July explodes with musical options this year
July lights up its musical skies with fireworks all month long as festivals, free shows and rare appearances fill the month with incredible choices. Halfway through July, the 17th fires up three festivals within a few hundred miles of each other. Eaux Claires’ inaugural festival features an impressive line-up ranging from world-class acts SPOON, SUFJAN STEVENS and THE NATIONAL to regional heroes BON IVER, PHOX and FIELD REPORT. Highland WI’s second annual Bluelight Festival focuses on local experimental musicians such as JULIAN LYNCH, TAR PET and NEENS as well as touring bands SCAMMERS and CROWN LARK. Finally, Chicago’s long-established hipster haunt Pitchfork Festival scores appearances from established acts like WILCO and SLEATER-KINNEY plus rising stars such as punk-busker COURTNEY BARNETT and blistering Canadians VIET CONG.
If festivals aren’t your scene, fear not, the assembling festivals mean Madison catches fabulous acts stopping in as they pass through. Club dates for radioactive-crackerjacks MELT-BANANA, precious folk-messenger JESSICA PRATT, feisty feminists EX HEX, indie-folk pioneers INDIGO GIRLS and sultry singer-songsmith NATALIE PRASS orbit various festival schedules. Bargain-hunters should delight in several free shows from mega-spectacular pop-robbers THE NEW PORNOGRAPHERS and ferocious alt-rockers BULLY taking over downtown to all-star powerhouse NO BS! BRASS BAND, indie-disco brainchild SHAMIR and bedroom-soul patrollers MR TWIN SISTER lighting up campus.
If only the weeks before or after allowed any down-time. As Milwaukee’s Summerfest winds down, the first half of July has Stoughton’s Catfish River Music Festival heating up with Madison’s Le Fete du Marquette hosting slide-bluesman SONNY LANDRETH along with Cajun party-king CJ CHENIER and swamp-stompers THE REVIVALISTS. The last half presents folk-maelstrom LADY LAMB on campus, lofty pop-sophists SAN FERMIN and CLOUD CULT Live on King Street, Nashville blues-rockers SIMO playing Atwood Fest, Cambodian-fronted psycho-surfers DENGUE FEVER at Olbrich Park and country-rock doctors THE MASCOT THEORY at High Noon’s Summer Patio.
The already overstuffed month brings two anniversary tours to Madison; post-rock apostles THE APPLESEED CAST celebrates the fifteenth anniversary and vinyl reissue of their classic, “Mare Vitalis,” while alt-pop iconoclasts CLAP YOUR HANDS AND SAY YEAH revisit their pivotal self-titled debut from ten years ago. The month also sees rare sightings of California power-pop dreamers THE ORANGE PEELS, psychotropic guitar-rock prophets LAZYEYES and rainbow-pop Aussie LENKA while returning conquerors MATTHEW SWEET, DICK DALE and THE MELVINS also manage to find suitable venues. Sorry all we overlooked, but rock on, it will be over before you know it.(1965) Page Views July’s Live Music Overload Online: