On Nov. 7, Bully visited Madison to rock out at the High Noon Saloon. The night opened up with the rock band, Big Ups. Don’t get confused by their name though, their set didn’t consist of bubbly feel good tunes but instead it was full of post-hardcore rock that carried a sadness.
Without any introduction, they exuberantly began their set. The lead singer, Joe Galarraga, performed with a full battery – jumping, skipping, and running to each side of the stage. Big Ups were not only able to give a sonically amazing performance, but they also incorporated drama into the performance, keeping the audience engaged. Galarraga contorted and bent his body in order to act out the lyrics he was singing, performing some sort of amateur interpretive dance. In the middle of songs, Galarraga even leaned in closer and stared blankly into the crowd.
Galarraga switched back and forth from two voices: a low monotone speaking and a screamed singing. This dichotomy allowed for the band to create gradual build ups. After each song, the crowd grew larger and the cheers louder. After a while, the cheers were loud enough for someone to think Big Ups was the main performer.
The first half of their set, the band performed epic rock tunes — the type of songs that would play in the background of medieval battles or a Jason Statham 5-on-1 fight. Songs that influenced the crowd to bob their heads and bang their feet. The other half of their set was comprised of slower paced songs enlaced with heavy themes of life, death and fear that asked the audience to reflect. They ended their set with the whole band matching the lead singer’s energy. Chaotic spurs of movement were seen from all the band members.
After a ten-minute intermission, Bully took the stage. They opened with the songs “Seeing It,” “Feels the Same,” and “Kills to Be Resistant” from their newest album, Losing. The release of Losing was early enough (two weeks prior to their performance) for some of the audience to be hearing a few of these songs for the first time.
Compared to Big Ups, Bully has a grungier, Nirvana-esque sound. Throughout the set, during songs that were less “poppy” and more focused on their punk sound, the crowd reacted with fist pumping, head banging, and dancing. At some points, the floor seemed to tremble.
The lead singer, Alicia Bognanno, matched Bully’s lyrics — which usually express feelings of rage, regret, and disappointment — with emotional vocals. Her raspy scream is not only what makes Bully such a distinguishing band, but it is also what makes her so intriguing to watch. Each time she burst out into her gruff howl you couldn’t help but to feel her heartache.
The band didn’t make much time to stop between songs to talk to the audience but when they did it was to either thank the crowd for coming out on a Monday or to disclose trivial personal anecdotes. They continued to play songs back to back, effortlessly changing the tempo and atmosphere.
After a full performance of the band’s discography, the band left the stage after saying their goodbyes and thank yous. The night ended, and the crowd was able to leave with two stand out rock performances under their belt.