Snake On The Lake 2017 Preview

Ducktails – Author: David Heinrich

Headlining WSUM’s Snake on the Lake this year is Ducktails. The quartet from Ridgewood, New Jersey was originally a solo recording project of Matt Mondanile. You might know him as the former lead guitarist of indie rock royalty Real Estate. He has been recording his own stuff under the moniker of Ducktails since 2006, and since then it’s turned from a solo project to a full band. The psych-pop quartet are coming to The Frequency and are ready to go.

Trust me, Ducktails will be bringing the vibes late Saturday night. They have been a constant presence in the lo-fi indie scene for a few years and have garnered critical acclaim throughout their discography, most notably for their first two albums Ducktails and Landscapes. I personally can’t wait to hear “Hamilton Road” and “Killin the Vibe”, two hits from their more recent work. Ducktails is the perfect band to close out this year’s Snake, and we at WSUM couldn’t be more excited. It’s sure to be a groovy time.


Kainalu – Author: Conor McGinnis

Likened by the airiness of Washed Out, Kainalu’s first EP Bloom Lagoon navigates effortlessly through chillwave synth and psychedelic electronica. This year’s Snake On The Lake will be UW-Madison grad Trent Prall’s live debut with a full band performing as Kainalu.

The first time I heard Prall’s vocals, I thought I was listening to a new GUM record—he just sounds so much like Jay Watson. And his various instrumentation channels the meticulous production of Kevin Parker from Tame Impala & Chaz Bear from Toro y Moi. Kainalu blends drifting guitar melodies with driving, funky basslines that are quite Millionyoung-esque. The tropical background effects of waves washing ashore make the 24-minute-long EP a relaxing soundtrack reminiscent of a sunny beach.

While influences do seem very relatable, Kainalu carries very much an own unique, timeless sound: a new genre that Prall has coined as ‘Hawaii-Fi’. The Bee Gees and Stevie Wonder even came up as artists of inspiration when Prall sat down with our Music Director Izzy Fradin during Live at WSUM. I can’t wait to hear what he has put together for us on September 9th, and it will be interesting to see the arrangements of certain tracks like “Love Nebula” and “Sun Soaked”.


Puzzle Quest – Author: Izzy Fradin

Urbana based four-piece Puzzle Quest will take the stage Saturday night ready to tear down the house. Comprised of U of Illinois students Paul Tisch, Wyatt Richter, Grant Allen and Kai Ebata, Puzzle Quest defies genre with songs combining Parquet Courts/Velvet Underground punk, with Elephant Six-esque pop tunes. The boys usually stick to tightly packed, sticky house shows, so their appearance at the Frequency will be especially exciting, and if you’re lucky, you might be the recipient of their infamous mid-performance book giveaways.

Filled with tongue in cheek sensibility and off the cuff humor, Puzzle Quest are sure to get the crowd amped and ready to rock. Their debut album “Remnants of the Orb” is due out September 15th, but if you can’t wait to hear their sound, check out the amazing video (below) directed by guitar player Wyatt Richter for the song “New Flesh”. You can also check out their EP of demos — I recommend starting with “Sequential Friends”.


The Slaps – Author: Audrey Bachman

The Slaps are Rand Kelly, Josh Resing and Ramsey Bell – all rising sophomores at DePaul University. While they have played their fair share of house shows in Chicago (and a fantastic one in Madison this past Spring), Snake on the Lake will be their first ever music festival. I have a feeling that the Frequency’s stage size and environment will be great for their sound in particular. At times, their tunes are groovy, bluesy and slow and at others their sound is completely explosive. No matter what they are going for, every time I’ve seen the Slaps they’ve been one thing consistently: impressive. It’s clear that they have a fondness for an older sound that many other rising artists in their generation don’t model themselves after, and yet everyone loves them. I’m thrilled to get to see them in a few weeks. If you want to listen to the Slaps before Snake on the Lake, here’s a link to their debut album, Susan’s Room, that came out this past January:

I recommend these tracks: “Song For A Friend”, “See Her” and “Mama”


Greenhaus – Author: Rolands Lauzums

Centered around vocalist and primary song-writer Halle Lukisch, Greenhaus started off as a solo project with her self-released EP, soft and warm, back in January. The release showcased her songwriting talents along with an aptitude for creating an appealing soundscape. LIttered throughout are interesting samples of voicemails and other sound effects. Instead of making just any other indie bandcamp release that is a dreamy yet somber reflection on friends and love, soft and warm adeptly articulates the soundtrack that goes along with our thoughts.

Halle soon after recruited three other UW-Madison musicians, Jack Bryant on Bass, Matthew Norman on Drums and Karl Fetsch on Guitar. The result is a much more ferocious and powerful vehicle for her songs. And in turn, Greenhaus became a whole greater than the sum of its individual parts. Halle’s songwriting talents are still one of Madison’s best kept secrets but are delivered by a driving rhythm section which is then slathered with distortion. There’s a steady poppy indie rock structure but because of the distortion and the somber lyrical content, they turn into something way more appealing than just another indie rock Pavement knock-off. They definitely have found a unique edge to the their music. It’s much like a Halloween candy, delicious and sweet on the outside but with a razor blade hidden underneath the surface.

Greenhaus is one of the most promising acts in Madison right now and seeing them perform live would be an opportunity that would be foolish to pass on.