the truth is not found in the hue

A familial atmosphere hung about Madison, Wisconsin’s High Noon Saloon as Megafaun and Icarus Himself teamed up for a night of homegrown tunes on June 17, 2010.

Making up Megafaun are Eau Claire natives and former bandmates of Bon Iver’s Justin Vernon Brad Cook, Phil Cook, and Joe Westerlund. Now residing in North Carolina, the trio melds its Midwestern roots with their new southern swing to create songs that cross the valleys between atmospheric folk and blissed-out jams.

Stomping country clap-alongs were where Megafaun found the most success, getting the crowd to dance and in one case employing them as backup singers. However, for every time they drew the crowd in, they let them drift in equal measure. The band’s set held too many dragged-out meanderings that lead nowhere, making for impatient, weight-shifting, bathroom-visiting interludes.

Madison-based band Icarus Himself provided direct support for Megafaun, and though I only caught their last couple of songs, I was impressed. Now a three-piece, the band’s sound has come a long way from the one-man acoustic set we saw as opener for Owen in 2008.

Click here for the official Megafaun site.
Click to learn about Icarus Himself.
See more photos from the show here.

painless ghosts, of which she knows

Madison, Wisconsin’s High Noon Saloon played home for Portland, Oregon’s Horse Feathers on April 21, 2010. Playing a mix of familiar tunes and new material from Thistled Spring, the band drew in the crowd with their brand of Americana.

Leading the band was Ron Howard lookalike Justin Ringle (vocals, acoustic guitar) with his beautifully wounded voice. He was joined by cellist Catherine Odell, violin & saw player Nathan Crockett, and multi-instrumentalist Sam Cooper (banjo, mandolin, drums, keys, violin).

Playing close and quiet, the show was more like stumbling on something beautiful and private than a performance. The band opened with the soft joy of “Belly of June“, and later settled into the depths of the heart-wrenching “Cascades”. Set-closer “Rude to Rile”¬†brought the highs and lows together by combining a sense of sadness with the welling of hope.

Check out the official Horse Feathers site.
For pictures from the show, click here.

the men you’ll grow to love soon

On their debut LP, Londoners Let’s Wrestle sing that they “are the most reliable guys in the world.” At their Madison, WI show at The Annex on April 16, 2010, they proved it.

Their live show is much like their album: a rough, punk aesthetic tempered with pop awareness and musical know-how. The songs have you nodding your head and dancing like those kids in the Charlie Brown Christmas movie, happy and with abandon.

Songs of note were the utterly infections and clap-filled single “We Are the Men You’ll Grow to Love Soon” and album opener “My Arms Don’t Bend That Way, Damn It!”. Let’s Wrestle closed their set with “In the Court of the Wrestling Let’s”, which seemed just as out of place and drawn out as it does on the album.

Despite the downer at the end, the band’s charm, approachability, and musicality will ultimately win you over.

Find out more about Let’s Wrestle here.
Check out our photos from the show here.