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Youngblood Brass Band, Brahmulus, Chants

  • Majestic 115 King Street Madison, WI, 53703 United States (map)

A longtime Madison music institution returns, with two solid local openers in tow. Info/tix

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Madison's Youngblood Brass Band has been going since the late '90s, channeling a brash mix of hip-hop and New Orleans second-line jazz through a 10-piece lineup consisting entirely of brass and percussion. But the band's cited inspirations have always been all over the place, from Fugazi to Björk to Michael Jackson, and they tend to back up their far-flung influences list with an almost-anything-goes approach that comes through in the actual music. Refreshingly, there isn't some cut-off date where this 20-years-running outfit stopped being receptive to new stuff: YBB's latest release is a six-track covers EP simply titled Covers 1, and its selections include an intricately layered take on Rihanna's "Umbrella," a rollicking interpretation of Janelle Monae's "Electric Lady," and, to jump back a bit, a Latin-tinged reinvention of No Doubt's "Don't Speak."

YBB tends to bring along bold support acts at its hometown shows, and this one is no exception. Brahmulus, a duo consisting of vocalist GregB and producer/multi-instrumentalist Ben Sholl of hip-hop project Fringe Character, crystallizes the latter outfit's neo-soul influences into one cohesive effort. On Brahmulus' sole release so far, the recent single "Catch A Tiger," the pair's instrumentation—shuffling percussion, driving bass and wah-wah guitar—builds a steady formation for GregB's pained and impassioned vocals. Even when he's singing, GregB constructs his lyrics with a rapper's mentality, favoring alliteration, assonance, and repetition on lines like, "I'm on a quest for a rose and a remedy / My feline weeps."

Chants, aka Madison producer Jordan Cohen, combines harsh beats and an ambient artist's grasp of atmosphere and texture. Chants' latest EP, 2018's Carious Motion, opens with "RED (Off My Chest)," a collaboration with Mississippi-based emcee/producer BE3K. It's a smartly conceived pairing: BE3K deftly weaving vocal cadences around Cohen's relentless, syncopated percussion. The spiky and icy qualities of BE3K's vocal delivery also blends well with Cohen's droning synths. But Cohen's standalone productions also have rhythmic tendencies that should sit well next to the two more overtly hip-hop-oriented acts on this bill. On "Airtight," for example, Cohen sews a one-syllable vocal sample into the fabric of the song. In Cohen's hands, these shouts evoke the imagery of a Kool Herc- or Sugar Minott-esque figure urging along a throng of dancing people. —Henry Solo

Earlier Event: October 11
Wisconsin Book Festival 2018 (free)
Later Event: October 12
Zabriskie Point (free)