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Forward Music Festival 2009 has Andrew Bird in hand, and Low as a high point

Andrew Bird: Expect to get laid.
Andrew Bird: Expect to get laid.
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Madison music fans, get ready to raise the roof and dance your asses off -- or, OK, maybe just sway in place and clap occasionally -- following today's announcement of headliner Andrew Bird for the second annual Forward Music Festival, running September 17-19. Other acts' names are drip drip dripping out, so herewith some thoughts on the FMF09 lineup, and how it compares to last year's:

Andrew Bird

Andrew Bird whistles on all of his songs; you cannot write about him without mentioning this. But no one seems to have made the obvious connection: Why does he whistle so much? Because he is actually a bird. A bird prince, transformed into a man, presumably to win the love of a woman or because he was cursed by a bird witch. Heck, he called his latest album Noble Beast. It's all right there.

As a result, his promises to be a literally enchanting performance. (And word does have it that he's gone from an adequate solo performer to a very strong one.) Expect to get laid after the show, although be careful that Bird doesn't steal your date. He's very good-looking, and probably has mesmerism powers.

Last year: Neko Case is also a fairy-tale animal, or at least wants to be. Gorgeous voice and haunting lyrics or not, though, it's a good bet nobody got laid after her show last year, but instead went home, drank mulled wine, and stared into a fire until the sun finally rose.

Ra Ra Riot

This sextet gets compared to Arcade Fire because they're coed and work stringed instruments into a rock sound, but they're not as immediately accessible. The Ra Ra's live shows garner consistent praise for their energy and tightness, but pick up 2007's The Rhumb Line before the show, as familiarizing yourself with the material will increase your enjoyment.

Last year: Bob Mould gets praised for tight, high-energy concerts, too, although his are probably grumpier. Anyway, this is not a fair comparison, as Mould was playing shows years before the oldest member of Ra Ra Riot was born.


Low were around a long time ago, back when MTV first showed Buzz Clips, and then it seemed like they disappeared, and then they showed up on the radar again at the start of the new millennium. Which is a good thing -- their live show will blow your ever-living mind. This is a get for the fest.

Last year: This may be sacrilege, as they're local boys, but while Killdozer's reunion last year was surely can't-miss history for some fans, others will likely welcome Low's equally all-consuming but more melodic roar.

Margot & the Nuclear So and So's: Likable enough, but man, it feels like there is already a lot of chamber-pop whimsy on this bill.

Wavves: After a drug-related crackup a month ago in Spain, the punky duo canceled the rest of their European tour. So this could be awesome or awful or just not happen.

Cougar: It's too much to expect that the post-rock group's stage show include sexy fortysomething ladies on the prowl, or even better, a real mountain lion, but they can be counted on to do the hometown proud.

Other acts include, but are not limited to: Japanther, Richard Buckner, and Garaj Mahal. Other regional and local acts include Collections of Colonies of Bees and Pezzettino from Milwaukee, The Daredevil Christopher Wright from Eau Claire, and multiple Madison-connected groups, including Solid Gold, Peaking Lights, El Valiente, and local faves Pale Young Gentlemen, opening for Andrew Bird at the Overture Center.

Also, be on the lookout for Matt Fanale to revive the electronic and industrial Reverence brand as a showcase at the festival. Look, also, for showcases by Just Sayin' Is All music blogger Kyle Pfister, and the punchy promoters of Wongz Walk.

A full lineup of acts is due to be announced July 8. Early-bird tickets go on sale July 10 for $35.

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