2018 will forever be cemented in the memories of Madison music lovers. The isthmus welcomed plenty of blockbuster names, including a show from Metallica. Madison also opened two new concert venues – The Sylvee and Communication. Unfortunately, this year also brought the closing of a beloved venue, The Frequency, in the spring.
The tumultuous and exciting changes of Madison’s music scene made plenty of impacts on concerts this fall. The following shows stick out as some of the past most memorable.
Father John Misty
Father John Misty returned to Madison for the first time in three years this fall. The polarizing indie star released two albums in that period, and in his show at The Orpheum, Joshua Tillman had plenty of material to choose from. Opening with “Hollywood Forever Cemetery Sings,” Tillman proved himself as a showman as he passionately sang about graveyard intercourse.
His latest release, God’s Favorite Customer, details his collapsing marriage. These songs showed the audience a more vulnerable side of Tillman. The show did a wonderful job of playing songs from his entire catalog. “Holy Shit” followed by “Pure Comedy” and “I Love You, Honeybear” highlighted Tillman’s range as a performer more than any other portion of his set. Hearing him on a record alone is not enough to experience Father John Misty, as Tillman’s appeal is one that must be witnessed live.
The Californian pop-punk rockers brought their two-minute long anthems to the High Noon Saloon at the height of midterm season. A crowd of angst-filled college students moshed and shouted along throughout the 22-track set that even included a cover of “Video Killed the Radio Star.” This show proved to be more stress-relieving than any cup of tea or long walk.
Just like Father John Misty, Joyce Manor succeeded in having a set that kept all fans happy, new and old alike. Their set covered their early EP’s and their latest LP’s that shifted to a more of a pop sound. It is also worth noting that Vundabar, a group that has toured with Joyce Manor, played one of the best opening sets of this semester filled with a goofy stage presence and high-energy from all members.
Bon Iver, Tammy Baldwin call for more than just casting ballotsA highly contested election met one of Wisconsin’s greatest musical minds at The Sylvee Saturday evening. Sen. Tammy Baldwin, D-Wis., Read…
Bon Iver x Baldwin
To cover this past semester without a single mention of politics would feel wrong. With the immense pressure surrounding the midterm elections, politics felt unavoidable this semester, even when talking about music. No better show represents this than Bon Iver’s collaboration with Sen. Tammy Baldwin, D-Wisconsin, for their fundraising event at The Sylvee.
In Bon Iver’s first show in Madison since 2011, Vernon and company played a concise ten-song set. Unlike most shows where Justin Vernon sits behind his OP-1 with his face obscured by his hat and headphones, Vernon seemed to feel comfortable and passionate at The Sylvee. Between songs, Vernon interacted with the audience in his friendly Northwestern Wisconsin manner, even asking for the Milwaukee Brewers Game 7 NLCS score at one point.
The show ended with a cover of Bob Dylan’s “With God on Our Side” which poignantly gave closure to the special night and gave audience members a dark reminder of the consequences of staying home on Election Day.
Boygenius (Julien Baker, Phoebe Bridgers and Lucy Dacus)
All of the members of Boygenius made a stop in Madison in the 12 months before their return as an indie rock supergroup. Surpassing the three-hour mark, this show felt like a once-in-a-lifetime moment for the audience as well as the performers on stage.
Each woman played a shortened version of their solo sets, as they “opened” for Boygenius. The unique identities of each artist were displayed in these solo sets, prior to performing their EP as Boygenius.
In their performance as Boygenius, Julien Baker, Phoebe Bridgers and Lucy Dacus breathed new life. The show brought three immensely talented songwriters on the stage together, and each artist shined brightly. The performance as Boygenius showed a fun-loving side to the trio that their somber solo performances did not.
Wearing nearly-matching suits and adding performance flair, like Bridgers and Dacus bowing down to Baker during a guitar solo, the set shed new light on the young artists. Boygenius’ show was unforgettable, and one that will likely never happen again, sadly.