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On your mark, get set, go to these fall 2012 concerts around Madison
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Shemekia Copeland plays High Noon Saloon on Oct. 17.
Shemekia Copeland plays High Noon Saloon on Oct. 17. Credit:Steve Terrell

The Olympics are over, but the epic displays of power and talent have just begun. Instead of crowding around a TV for hours on end, race to local venues for these fall concerts. New shows will be announced throughout the fall.

SPRINTS: SEPT. 1 to SEPT. 30

Eternal Summers
Frequency, Sept. 2

This Virginia trio fill the gap between sharp, angular post-punk and lush, hazy dream-pop with a strange and delightful blend of peppy energy, nerdy lyrics and creepy, noir-inspired vocals. Their current tour showcases Correct Behavior, a new album that's earned a thumbs-up from Pitchfork.

Teengirl Fantasy
UW Union South Sett, Sept. 8

Born during freshman orientation at Oberlin College, this two-man project mixes shoegaze with deep house and other beat-rich genres to create a soundscape perfect for dancing or daydreaming.

Tony Lucca
UW Memorial Union Terrace, Sept. 8

On season two of The Voice, this former Mouseketeer surprised many viewers with his country-western version of Jay-Z's "99 Problems." See if he performs it at this show.

Laura Caviani
Brink Lounge, Sept. 9

This talented Twin Cities pianist will examine the classical-music canon through a jazz lens during a program called "From Bach to Bop." This improv-oriented evening will also include a Q&A session, a musicians' workshop and a jam session featuring members of the audience.

Movits!
UW Memorial Union Rathskeller, Sept. 14

The Madison World Music Festival has many top-notch acts on deck this year, but this Swedish trio may be one of the most fun. Atop layers of classy gypsy swing and suave '30s big band, they sprinkle hip-hop vocals that will furrow a few brows and get lots of booties shaking.

The Jesus & Mary Chain
Majestic Theatre, Sept. 19

Without this band of innovative Glaswegians, My Bloody Valentine would just be a slasher film and Dinosaur Jr. would refer to something even more terrifying: the spawn of Barney. Thank the band for infusing pop culture with some much-needed white noise.

Matthew Sweet
High Noon Saloon, Sept. 19

At this show, Sweet will perform all 15 tracks from his magnum opus, Girlfriend, which the A.V. Club dubbed the best power-pop album of the '90s a few years back. On this record, Sweet gives his divorce the bird with jangly guitars inspired by the Byrds - and some sarcastic lyrics that helped his sublimely sugary sounds find a place in a landscape of depressed, distorted grunge-rock.

Conor Oberst
Capitol Theater, Sept. 23

At this solo show, the Bright Eyes frontman will fill the Overture Center's Capitol Theater with his tender, trembling voice, which helped shape indie rock's softer side in the late '90s and early '00s.

Andrew Bird
Overture Hall, Sept. 26

Bird teems with irony: After finding much indie rock boring in his early 20s, he became one of the genre's biggest stars in his 30s by founding a solo act that highlighted his talents as a violinist and whistler. This concert will showcase Break It Yourself, a mellow new album that makes Wilco's Jeff Tweedy "look like a Nordic death-metal pyro," according to Rolling Stone.

Dillon Francis
Majestic Theatre, Sept. 26

Mentored by Diplo and adopted by Skrillex's OWSLA label, this EDM DJ-producer slathers thick bass on Moombahton tracks stuffed with Dutch house and reggaeton influences.

Ricky Skaggs & Kentucky Thunder
Stoughton Opera House, Sept. 27

Skaggs has won more than a dozen Grammys for his virtuosic mandolin playing, which adds pizazz to bluegrass and gospel tunes. He's also an expert at converting folks he meets - such as collaborator Emmylou Harris - into fans of traditional country music.

The Head & the Heart
Capitol Theater, Sept. 28

This Seattle folk-pop band aren't especially innovative, but their songs are incredibly easy to like. Filled with luscious layers of harmony, they've lured fans of classic groups such as the Beatles and Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young.

The Hold Steady
100 block of King Street, Sept. 28

Minnesota native Craig Finn has been marinating heartland rock in indie flavors in Brooklyn, N.Y., since 2004, when he formed the Hold Steady. At this gig, the band will headline 2012's final Live on King Street block party and celebrate the Majestic Theatre's fifth anniversary as a music venue. Fans of former Hold Steady member Franz Nicolay can devour his story-filled songs at the UW's Memorial Union Rathskeller Nov. 16.

Mission of Burma
High Noon Saloon, Sept. 28

These post-punk pioneers have inspired an impressive list of rock 'n' roll greats that includes Nirvana, Sonic Youth, Guided by Voices, the Pixies, Fugazi and R.E.M. After breaking up in the early '80s, when singer-guitarist Roger Miller developed tinnitus, they returned stronger than ever with 2004's ONoffON. At this show, fans can revel in the shifting time signatures and the gleeful, tuneful chaos of their solid new album, Unsound.

Dirty Projectors
Majestic Theatre, Sept. 29

Most bands don't dare to get as creative as this prolific experimental rock band, which has released a Don Henley-themed concept album, a reinterpretation of Black Flag's hardcore classic Damaged and a collaborative recording with a group called the Orchestral Society for the Preservation of the Orchestra. Their new album, Swing Lo Magellan, is flush with intellectual exercises that challenge listeners to expand their definition of "music" and beautiful melodies that grab hold of the emotions.

Laetitia Sadier
UW Memorial Union Terrace, Sept. 29

Though Stereolab are on hiatus, their vocalist is on the move. She's traded the band's brainy, politically charged electronic post-rock for faux flutes, vibraphones and acoustic guitars on Silencio!, a new solo album that's both funky and groovy. See how it sounds with a choir of live ducks and crickets.

Ty Segall, Thee Oh Sees
High Noon Saloon, Sept. 29

Segall can rock the crap out of raw, lo-fi garage-revival songs and tunes that seem plucked from old Sonics and Stooges albums. Allmusic has likened Thee Oh Sees to "the Mamas & Papas run through a seriously bent garage blender." In other words, they're sloppy, poppy, psychedelic and a little more warped than most.

Hospitality
High Noon Saloon, Sept. 30

This young New York City trio has made Stereogum and NPR swoon with complex arrangements and small bursts of cynicism. Though singer Amber Papini sometimes adopts a weird, pseudo-British accent mid-croon, all is forgiven when she launches into "Friends of Friends," one of the supremely catchy tunes on the group's self-titled debut album.

MIDDLE-DISTANCE RACES: OCT. 1 TO OCT. 31

Henry Rollins
Barrymore Theatre, Oct. 9

Black Flag's frontman is touring all 50 state capitals with a new crop of spoken-word pieces that are ripe for the election season.

Judy Collins
Stoughton Opera House, Oct. 11

Collins' sweet, clear voice and passionate campaigns for social change made her one of the most beloved folk singers of the 1960s. After that, she became one of the country's foremost performers of art songs and show tunes, including Stephen Sondheim's Grammy-winning "Send in the Clowns." Pay homage to a living legend at this show.

Shemekia Copeland
High Noon Saloon, Oct. 17

Copeland possesses one of the most powerful voices on the blues circuit, which has helped her win a Rising Star award from Down Beat magazine and a new nickname - Queen of the Blues - at the 2011 Chicago Blues Festival.

Dinosaur Jr.
Majestic Theatre, Oct. 19

This alt-rock group influenced many '90s bands - including Built to Spill, who'll play the High Noon Saloon Sept. 18 - with droning vocals, loads of guitar feedback and marked shifts between loud and soft. At this show, they'll brandish I Bet on Sky, a new album that drops in mid-September.

MARATHONS: NOV. 1 TO NOV. 30

Bob Dylan, Mark Knopfler
Alliant Energy Center Coliseum, Nov. 5

After touring a series of small clubs in Europe, Dylan is giving arena-size venues another go in America. Recent set lists have included '60s game-changers such as "Like a Rolling Stone," "All Along the Watchtower," "Highway 61 Revisited" and "Blowin' in the Wind." Knopfler will grab one of his 70 guitars to show off his talents in the fingerpicking department.

Dan Deacon
Majestic Theatre, Nov. 5

Deacon's music ranges from zany, geeky electronic experiments to cerebral classical creations, and his live show resembles a fusion of a rave, a children's television show and a Jazzercise class. Whether you participate in the spectacle or point and laugh from afar, you'll have a crazy story to tell in the morning.

Macklemore & Ryan Lewis
Barrymore Theatre, Nov. 23

Seattle rapper Macklemore has grabbed the national spotlight with thought-provoking songs about race, sexual orientation, drug addiction and consumerism. Be among the first to hear a live performance of his debut album, The Heist.

Rockin' runners-up

Though these 30 concerts didn't make my list of 25 must-sees, they'll be filled with more anthems than an Olympic medal ceremony.

Mount Eerie
UW Music Hall, Sept. 6

The Suburbs
Majestic Theatre, Sept. 8

Nobunny
Frequency, Sept. 12

Saul Williams, Dessa
UW Memorial Union Terrace, Sept. 13

Alameda, Raymond Byron & the White Freighter
Indie Coffee, Sept. 15

Lyrics Born
Willy Street Fair, Sept. 16

The Heavy
Majestic Theatre, Sept. 18

Melvins Lite
High Noon Saloon, Sept. 20

Mutemath
Majestic Theatre, Sept. 20

Claudia Schmidt
First United Methodist Church, Sept. 22

Lil' B
Majestic Theatre, Sept. 24

Kathleen Edwards
Majestic Theatre, Sept. 27

Brother Ali
Barrymore Theatre, Oct. 4

Gary Louris of the Jayhawks
Stoughton Opera House, Oct. 7

Paper Diamond
Majestic Theatre, Oct. 11

Rasputina, Faun Fables
Frequency, Oct. 12

Neil Halstead of Slowdive
High Noon Saloon, Oct. 13

Béla Fleck & the Marcus Roberts Trio
Capitol Theater, Oct. 16

Army Navy
UW Memorial Union Terrace, Oct. 19

Frank Fairfield
Stoughton Opera House, Oct. 19

Heartless Bastards
High Noon Saloon, Oct. 19

Coheed and Cambria
Majestic Theatre, Oct. 20

Ivan & Alyosha
UW Memorial Union Terrace, Oct. 20

Glen and Grant Lee Phillips
Redamte Coffee House, Oct. 26

Sleigh Bells
Majestic Theatre, Nov. 1

The Wood Brothers
Majestic Theatre, Nov. 2

John McCutcheon
Barrymore Theatre, Nov. 3

Zac Brown Band
Alliant Energy Center Coliseum, Nov. 9

Matisyahu
Capitol Theater, Nov. 13

Aimee Mann
Stoughton Opera House, Nov. 16

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