The most popular hipster hubbub lately has been if you did or did not score tickets for Wilco at the Overture Center next Tuesday. I walked into such a conversation weeks ago and tried to pacify a forlorn face: "At least you can see the Flaming Lips for free on September 8." I received no words in response, but I did get a "Whaaaaayeaaaaaah!" and an accompanying dance/run down the sidewalk.
The Flaming Lips play at the SoCo Music Experience at the Alliant Energy Center's Willow Island, scheduled from 2 to 10 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 8. The group scored continuous radio airplay a dozen plus years ago with "She Don't Use Jelly," a song that barely scratched the surface of their quirky genius. It was The Soft Bulletin in 1999 andYoshimi Battles the Pink Robots in 2002 that set the standard for their intelligently weird and wacky career, though. Their music has been peppered with everything from keyboard whirls, womanly screams, distorted guitar and Munchkin choruses. Now a year after releasing their latest album, At War With the Mystics, they bring their notorious stage antics -- confetti guns, monsters, alien girls, you name it -- to lil' old Madison. Check out this video of lead singer Wayne Coyne rolling over the audience in a balloon at this summer's Roskilde Festival.
So who will join them?
Cold War Kids feature the warbly, pleading voice of frontman Nathan Willett soaring over dancy riffs, old-fashioned piano and thumpy drumbeats. They will surely make even the sober folk break out into hip, shoe-gazing versions of the Funky Chicken.
Cowboy Mouth are fronted by drummer and singer Fred LeBlanc. Their brand of country-rock-pop is a bit theatrical on studio recordings, but they're beasts on stage. Fans are known to pelt the band with red spoons during "Everybody Loves Jill" thanks to a key lyric. Be sure to watch your dome when you see folks breaking out crimson plastic cutlery.
Australian band Sick Puppies will bring a more mainstream alternative rock sound to the stage, equipped with a hot-chick bassist and emotional lyrics. Meanwhile, Chicago's Goat Motor will please hard-rock types with a blend of driving Red Hot Chili Peppers bass, jammy rock guitar licks and vocals that channel Living Colour.
The SoCo Music Experience in Madison is sponsored by Southern Comfort. You must be 21 or over to enter, so don't forget to bring your ID.
People are just as much abuzz about the location as they are about the bands. Recently, the poorly marketed Download Fest was relocated from Alpine Valley to the Charter One Pavilion at Northerly Island in Chicago -- the likely reason being slow ticket sales, which would suggest why a larger yet mismatched artist, Snoop Dogg, was also added to an otherwise indie rock lineup. If an event like this relocated, why Madison for this kind of free show?
Well, it is no lie that the city has quite a reputation for drinking. Given sponsorship from a certain whiskey-flavored liqueur that originated in New Orleans, this isn't necessarily that far-fetched of a place to pick. Phoenix and San Diego might have much larger populations, but my money is on Madison for most gallons of booze consumed per capita.