole album on “Vacation.” “I ain’t in a rush, that’s just my adrenaline flowin’, I drop the top just so they can see the melanin glowin’.” Put that with a Giannis Antetokounmpo reference? Bars.  

Golden Hour by Kacey Musgraves

Sometimes, we all need to relax from the constant, pumping party music we hear constantly and need some low key jams. Kacey Musgraves delivers this on Golden Hour, her fourth major release. Her bittersweet break-up anthem “Space Cowboy” cleverly turns the title into lost banter after the loss of her former love. Other tracks like “Golden Hour” take a more optimistic approach, making for a very chill, though not cliche, soundtrack to chill down with after listening to pump up music for too long.

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Best New Madison Restaurant

Poke Plus

While the spot is a very recent addition to the State Street food scene, but its presence will certainly continue to rise in Madison with its fast casual approach to poke bowls and hibachi. Don’t be deceived by the sizes’ names — you’re going to want to devour a large sized bowl all in one sitting. Poke Plus delivers a customized approached to each poke bowl, allowing for picky eaters to disregard some more traditional aspects of the dish while also creating a million bowl combination possibilities. The large bowl allows for three proteins, among them the not to be missed poke tuna selection. Conveniently located next to State Street Brats, Poke Plus is the variation you need to add flavor to your busy schedule.

Strings Ramen

As an avid noodle lover, I would be doing my self identity a disjustice if I did not try out Strings Ramen. Not only do they offer different types of broths differing from light to creamy, but they also serve some sashimi as well as tasty appetizers such as delicious gyoza. You can add whichever meat you prefer into your bowl and each different set of toppings complement the flavor of its assigned broth perfectly. Once all of the broth is slurped up and all of the noodles are gone, believe me, you have to try their desserts. I’ve never had such flavorful mochi in my life. Although it is a high end authentic ramen restaurant, you will not need to fear the bill as the prices for their food are quite reasonable. It’s a perfect place for a nice date or just to connect with friends you’ve been neglecting paying attention to during finals season.

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Best Art Exhibit of the Semester

Eric Ford, MFA Student

One of the most unique and clever art exhibits on the UW campus this semester was by Eric Ford, an MFA student pursuing his degree after studying at a small college in Ohio. The graduate student takes commercial construction materials to produce abstract creations. After purchasing materials from hardware stores, Ford shreds and fiddles with products like home insulation until it’s no longer recognizable. The pink color of the insulation was exactly what drew Ford’s attention, the vibrant pigmentation didn’t need to be changed. The meaning behind the insulation comes from the “repression of thoughts, feelings and emotion, as the first line of defense.” Ford still has his work on display at the Abel Contemporary Gallery in Paoli through July.

Noël Ash, MFA student

With her meticulously detailed realistic oil paintings Ash, a UW-Madison MFA student, has created many stunning works circulating around family life. These paintings use stunning variations of color that show the perfect balance between light and darkness depending on the mood and location of the specific highlighted scene. She is a realist figurative painter who devotes just as much time to her three kids as she does her art work. Each piece is stunning and seems to imitate life in a way that most people can relate to. Her works would fit comfortably on the walls of the living room at your parent’s house.