Surgeons in Heat fires up der Rathskeller crowd for vinyl release party

Johnathon Mayer of Surgeons in Heat
Johnathon Mayer

The weather may not have cooperated for the first Memorial Union Terrace show of the year, but that didn’t stop Surgeons in Heat from displaying an infectious indie hybrid of blue-eyed soul and R&B funkiness that kept the energetic Rathskeller crowd dancing indoors until midnight.

Lead Singer and songwriter Johnathon Mayer with essentially Madison’s Pioneer, Tyler Ditter, Kenny Monroe and Shawn Pierce, as a  well-oiled accompaniment were wrapping up a string of 12 dates including a trek down the East Coast.

The band put out a debut self-titled EP last year picking up attention from NPR and warranting a coveted Daytrotter Session. The follow-up “ Midnight at Bellevue” just came out in March. Both EPs were combined into a Surgeons in Heat vinyl album release that was being celebrated this evening at der Rathskeller.

Mayer who calls Milwaukee home wears his influences, Prince, Curtis Mayfield and Elvis Costello on his sleeve. While the first EP flirted with R&B over straight ahead indie pop, the direction of the second EP is blue-eyed soul all the way.

We had seen the band open for Heartless Bastards at the High Noon Saloon in February with a more laid back approach. The difference in performance tonight was the pocket groove the four were producing on stage. It was like they were all “in the zone” firing on all cylinders and revving the audience into a Surgeons in Heat state of mind. The energy infused into “The Price” and “Can’t Do No right” ratched the infectously catchy numbers up into overdrive and kept the crowd on their feet.

Where can we see these guys again?“ We’ll be back in Madison for the Slow Food Benefit at the Project Lodge with our friends Sat. Nite Duets,” said Mayer. “It’s for a good cause.” Golden Donna's Joel Shanahan is also on the bill.

Local love fest

This was a great local music showcase with openers Pioneer, Milwaukee’s Fatty Acids and the Midwest Beat providing support for their friends Surgeon in Heat.

Members of the local indie music scene were out in full force Saturday night. We saw The Hussy, Icarus Himself, Julian Lynch and Tom Teslik in the audience, all grooving to the local love on display at the der Rathskeller. We also heard rumors of a massive Project Lodge block party slated for later this summer featuring the best indie musicians that Madison has to offer. And straight from the man himself, Julian Lynch is going to India for three months on a grant for his PhD studies at the UW. 

Rock of the Arts - "Surgeons in Heat with an infectious indie hybrid of blue-eyed soul and R&B funkiness."

© 2023 Rock of the Arts