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Wednesday, July 23, 2014 |  Madison, WI: 78.0° F  Mostly Cloudy


Digibot assaults the senses and right-wing shenanigans at The Frequency

Mike Hess
Mike Hess
Credit:Jessica Steinhoff
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Listening to Digibot makes one wonder what most liberals might be like if they chugged a beer, picked up a guitar and let it all loose. In fact, if there's one thing the punkish rock foursome proved at their show at The Frequency Thursday night, it's that those who lean to the left need to grow a pair and make a racket when their opponents attempt to lie, cheat and steal their way to another electoral victory.

Digibot has used this "loud and proud" strategy for the past decade, taking on subjects such as Guantanamo Bay, pharmaceutical companies and the PATRIOT Act with their speakers turned up to 11. However, the band' s sense of humor is probably the most surprising and endearing aspect of their live shows. (It's hard not to love a dude with a ZZ Top-style beard doing stage kicks worthy of the Rockettes and getting intimate with the drum set during a song about Viagra.)

So far, Digibot's members vocalist Mike Hess, guitarist Tim Radl, bassist Andy Russell and drummer Bart Tulpo haven't aimed their barbs at John McCain or Sarah Palin. However, these two could easily provide the band with another decade of material.

Meanwhile, Thursday night's performance revolved around a 9/11 theme with fan favorites such as "Gitmo," the band's statement about the human rights violations at Guantanamo Bay, and "Ballad of George Bush," an anti-love song for the president and his minions. Despite the solemn tone and hand-wringing of the day's news reports, the band barreled into the topic with chutzpah and even a few saucy grins amid sneering and head banging. They topped it off with a bit of audience participation, spinning their coveted "chord wheel" a Wheel of Fortune-esque contraption made out of a drum cymbal to select the chords for one of their songs as their fans gasped and whistled.

Though the crowd had thinned out over the course of three earlier performances including an incredibly noisy opener by Connecticut-based psych-rock outfit Jerkagram that made several shocked listeners flee for the comfort of a warm bed and an indie-rock lullabye Digibot played with as much energy and intensity as ever. A particularly rocking "woo hoo" chorus reminiscent of Blur's "Song #2" got the band jumping around the stage and the audience nodding, singing along and offering their own political rants.

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