When you think of Augusta, Georgia in April, one thing naturally comes to mind: The Major Rager concert series! Okay…SOME of you may make mention of some golf tournament happening the same weekend, but whatever. With The Flaming Lips, Moon Taxi and The Eric Krasno Band playing, and for a great cause to boot, the place to be in Augusta that blustery Thursday wasn’t on a putting green…it was front and center at a rocking downtown day-long jam.The charity clearinghouse Friends With Benefits pairs great bands with great causes. The Major Rage uses the opportunity presented by The Masters coming to town to create unique fund raising opportunities. Since their founding, they have raised a quarter of a million dollars for a variety of worthy non-profits.Sunny skies were filled with gusting winds and unseasonably chilly temperatures for the event but music lovers were undeterred. There were plenty of opportunities for craft beer and BBQ but the main course on the menu was served onstage. After a fun warm-up set from Stop Light Observations, one of the hardest working men in the music scene did what he does best…bending his guitar strings until they sang the blues.Eric Krasno BandEric Krasno brought his new band to the Major Rager and wowed the fans with his blues licks and wailing solos! While still getting the funk down with his bands Lettuce and Soulive, Krasno seems to relish the chance to do his own thing. Krasno has gathered a band he seems to trust, including multiple members of the Dap Kings, to form the Erik Krasno Band.Keyboard player and vocalist Deshawn Alexander brought a burst of energy and stage presence with his contributions on the mic and ivories. Vocalist Mary Corso had the crowd in awe of her emotional, bluesy delivery. Krasno got in on the act as well, singing while playing the blues. While his schedule may not allow much time for sleep, with this many amazing bands to play with, Krasno doesn’t have time to rest anyway.Watch Krasno and company pump up the jams below:“Jezebel”“Move Over”People Of The Sun (Moon Taxi)Nashville’s own indie-rockers Moon Taxi have a secret. Though they write artful, melodic rock songs for themselves they secretly kinda wish they were the most bombastic rap rock protest band of all times! So, whenever they can’t fight the urge to go buck wild, they metamorphose into “People Of The Sun” and play tribute to Rage Against The Machine, pioneers of the anger-rock movement of the nineties.Organizers of The Major Rager were more than happy to let them work out their identity issues on stage. Throughout the crowd, fists were raised and middle fingers were unfurled. Classic RATM tunes like “Bulls On Parade” and “Guerilla Radio” were dropped left and right as People Of The Sun quickly moved from hit to hit. Check out a couple of their most brutal jams below:“Bulls On Parade”“Bombtrack”The Flaming LipsSince their inception, the Flaming Lips have purposefully followed a path all their own. Mercurial frontman Wayne Coyne serves as nexus for the swirling mayhem the band has created in the studio and on stages for decades. Whether The Flaming Lips are building a monument to the psychedelic insanity in their hearts, or pleading for love to conquer all, they are always remembering to first and foremost…ENTERTAIN!Flips shows are a senses shattering cacophony of sights and sounds designed to overwhelm onlookers and leave them receptive to new ideas. Wild man Coyne serves as the eye of the storm, urging listeners to embrace love and insanity. Music fans at the Major Rager were lost in a wave of jubilation. Confetti filled the air, Coyne ventured out into the crowd on a giant LED illuminated unicorn, and the general ridiculousness factor needle was buried on eleven.That sense of irreverence has served to connect the band and their fans on a very instinctive level. Humor has a way of disarming a situation. In the context of a Flaming Lips show, it allows the overall message the band shares, peace, love and unbridled artistic expression, to resonate on a more personal frequency.See The Flaming Lips play a pair of the most beloved tunes below:“Race For The Prize”“Yoshimi Battles The Pink Robot (Part One)”
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Coupling corners Allen Langford and Jake Ikegwuonu with the senior leadership of safeties Roderick Rogers and Joe Stellmacher, Wisconsin’s secondary last year was among the strongest in the nation. With the departure of Rogers and Stellmacher this year, the uncertainty at the safety position has become a concern for some.But not for members of the UW football team. “I look at it as a huge opportunity to showcase my talent and help this defense be better and the team be better,” sophomore defensive back Shane Carter said. “I never really looked at it as a challenge; things are challenging. At the same time, you attack challenges and make the best of your opportunities. I’m just as ready as I can (be) to help the defense.”Carter and fellow sophomore defensive back Aubrey Pleasant have stepped into the starting positions and are making strides. The two of them are finally getting a chance to play — and not just because Stellmacher and Rogers are gone. Pleasant has twice battled back from a tear in his labrum that hindered him much of the past year. Oddly enough, Carter missed a portion of last year with a torn labrum as well. This string of connections has made the two close. “We went through a lot,” Pleasant said. “I mean it was different having surgery during spring ball because everybody is still a little loose and can catch up, but having it during the season is a little different. We spent a lot of time together. We talked a lot together. We figured that next year, if we handle our business, we could start. We have a really close connection.”Carter added, “We grew close over that time not only as friends, but obviously doing the things we had to do with the medical staff and all those things.”Beyond Carter and Pleasant, Wisconsin has quite a bit of depth at the defensive back position. And with a healthy Pleasant and Carter, the secondary could even be deeper than last season’s. “We have a lot of great players back there that are ready to play and [are] hungry,” Carter said. “I know Kim (Royston) and Quincy (Landingham) that just came in, he could still be in high school and they’re just going out hard and trying to make plays. So I think all of us are going out there are eager to play and fill the position that Stell and Rod left.”While Carter and Pleasant are trying to shake off the rust from nearly six months of not playing, greyshirt freshman Landingham is learning the system for the first time.Needless to say, it has been a process. “It has been a big adjustment coming in trying to learn all the plays, all the coverages so fast,” Landingham said. “But I think if I keep on working at it everyday I’ll get better at it.”Playing doesn’t even stop for the greyshirt when he’s on the sidelines. “I just try to take mental reps, think about if I was out there, what would I be doing in the motion, what would I do when they come with this kind of route, and then (I) apply what I was thinking about,” Landingham said.Restored health and a strong relationship between Carter and Pleasant, along with some new faces, makes Wisconsin’s secondary a bit safer than many would anticipate.Practice notesThe defense prevented the offense from completing many passes down the field in the 11-on-11 drill. The play of the secondary was particularly notable. Second-teamers Kim Royston and Ben Strickland picked off Allan Evridge’s and Jon Erickson’s passes and ran them back before the offense could touch them up. … Joining Strickland and Royston in the second team’s defensive backfield were Josh Nettles and Jay Valai. … Former running back Jamil Walker looked comfortable working with coach Randall McCray and the defensive line. … Brandon Kelly remains out for disciplinary reasons and defensive lineman Justin Ostrowski didn’t dress (reason undisclosed).