Mad With Power VI, A Power Metal Festival With a Cheesy Middle

Metalheads on the WI Capital Steps at Mad With Power VI, Madison, WI on 8/19/2023. Photo credit: Dave Pearson

Madison WI – It was a gathering of 2000 of my best friends, 1990 of whom I had never met. On August 18 and 19, 2023 metal heads from all over the globe (literally) converged on Madison, WI to catch 2 days of power metal at Mad With Power VI

This was not my first exposure to Mad With Power, as I had made a whirlwind stop at the festival back in 2021. I was very impressed with what I saw and vowed to catch it again in its entirety. 2023 was the year!! 

There was a huge change this year as the festival moved down the street to a much larger venue (with a photo pit!), the Sylvee. With added VIP packages and such, this was destined to be an awesome weekend. 

I arrived before the doors opened on Friday, ready to rock. The line of early entry folks was already long. I talked with several people and right off the bat I could see how special this was going to be. People had come from all over the world to spend a couple days in Madison (great town BTW). In the first couple minutes I met people from just down the road from me in Lynchburg, VA, from Denver, CO, from someplace in NJ, and even a couple from London, England. The diverse fanbase at MWP can be credited to the organizer (and lead singer for Lords of the Trident), Ty Christian. 

Looking at the lineup one would notice some unfamiliar names. This is, in part, because Ty has devoted this festival to giving exposure to smaller and mid level progressive power metal bands throughout the US and Canada (and soon to be beyond perhaps). 

Day 1 Bands (and photo gallery)


The day 1 lineup included one familiar name, Seven Spires (I caught them in Richmond earlier this year). I think the most fun part of this was that I would be experiencing most of the bands for the first time (you never get a second chance at a first impression, right?). 

First on the list was a band called Shield of Wings, out of Chicago. I was blown away with their raw symphonic style. All I can say is, with them as the opening band, the remainder of the bands had to live up to a high bar!! Check out their video for “Crushing Hail“. 

Next on the list was Greyhawk, hailing from Seattle, WA. This power metal band was a great follow on to Wings, turning the pages in the metal story from symphonic to the power. Check out “Circle of Heroes“. 

The pre-dinner band was Seeker Pearl out of Chicago, filling in for A Sound of Thunder who had to pull out of the festival. Their hard pounding sound was perfect to bring us into the dinner break. Take a listen to “Oversoul“. I was not familiar with the originally scheduled band, however, I must say Seeker was an awesome fill-in. 

Did I mention a dinner break? This was a first for me. In the middle of each night, between bands 3 and 4, there was a 1 hour scheduled dinner break. Patrons were allowed to leave the venue for dinner or go out to the patio and mingle with the metal minions. The bread pretzels were to die for and the pizza was pretty good also. It was at this point the family (for fear of offending someone, shall I say soooo) Wisconsinesque atmosphere was very apparent. It was really fun to see the bands and the patrons hang out together and enjoy a little free time. A few hands of Magic The Gathering broke out also. It was really special to watch. 

After dinner, we were treated to an east coast band called Wilderun from Massachusetts. I would call them more of a progressive metal band and they were the perfect after dinner dessert, making sure we all stayed awake for what was to come. Take a listen to “Suncatcher“.

One thing that was quite unique about Mad With Power were the video games and pinball machines all over the venue. The games of my youth lined the walls throughout (and were free for all). The next band, Powerglove from Boston brought the gaming world to music. They hit the stage with quite a video game character feel. Their music was not very vocal centric, however, they brought in Barbara Blackthorne from the band Empress and R. A. Voltaire from Glyph to sing a few bars… and get engaged (never saw that one coming)… and she said YES!!. How metal was that? “Animaniacs“!

The headliner for the night was another band out of Boston called Seven Spires. I had the chance to catch them earlier this year in Richmond as an opening band, they kicked ass as a day 1 headliner. It was also fun to see Ty come out and perform “Succumb” with Adrienne (dang, the duet floored all there). 

The Quest For Curds (and other people things photo gallery)

And then came the unexpected. Yes, Wisconsin is known for its cheese curds. Madison is the capital and also famous for the Saturday morning farmer’s market on the capital square. Imagine about 200 or so metal heads from all over the globe converging on the capital on a quest for curds. If anyone could do it, Ty could make it happen (and he did). 

I am not sure what was more precious, seeing all the fans, standing in line for curds, or the looks on the faces of those walking around the capital gazing on as the metal army stormed the capital for the group photo!! The highlights of the morning were the team taking a knee before Ty (coach) as he prepared them for what was to come (the old college metal pep-talk) or me telling an elderly lady that Ty also sang opera (see the opera battle between Ty and Brittney here) and having her chase him with her cell phone until he belted a few bars!! This was fun Wisconsin style!! 

Day 2 Bands (and photo gallery)

Filled with curds and way too ready to rock, the second night started with another new to me, kick butt band, Of Romulus, out of Sacramento, CA. It is safe to say they were all ears and ready to bring out the Trekkie geeks in all. The duet with James TY berious Kirk (also known as Ty) was great to see. Day 2 was off to a great start!! Listen to “Until Time’s End“. 

Another California band, Graveshadow followed. With a somewhat gothic feel with some symphonic metal thrown in for good measure. They sent the crowd into orbit. To be honest, at this point, I was in absolute heaven, hats off to Ty for putting together such a powerful array of bands. You need to check out “Soldier of 34” for some powerful vocals and instrumentals!! 

Making the journey from Chicago, High Spirits took us into the dinner break. Yet another power metal band with a more traditional rock sound. A low key look (if one can really look metal) was deceiving as they rocked the faces off the Sylvee (and let me tell you, it is hard to eat dinner with a melted face). “Voice in the Wind“. 

After dinner  Seven Kingdoms from Florida was the first to adorn the stage. I look forward to covering them shortly when they stop in Richmond. Appearing with buns ablazin’ (with lettuce, burger, and tomatoes to boot… come on, they were burger slippers, get your mind out of the gutter), they delivered a very fun power set. “A Silent Remedy“.

In what I think is a Mad With Power Tradition, the hosts, Lords of the Trident, were the band leading up to the headliner for the festival. Always entertaining, they blew us away. With Ty at the helm (I cannot believe he appeared with so many other bands, organized the festival, and then came out and did their set). In my opinion the highlight of their set was “Figaro” but one cannot ignore the gratitude they showed to all the bands as they invited all out on stage for “The Metal Sea“. 

Topping off the night was none other than the Canadian band, Unleash the Archers (WOW!!). They were the perfect ending to a perfect weekend. Now I am an old man, a Boomer, and I am not used to consecutive late nights. This exception to the norm was well worth it. For over 90 minutes we were blessed with speed metal as only the Archers can deliver. I want to give a shoutout to US Customs for helping them get into the country, as it sounded like there were some issues at the border!! Thank goodness it all worked out. A few of my faves included, “Awakening“, “Faster than Light” and my all time favorite (the alternate Canadian National Anthem), “Northwest Passage“. 

And then it was done. Two days of metal, comradery, metal family and cheese had come to an end. I have been reviewing shows and such for almost 5 years now and every stage is great in its own way. Not only was Mad With Power one of the best, it also brought me home in many ways. Yes, the bands were great (and honestly I could not write in a way to be fair to any of the 12 as they all kicked butt), but it was really the people that made it what it was. It was one big Wisconsin metal family reunion and unlike many families, this one would be a blast to spend the holidays with. Looking forward to the next one!! 

Care to see who is going to be at Mad With Power VII? Check out this preview!!


Festival Dates: 8/18 – 8/19/2023

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Dave Pearson
Dave Pearson is based out of Richmond, VA by way of Hayward, WI. He has long had a passion for music. Growing up in rural Wisconsin, he rocked out to the likes of Barry Manilow, Neil Diamond, and The Lettermen. Then, one Saturday night, being the rebel he was born to be, he caught an Alice Cooper interview (it may have been on The Midnight Special) and saw him perform, “Welcome to My Nightmare”. Dave was hooked on Rock and Roll (and many other genres as well). Dave has enjoyed (amateur) photography to some degree most of his adult life. Recently Dave started to apply his event photography skills in various music settings with success. He finds that photographing a performance gives him a much greater appreciation for the artist.