We went and saw Volcano Choir and it was awesome. Yep, the local rock star did a concert at his alma mater, in a campus auditorium (University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire). I believe it was the first of two nights there.
The opening band, Adelyn Rose, appear'd on stage and my first thought was, "holy fuck these hipster looking pieces of shit are going to suck". And then the music started. And my initial judgement was right on. But then something funny happened: they ceased to suck as I was drawn in by the lead singer's vocals.
And the shitty sound didn't help their cause, because the style struck me as an almost shoegazey indie rock by way of the new wave of pseudo bluegrass bullshit being peddled by assholes. It can be so hard to nail a band's style when you're first seeing them live. Anyway, overall, I enjoyed them, when I know I shouldn't have.
The hard scheduled 30 minute intermission followed Adelyn Rose, during which the lights came on and the elderly couple seated in front of us busted out a newspaper to kill time. Srsly, they came prepared. Prepared to rock, then prepared to read, then prepared to rock again. Also noteworthy was the higher amount of older folks in attendance.
Sure as shit, half an hour later, out comes Volcano Choir. Aside from some awkward dancing from frontman Justin Vernon, the set was awesome. Kind of odd/cool was the podium setup the he used. It appeared he was flipping through pages on the podium, as he sang, not sure what was going on there. Also at a couple points he was wearing headphones.
The sound was great and the band seemed PUMPED to be there. The guitarist in particular, when introducing a song or making color commentary, always had a huge smile on his face, and came across as genuinely excited. His hair was either platinum blonde or grey, and from our distant (but sick) balcony seats, he appeared to be older than the rest of the band. Also, he looked like Julian Assange. None of that had any impact whatsoever on my enjoyment of the show.
Admittedly I am not familiar with their two-album catalog, but they played the hits that Heckyeahwoman wanted to hear, and I did recognize a few from her streaming the albums. It was cool, their sometimes Isis-meets-jangly-yet-kinda-droney-indie-rock-sound went over really well live. With the better sound quality, relative to the opener, none of the instruments got drowned out in the frequency of others.
I think the pop sensibilities the band employs in their music really keeps the attention of the audience, because let's be honest, if you're not typically into this type of music, it could be a snoozefest. Great vocals, combined with a knack for sneaking in catchy and sometimes repetitive guitar lines, both also play a huge part in that.
Very catchy, very well done, I look forward to picking up some vinyl in the near future. I also look forward to any opportunity to be seen with Heckyeahwoman in public.
I've never seen Bon Iver, and word on the street is that I may never have the chance. But as long as Volcano Choir is around, I can totes live with that. And even if Volcano Choir weren't around, I could still totes live with that.