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Wednesday, April 23, 2014 |  Madison, WI: 32.0° F  Partly Cloudy
Music

MUSIC

The Go energize a small crowd at tour kickoff in Madison
The Willowz and MaeRae start show at the Annex


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The so-called garage rock takeover of the '00s came and went pretty quickly, at least as a pop culture touchstone. The White Stripes may have gone on to somewhat shocking mainstream popularity as an island of rock 'n' roll on the pop charts, but many of the bands in the wave as Detroit conquered the world have disappeared from the general public's radar.

A lot of them are still out there, though, fighting the good fight and bringing retro-sounding guitar rock to the faithful. On Thursday night, Detroit's The Go visited The Annex, kicking off their summer tour on a diverse bill with The Willowz and MaeRae.

All three groups put on an energetic show for a disappointingly small audience, with The Go headlining and highlighting songs from their new album, Howl on the Haunted Beat You Ride.

Members have come and gone over the past decade (including Mr. Jack White), but The Go has always included the trio of Bobby Harlow, John Krautner and Marc Fellis. They've provided continuity in the band's sound as it has morphed from something like The Stooges' friendlier cousin into a much more '60s pop-influenced vibe. An excellent addition to the band is current lead guitar player James McConnell, whose crisp guitar lines help reinforce the group's pop sensibilities. He also has the ability to nail the trashier sound of the earlier material and provide some extra grit when needed on the new songs, which even early in their tour appear to be taking on a life of their own on stage.

Anaheim, California's The Willowz look like they stepped right out of a time machine from 1970. Their sound matched the look, in many ways echoing early Grand Funk Railroad -- an active and powerful rhythm section, attack-dog guitar, high-pitched lead vocals -- but with a much more psychedelic bent. A surprising highlight was their only cover song of the evening, a Big Brother & the Holding Company-esque reinvention of James Brown's (and '60s garage band staple) "I'll Go Crazy."

Madison's MaeRae opened up the evening with a fun-to-watch set of rock 'n' roll, led by Lisa Marine animatedly bouncing around the stage. As time has progressed, they've continued to up the rock quotient in their set lists to great effect, with the tenor guitar heroics of Steve Burke always providing a perfect counterpoint to Edward Mish's inspired six-string riffing.

More, please!

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