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The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald


Local promoters create show to bring Madison bands from basement to limelight

Five Madison bands bring emo, post-hardcore, indie rock, skramz to High Noon Saloon stage for ‘Don’t be afraid, I will be your Valentine’
Photo courtesy Tony Muelle
Or does it explode performance.

Four local bands will hit the High Noon Saloon stage for a post-Valentine’s Day concert Feb. 17 at 7 p.m.

“A great thing about this show is it is more age-inclusive and exclusively local bands,” co-promoter and University of Wisconsin senior Arthur Machado said.

“Don’t be afraid, I will be your Valentine” is organized by co-promoters Machado and Waisman Center Community TIES behavior consultant Shawn Bass.


The goal of the show is to promote local bands and give them a space to reach a wider audience.

“Most local bands play in basements and house parties, which have barriers due to age restrictions or accessibility issues,” Machado said. “Whereas popular venues, such as High Noon Salon and Orpheum, are almost exclusively populated by popular bands or bands from other cities.”

The show includes different music genres apart from just emo, which is the most common among Madison bands.

Machado, a senior in UW’s School of Journalism and Mass Communication, sits on the editorial board of the music magazine EMMIE. Machado wanted to be a part of the band before graduating, so he teamed up with other students to create Mio Min Mio, Swedish for “Mio my Mio,” the title of a popular Swedish children’s book.

The band members are all people of color — an intentional choice, according to Machado —to bring some change into the music scene here in Madison.

Apart from working with the university as a behavior consultant, Bass is a guitarist for the band Or Does it Explode, taking its title from the famous poem “Harlem” by Langston Hughes.

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The band initially grew out of the previous Our Friends are Savages, which after a few changes in members and the arrival of a new guitarist became Or Does it Explode just before the eve of COVID-19.

Machado and Bass decided to put together a show after meeting each other at WSUM, Madison’s student-run radio station, where Machado served as director. It would be six months before they could secure a weekend slot at the High Noon.

Their decision involved adding other local bands in Madison to the show including Riot-Nine, a trans-activist band in Madison, Snag, popular for their eco-activism and Boxing Day, famous for their love songs and unique for their trumpet player who is said to be expected on Feb. 17 according to the band’s founder and UW–Madison student, Shayfer Huitt.

The show at High Noon Salon gives a chance for local bands such as Machado’s and Bass’ to perform in a highly accessible, public and safe place, giving them a wider audience.

According to Or Does it Explode vocalist Katya Pierce, who moved to Madison a few years ago from New York, Madison’s music scene has an advantage that many other cities don’t — a chance for local bands to thrive and Machado and Bass are making that happen.

“In a lot of cities, it can be pretty tough for local bands to break into these kinds of venues, but when I moved to [Madison] I went to live shows and was like ‘Oh my God! that’s a local band, that’s a local band,’” Pierce said. “It’s a really special culture. It has been an adventure and I have loved it ever since.”

Pierce first started as a classical musician, but wanting to try out the music scene in Madison, she joined Bass through a Craigslist advertisement and is now their lead singer.

Bass, Machado and Pierce together, along with other members of the show, want to create a post Valentine’s Day theme, featuring a wide variety of music on love, personal experiences and wild tunes, promising a night of fun, romance and strange emotions.

“A brave first date,” Pierce said, for anyone to try.

The audience can expect the show to begin with post-hardcore music from Mio Min Mio, led by Machado, and Or Does it Explode, led by Bass. They will be followed by Riot-Nine and Snag with more bursting music, ending with slower tunes from Boxing Day to end the night with love.

Audiences, apart from fun, romance and wild post-hardcore beats can also expect personal anecdotes and experiences of the musicians.

“The political always ends up being personal,” Pierce said. “It is impossible not to engage with [such] themes since they affect your life directly.”

Each band has its own story, with people from different lives and different experiences who each have something important to share, something personal and central to their life experiences.

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“Some individuals take a stance while other people don’t and ultimately the individuals who take a stance put themselves at the risk of victimization or abuse but still stay driven to take the stance regardless of the risk,” Bass said. “We want to honor and recognize that.”

That is the central theme of the song “In doing So” which the audience can expect to hear. Another such song is “Killswitch” also played by Or Does it Explode, which focuses on keeping cultures alive with myths and rituals.

The show brings together people with different stories — from different journeys and moments of life — some who are still in college, others who passed its steps many years ago, people who come from different states and countries, each with their own unique story to tell. They bring together what is most important to them through music.

The show begins at 7 p.m. with the doors opening at 6 p.m. Tickets can be purchased for $10 pre-day or $15 the night of.

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