It’s not often that you feel like you’ve truly gotten in on the ground floor of a band’s fandom. To get a chance to see a band with great potential before they make it big (or at least as big as bands get these days). To really and honestly say that you liked a band before everyone else did is rare (And no, you didn’t like he Strokes before they got big, you liked them before they got REALLY big). Here in Madison you have a chance to see a band on the precipice of doing something special and to be the hipster that knew them before it was cool. That band is Madison’s own Circus Fires and they will be performing Saturday 3/14 at the High Noon Saloon.
As you may have seen recently, Circus Fires was included in Tidal HiFi’s list of Madison’s “Elite Eight” musical acts to follow and the praise is well deserved. Following their founding in 2011, the band has developed a strong following through their fun, yet intense, live performances at venues ranging the Loft at Goodman Community Center and the Dragonfly Lounge to the Frequency and High Noon Saloon. In addition to the excellent live experience, the band released their excellent debut album, All Living Things, in 2013 to praise from AbsolutePunk and other indie publications.
All Living Things did a great job of capturing the sound of the band, save for a little extra polish and percussion. Although they are a tried-and-true post-punk quartet (two guitars, bass, drums), the band is still able to pull a great deal of complexity from this simple format. Influenced heavily by turn of the millennium American post-punk (I am loathe to use that dirty word, emo), the band is equally adept at writing concise punk (“A Gentlemen’s Curse”) as they are at writing song-spanning epics (“No One Likes a Morbid Bastard”/”Promise & Demise”/”Ship Captain”), all of which can turn from sensitive ballads to full-on ragers in an instant.
As good as the studio recordings are, the live show is the band’s true home. Guitarist and singer Eric Doucette’s vocals have a more intimate immediacy when they are in a venue’s speakers, as the strain of live singing gives the lyrics the extra grit that is hard to capture in studio. Guitarist Nick Jones’s guitar lines are great on record, but his unique phrasing and style is more pronounced on stage (especially when he plays the sleigh bells on “Neva”). The rhythm section of bassist Tylor Sherman and drummer Paul Siriani also get an added visceral punch from the live setting, especially when you realize Paul is rocking one of the most minimal kits in rock music. All-in-all, their brand of emotional punk lends itself to a wonderful live experience, one that swings between sensitive and raucous to cathartic effect.
Joining Circus Fires at the High Noon Saloon are fellow punks Township and Weathered. Both bands share similar influences to Circus Fires, dealing in cathartic emotional punk. Township hails from Fond du Lac, while Weathered calls Mankato, MN home, so be prepared for the best post-punk the northern Midwest has to offer.
Circus Fires with Township and Weathered are performing at the High Noon Saloon on Saturday 3/14 at 6:00 PM.
– Matt Cortner