A Madison power-pop institution celebrates a new album, while Austin's Xetas provide scathing punk. Info
Madison band Proud Parents began playing their friendly but punchy power-pop in 2014, and quickly became a refreshing addition to Madison's fertile circle of younger rock-n-roll bands. That's thanks in large part to Claire Nelson-Lifson (also of Cool Building and more recently a solo performer billed as CNL) and Tyler Fassnacht's (also of Fire Heads and The Hussy) genuinely affectionate exchanges of verses and incisive, jangling guitar figures on songs like "Something To Talk About" and "Follow Thru," both highlights of the band's debut album, 2015's Sharon Is Karen. Drummer and vocalist Heather Sawyer (The Hussy, Cool Building, Heather The Jerk) also writes and sings lead on several of the band's songs, in addition to providing the band's rumbling, playful foundation.
Over a couple years, Proud Parents' frequent live sets began to feel more and more dynamic and assured, without sacrificing the band's initial scrappiness. The three singers/songwriters each began to take on a more defined role, while still joining each other in a lot of back-and-forth and harmonies. All that progress comes through on the band's new, self-titled album for the now Madison-based Dirtnap Records, which they'll celebrate at this show. Fassnacht unpacks the anxiety of young adulthood on the almost-frantic "Ducktales," with snappy "whoo-hoo" vocal interjections from Nelson-Lifson and Sawyer. Nelson-Lifson takes the lead on one of the record's most charged-up tracks, "Dead Wrong," and on the more reflective, wistful "2 Fast 2 Serious." Sawyer and Fassnacht trade off some of Proud Parents’ catchiest vocal lines on "Hypnotoad," and two Sharon Is Karen songs, "Something To Talk About" and "Take My Hand," get new treatments here. It's a record that captures the band's early promise, but also how much Proud Parents have expanded their instrumental and emotional range. Maggie Denman (also of Once A Month, Margerat Dryer, and According To What) recently joined the band on bass, replacing founding bassist Alex Seraphin (also of Psychic Drag); Fassnacht and Nelson-Lifson play bass on the new album.
Austin trio Xetas, the one out-of-town band on this show, play combustive punk with the snarled edge of noise-rock and the ferocity of a thrash-metal band. Its 2017 album, The Tower, is a grisly epic that finds bassist/vocalist Kana Harris, guitarist/vocalist David Lee Petro, and drummer/vocalist Jay Dilick shouting their hooks into a gale of filth that shifts between stomping hardcore ("The Burden"), lean post-punk ("The Gaze") and chunky yet dissonant noise-rock riffs ("The Future"). Xetas are releasing another album soon, so here's hoping the band's set at the Crystal includes some new songs. —Scott Gordon