Freakfest Madison

Madison Freakfest 10/28/2017 Capital Square/State Street, Madison, WI

For those that have never been to Madison, WI for Freakfest, I can easily say you are missing out on one of the coolest parts of living here. Held every year on a Saturday around Halloween the gang from Frank Productions and True Endevours put together plans for 3 stages worth of music lining the State Street strip. The area is blocked off to traffic allowing those onto the street who have purchased a ticket.
The night started off slowly due to the chilly temperature out. Having rolled onto the street at 7pm the opening acts started. I walked my way up the street to the Gilman stage to check out local artist “Birds Eye”. A mixture of blues, hip hop and rock the band played a solid set for the faithful that made their way out early. From there I moved my way up the street enjoying the sights and sounds. More and more people started to flood the street. Lines for the bars and restaurants became a bit longer as the evening moved along. Which meant more artists to watch. Not really knowing a majority of the artists performing wasn’t really a bad thing. In fact it was quite enjoyable hearing music that was fresh to my ears. The Clyde Stubblefield All-Stars and Kweku Collins really surprised me. Outside of just doing my preshow youtube preview of each artist I did a little reading up on each artist. Sometimes homework is a great way to find out an artists tendencies on stage. With the All-Stars I managed to just catch the last 3 songs of the set. It was fun and funky. The entire crowd that built up around the Capital stage was dancing and singing along to the songs. After a short break and dance party headed by Madison DJ Djay Mando, the Chicagos up and coming hip hop artist Kweku Collins hit the stage. Pure energy would be the words I would use to describe Collins set. Armed with smooth melodies and deep poetry turned into lyrics it was easy to see why Kweku was a fan favorite. Playing notable songs such as “Stupid Rose” “Death of a Salesman” and “Ghost” from his “Nat Love” album his impact was felt through out the crowd.
From there I managed to move back out to the street to snap some images of folks in costume. Its pretty much my favorite part of every Halloween party. How can it not be? At that point in the evening you couldn’t get into an establishment without a long wait. The crowd that amassed at the Capital stage pushed all the way down to the next street. Despite the cold air the mood was quite festive.
The next two artists to hit the stage were the ones I was looking forward to the most all evening. I mean who doesn’t love them some George Clinton? The mid 70s musical legend played nothing but classic hits such as “Atomic Dog”, “Give Up The Funk” and “One Nation Under a Groove”. The new version of The Parliment-Funkadelic was stupendous. Hitting note for note musically and boasting thunderous and powerful backing vocals the band had the crowd jumping and grooving along to the power of the Pfunk. Each song lead right into another. Even at some points extending into the next. A masterful showing.
From there I turned and burned 3 blocks down to catch the last two-thirds of Mutemath. There was no way to be disappointed in their performance. Energetic front man Pat Meany, dazzled the crowd with his wild gyrating moves. Dressed as Mozart, Meany pounded away on a piano while emphatically singing lyric by lyric of their most popular tunes. Performing songs such as “Placed on Hold”, “Break the Fever” and “Light Up” the set list covered multiple album. The costumed crowd soaked up the amazing performance. With purple and yellow lighting backed by the occasional blue the stage matched every note change Mutemath pushed.  All in all it makes me wonder why I waited so long to have seen them live before.
Back up the capital stage I awaited Dram’s performance. Having missed him at the Majestic theater a few months earlier I knew I wasn’t going to miss it again. As the masses of people dance to DJay Mando in preparation of Dram I had the opportunity to go out center stage and take a few crowd shots all the way down State Street. It was quite the visual spectacle. The volume of people in the crowd is virtually unnoticeable when down on the streets. From there I made my way down to the photography pit. The stage was lit up in a velvet color. The stage itself was wide open. The DJ and drummer were at the very back of the stage leaving a single mic stand out front dead center. Dram walked out onto the stage with peace signs given with a huge smile. While wearing a winter coat, Dram warmed up the stage with soulful notes from opening songs “Get It Myself” and “Misunderstood”. From there he lead into the groove laden ” Outta Sight” which set the tone for the evening. Banging out the smooth tunes with a boisterous applause after applause from the crowd, Dram, kept the night playful by consistently interacting with the crowd. Whether talking about their costumes or throwing water bottles the crowd ate it up. Bouncing from left to right along the stage the DJ sounds of a cash machine. Dram then delivers the message about being broke then getting cash leading into his hit song “Cash Machine.” Rounding out the night Dram teased the crowd while they chanted “Broccoli”. The huge radio hit was clearly the final song. Leading into the first beats an explosion of singing, dancing and jumping was most impressive. Dram didn’t disappoint. I’m so glad I was able to shoot the event. To those that have never been I highly suggest checking it out next year. It is a huge monstrous party with quality music acts.

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