Become a Member!

Dean: Forward Music Fest 2008: Day One

Post by Jason Dean on 9/21/2008 8:52am

bobmouldsmall.jpgBy early estimates, Forward Music Festival appears to be a success.

The two-day festival kicked off yesterday evening at multiple venues around Madison. In its first year, the festival is loosely modeled after the South by Southwest music festival in Austin, Tex.

The entertainment started early for a work night, with Bob Mould’s performance at the Majestic at 6 p.m. Still, the crowd started to gather as members of Box Social opened. By the time Mould took the stage, the venue was filled.

Mould, a member of the 80’s alternative band Husker Du played an energetic set filled with plenty of dirty guitar riffs and the occasional overpowering bass. The formula for Mould’s music is simple but effective – start out with a rocking beat, then kick it up a notch midway though the song. Although now in his mid forties, Mould energized the crowd that crossed multiple generations.

At 8 p.m, Giant Sand took the stage at the Orpheum. At the beginning of their show, Giant Sand was by definition a lounge band – in multiple ways. Lead singer Howe Gelb opened the show sprawled out across his Yamaha keyboard. Members of the band sauntered on onstage throughout the show, while others did not show up at all when they were called.

The music early in the set was mellow lounge music with dabs of country. Gelb’s soothing voice – a mix of Willie Nelson and Hollywood producer Bob Evans – was soothing and crisp. Between songs, Gelb would provide random bits of philosophical banter. As the set progressed, the intensity did as well, relying more on thundering guitar riffs. By then end, it was as though a different band was on the stage then the one that started the show.

Neko Case followed Giant Sand with an enjoyable country and rock mixture. By this time, the first floor of the Orpheum was relatively packed, and many of the balcony seats were filled. Case led the audience through a set list that included many favorites and a half dozen songs off her new unreleased album. By the end, the first floor of the Orpheum was a dance floor, as spectators moved to Case’s powerful voice.

Jason Dean

Contributing Writer/Editor

Jason Dean is a lot of things, and some are even good. He's a freelance writer and web designer in Madison. His writing has been published or linked to by various sources, including Isthmus, The Capital Times, 77 Square, Slashdot, and CNN. More of his ramblings can be found on his websiteTwitter feed or his Facebook fan page.