Madison calendar, December 31 through January 6

Proper Method, Devil To Drag, Brooks Wheelan, and more of the best stuff in Madison this week.

Proper Method, Devil To Drag, Brooks Wheelan, and more of the best stuff in Madison this week. | By Ben Munson, Scott Gordon, Joel Shanahan, Chris Lay

Clockwise from top left: Devil To Drag plays December 31 at The Frequency, 3rd Dimension plays January 2 at The Frequency, Brooks Wheelan plays December 31 and January 2 at Comedy Club on State, and Mike Cammilleri plays December 31 at

Clockwise from top left: Devil To Drag plays December 31 at The Frequency, 3rd Dimension plays January 2 at The Frequency, Brooks Wheelan plays December 31 and January 2 at Comedy Club on State, and Mike Cammilleri plays December 31 at


Mickey’s New Year’s Eve: The Flavor That Kills, France Camp, Fire Retarded, Wood Chickens. Mickey’s Tavern,10:30 p.m. (free)

Madison trio Wood Chickens have had a great year of melding hard-bitten country and brain-fried psych with a furious punk attack, and judging by the sets I’ve seen from them this year, they’re about as thrilling a live band as you’ll find in Madison this New Year’s. They’ve had a decent year for recordings too, with a split cassette that landed on our local best-of list and a new live album, Live At Karl’s Kastle. There’s a lot more solid and sweaty fun on this bill, thanks to snappy Madison soul-rockers The Flavor That Kills, gritty Minneapolis surf-punk outfit France Camp, and slashing local garage-punk standouts Fire Retarded, who will be playing new material planned for the follow-up to the 2014 debut LP Scroggz Manor. —Scott Gordon

Brooks Wheelan. Comedy Club on State, 5:30, 8, and 10:30 p.m. (also Jan. 2 at 8 and 10:30 p.m.)

In the 13 or so months since Wheelan was last here, recording his very well-received first album of dryly frenetic story-jokes This Is Cool, Right?, he’s been crisscrossing the country with his anarchic style of comedy, and he’ll be bringing some of that new road-proven material for a trio of New Year’s Eve shows at the Comedy Club on State, with the earliest starting at 5:30pm ($20) for folks who maybe just wanna get an early buzz on and watch the ball drop from the comfort of their beds all the way up to a 10:30 p.m. show that will culminate with “party favors” and a champagne toast ($40). Check his unhinged recent stop at a Portland morning show where he said he was on bath salts and then insisted on promoting Florida Georgia Line (but only in a general way?) for a sense of the insanity that might befall the New Year’s Eve audiences. Each show receives “party favors” and free tickets to a future Comedy Club On State show, which you should probably use to go see Kyle Kinane in January. Russ Williamson features and Antonio Aguilar hosts. —Chris Lay

Devil To Drag, Cowboy Winter, Bron Sage, Dogs Of War. Frequency, 9 p.m.

Madison band Devil To Drag’s self-titled EP from earlier this year approaches rock with equal parts glam and filth. On highlights like “Ain’t Worth Savin’” and “Lights Out,” the band dredges up a whiff of mainstream ’90s radio-rock, and vocalist Morgan Rae puts a tough but not overly self-serious face on things—a fun sweet spot that’s tougher to hit than you might think. Fellow Madisonians Bron Sage play bizarre, expansive rock that tempts comparisons to Queens Of The Stone Age and Primus, but even those references don’t really help you make sense of it. In any case, the band’s twisty guitar hooks, deadpan vocals, and elements like trumpet and the occasional slappy bass part cohere into something both bewildering and compelling. —SG

Hammond Organ Nite. Tempest Oyster Bar, 9:30 p.m. (free)

During the the ’50s and ’60s, Hammond organs became entertainment workhorses, with organ trios pumping out jazz and pop tunes in bars and clubs. Madison musician Mike Cammilleri and his B-3 mine that tradition with a deep repertoire and just a dash of affectionate kitsch—read our interview with Cammilleri from this past May to get a sense of his love for the instrument. At this New Year’s show, he’ll be holding it down in Tempest’s clamshell bandshell with guitarist Vince Jesse and drummer Scott Beardsley. —SG


(Brooks Wheelan returns for two shows at the Comedy Club on State on Saturday)

Sincere Life, DJ Pain 1, 3rd Dimension, Charles Grant, RED. Frequency, 11 p.m.

Sincere Life displays a lot of verbal dexterity as he rattles off funny couplets like “So she get broke off like leprosy / Yeah I keep my bae wet like Chesapeake” while staying intertwined with a vibrant video game beat on “Intro,” the opening track from the Madison MC’s new album, King Poetic Vol. 1. The follow-up to 2013’s Write of Passage calls on almost as many different producers as there are tracks, and it logically results in a record that slides around from bubbly bangers like “Lane Switch” to pensive jazz loops like “Can’t Kno Why.” But that’s a fitting showcase for an MC like Sincere Life who can breathlessly rapid fire lyrics as well as he can paint in empty spaces. Sincere Life also talked with us about the album on our podcast this week. Joining him to celebrate the release is an honestly stacked lineup including DJ Pain 1 and 3rd Dimension, a Madison hip-hop collective that just dropped a smart, space-y album, Things Have Changed. —Ben Munson

Mead & Metal Fest. High Noon Saloon, 2 p.m.

Bos Meadery’s annual Mead & Metal Fest is both over-the-top and a bit playful, fitting for an event revolving around an artisanally revived ancient beverage. Milwaukee duo Galactic Hatchet use just bass, drums, and eerie vocals to stir up lengthy reaches of austere yet psych-tinged doom-rock. It’s ominous, trudging stuff, but the duo wrings a surprising amount of dynamic variety from its sparse instrumentation. The two Madison bands on the bill are a little more overtly goofy: shape-shifting pop weirdoes Cribshitter and silly yet capable prop-metal goofballs Lords Of The Trident. —SG


Proper Method: Johnathan Thomas, SnackmAn, Radish. Cardinal Bar, 10 p.m.

While we’re obviously huge suckers for DJ nights like the now-defunct House Of Love, which focused (however broadly) on the vast legacy of Midwestern house and techno, we’re also grateful that the Cardinal’s recently established Proper Method residency offers something a bit more adventurous. Run by local DJ fixtures and producers Radish and Wangzoom, Proper Method fills a special niche in the Madisonian dance circuit in that its focus steers away from the tropes of house and techno, instead facing forward into the heady realms of future bass, Chicago footwork, downtempo cuts, and more. In this week’s installment, Johnathan Thomas and SnackmAn (pronounced “Snackman”)—both bass-heavy, footwork-inspired, and mellow producers and remix artists from Chicago—will make the trek to join Radish for a night of smooth and slyly complex grooves. —Joel Shanahan

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