kind of, sort of, but not really

“What do they sound like?”
“Kind of island-influenced, but not. So…kind of like Vampire Weekend, but they don’t really sound like Vampire Weekend. And kind of dancey. But not really.”

As ridiculously general and non-committal as the above exchange is, it’s a fairly accurate description of the LA quartet Princeton. Radiating ease, brothers Jesse & Matt Kivel, Ben Usen, and David Kitz played the opening set for Camera Obscura at the High Noon Saloon in Madison, WI on April 4, 2010.

Princeton first caught our attention in 2008 with their Bloomsbury EP, and continued to impress with a steady stream of singles from their full-length, Cocoon of Love. Princeton’s music translates well live; the members swap instruments, the Kivels trade vocal duties, and the songs bring a sense of sun-drenched leisure to even the darkest corners of the club. The band also took the opportunity to debut a handful of new songs (plans are to record in June), all of which got me excited for the new record (especially the sublime “Andre”).

Princeton will continue their US tour through April. For photos from the show, click here.

concert mania!

Ever wonder what shows we’ve been to but didn’t report on? Ever wonder if we saw something that’d surprise you? Check out our work-in-progress, a comprehensive list of every band we’ve ever seen live. The list is near 500 different artists right now, but we know there are still tons of bands we’ve forgotten to include.  Give it a look, and offer some suggestions about the bands we need to add.

you should see brighton, ma frequently

One of our favorite bands to see live, Brighton, MA, is making a stop in Madison, WI at The Frequency on January 21, 2010. Leave a comment by 11:59:59 PM CST on Sunday, January 17 for a chance to win a pair of tickets! We’ll draw a winner on Monday, January 18. Make sure to enter a valid email address, that’s how we’ll contact the winner.

Jim / Matt

Visit BMA’s site to get a free live EP collected from their February 2009 residency at Schubas.

UPDATE: And our winner, as chosen by is…
Bessie! Congratulations! You and a friend will be put on the guest list for Thursday’s show.

Thanks to all who entered!

m|h’s short and sweet guide to fmf09

Are you in Madison, WI this weekend? Then get yourself to Forward Music Fest. Buy tickets here, print out the schedule, and then check out a few of these performances (our top recommendations are linked to music, starred are the acts we’ve seen live before):


Blake Thomas*
Richard Buckner

Dan Wilson
Daniel and the Lion
El Valiente*
Archie Powell & The Exports
Daredevil Christopher Wright*
Margot & The Nuclear So and So’s*

Crane Your Swan Neck*
Pale Young Gentlemen*
Maps & Atlases*
Andrew Bird*

If you’re only buying a single show ticket, and we had to pick just one thing to see, we’d say Cougar. They don’t play the midwest very often, and their shows have always delivered. They’re one of our favorite live acts, hands down.

To see our coverage of the inaugural FMF, check out our guide and review.

i been here so long my heart is a parking lot

Sometimes live music has the ability to be bigger than itself. Bigger than the band, bigger than the audience, bigger than what’s happening right before one’s eyes. At the Majestic in Madison, WI, Wolf Parade managed to do just that on November 10, 2008.

Throughout the evening, Wolf Parade whipped out jam after jam, keeping the energy consistently high. The Majestic was packed with rabid fans, each opening note eliciting an impassioned cheer from the crowd. The five gents of Wolf Parade were clearly enjoying themselves, often thanking the crowd and graciously accepting the adulation. Adulation that was well-deserved – “Language City”, “I’ll Believe in Anything”, “Fine Young Cannibals”, and “Kissing the Beehive” were all absolutely ridiculous in the best possible way.

Be you a huge fan or curious newcomer, Wolf Parade has the chops and panache to elevate the evening into a transcendent experience. Live, the songs are utterly danceable and more multi-dimensional than their canned counterparts (which are, by the way, quite lovely). It is not often a performance can make your heart feel at once completely filled and impossibly light, but as was proved yesterday, is something that is entirely possible.

one more week of being haunted

Owen (aka Mike Kinsella) returned to Madison on May 3, 2008 to play to a cozy crowd at Club 770. Kinsella was in good spirits, happily conversing with the crowd and cracking jokes.

“Sometimes I write a song and it sounds like Sheryl Crow, and I think, ‘This is awful.’ Then I write a song and it sounds like ‘Chocolate Rain’…”

After finishing up a set of his own material, Kinsella decided to throw down a few Fugazi songs, a preview of his upcoming benefit show for CAASE on June 19 at Beat Kitchen in Chicago.

At this show we decided to use the video option on our super-cheap camera and captured Owen performing “The Ghost of What Should Have Been” for your viewing and listening pleasure. Of course, we’re idiots and filmed it portrait style, not realizing we couldn’t rotate it in editing. Oops. Just crane your neck to the left and you won’t even notice.