Saturday, September 20, 2008
Haunted by the American Dream
The Forward Music Festival is a new venture for Madison, featuring two days' worth of music spread out around downtown. I bought early, securing a two-day pass for $25. Not too shabby. My chief interest was in Friday night's featured show at the Orpheum: Neko Case and Giant Sand.
Last time I saw Neko, I was somewhat underwhelmed. I'm happy to report that this wasn't the case on Friday. Neko and her band delivered a fun, engaging show that made the ninety-plus minutes fly. The set included many new songs from Middle Cyclone, due in March. Sometimes an abundance of new or unfamiliar songs can slow down the pace of a show, but I really enjoyed everything I heard. I'm very excited about the album, especially the title track. (Side note: for as many shows as I've seen at the Orpheum, Friday was the first time I saw a dog on stage. Props to Kelly Hogan's Augie for being adorable and well-behaved, as usual.)
Giant Sand was solid in the opening slot. I sometimes had a little trouble hearing Howe Gelb's vocals, but the music came through loud and clear. I also enjoyed Howe's deadpan humor and commentary throughout the set. And he gets points for the most unique method of guitar pick storage I've seen: he licks his picks and sticks them to the front of his guitar until they're needed.
Both Neko and Howe (especially Howe) entreated the audience to register to vote, and the HeadCount presence at the show was quite prominent. I had almost forgotten from four years ago how all of the autumn concerts I see begin to take on political undertones. It's exciting: I can't wait for November.