FOLK YEAH: Forget Bon Iver’s two recent Grammy wins. The award isn’t always an indicator of bland pop mediocrity; sometimes it is awarded to a talent as fresh and genuine as singer/songwriter Justin Vernon, Bon Iver’s frontman and reason for being. Vernon manages to slide behind your cynicism; he inspires that “first love” feeling you had as a kid, when you didn’t know that your favorite song sounded like five others that came before it. In a write-up of the band’s September show in Los Angeles, The Hollywood Reporter’s Jeff Miller noted that a young woman’s cry of “I love you, Justin!” was followed by a young man’s cry of “I love you more!” Ah, first love. Not even a Grammy win can turn off its heartlight. Bon Iver plays The Joint on April 12 ($36).
LISTEN, BUSTER: You need to see Madness at the House of Blues on April 14 ($40). The British pop-ska band is significantly more than the sum of its 1980s hits (“Our House,” “One Step Beyond” and a bunch of others). Madness is one of those rare bands I’ve seen perform in two entirely different decades—with Fishbone in ’86, and with the Reverend Horton Heat in ’98—and has actually improved with time. Their live sound is near-perfection, their stage manner joyous and engaging … and when they bust out “Night Boat to Cairo,” you will dance like the earth is bouncing underneath. The band practically moves your limbs for you.
NOW ON SALE: You’ve got your Steely Dan in my Doobie Brothers! On June 24, The Dukes of September Rhythm Revue, featuring Donald Fagen, Michael McDonald and Boz Scaggs, lands at The Joint ($40) and sets the wayback machine for the 1970s and beyond. Any one of these guys is an all-night jukebox; together, they’re kind of an unstoppable Hydra of blue-eyed soul.