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The Low Czars, Negative Example, Brat

  • Art In 1444 East Washington Avenue Madison, WI, 53703 United States (map)

Madison's finest cover band heads up a solid all-local bill. Info

Photo by Michelle Damitz.

Photo by Michelle Damitz.

Madison band The Low Czars has elevated rock 'n' roll covers to a discerning craft over the course of more than a decade. There's nothing flashy about the band's live sets, which draw from a repertoire of more than 200 songs across the realms of power-pop, classic rock, psychedelia, and R&B, but this group of serious record nerds has a keen sense for how better-known songs (say, The Kinks' "Victoria") fit next to relatively obscure ones (like Bubble Puppy's "Hot Smoke And Sassafrass"). They're able to fuss over the details of the material while still providing the fun and familiarity that any cover band needs to deliver. Perhaps most importantly, among the band's core lineup (bassist/vocalist James Leaver, drummer Larry Braun, guitarist/vocalist Peter Fatka, guitarist/vocalist Bob Koch, and guitarist/keyboardist/vocalist Aaron Scholz) and frequent guests (vocalist Adam Zar, guitarist/vocalist Kyle Motor, sax player Nate Tredinnick, guitarist/vocalist Justin Aten) are a bunch of people who can actually sing. Koch is also the author of Isthmus' long-running Vinyl Cave column, and will be spinning records between bands at this show under his DJ 45 Freakout moniker.

Negative Example is the current project of Madisonian Bucky Pope, best known as the guitarist and vocalist for one of the most distinctive punk bands of the 1980s, Tar Babies. The band's 2015 album Negative Examples and 2016 EP Double Negative center around Pope's warped, resourceful guitar style (The New York Times once compared his playing to James Blood Ulmer's) and lyrics that dwell on slights and confrontations. On Double Negative's "Platitudes," Pope alternately sings and speaks the kind of lines that might come out during a fit of resentful muttering: "You think you have to please all these people? / If that's all you care to share / You might not have been so lucky to have met me / With full remorse, of course, they're trying to fake it / They don't bend it, they break it." All that uncut anger, combined with the band's brightly dissonant chord voicings and jaggedly funky rhythms, creates an effect that's at once unsettling and funny. This show starts off with a reunion set from Brat, a Madison duo from the early oughts with a fanciful, varied sound and a cracked worldview of its own. —Scott Gordon

Earlier Event: August 10
Nate Gibson And The Hi-Fly Rangers
Later Event: August 17
Eken Park Festival 2019 (free)