Thursday, October 31, 2013

Live Review: Volcano Choir, 9:30 Club (9/12/13)

The sad reality about Volcano Choir shows are that a large amount of people are there to see Justin Vernon. The Bon Iver superstar's involvement in the project drove in plenty of fans solely due to name value, but Volcano Choir isn't a band that features a "frontman." It's a magical collective of similar minded and equally talented musicians, merging together to form wonderful music. In a live setting, this feeling of teamwork displays itself even more blatantly, creating a performance that could be appreciated by all for the musical brilliance coming from the stage.

Played against a stony backdrop, the majority of the set held a very earthy and organic feel. The sound of the drums echoed as if the set was played inside of a cave, while the guitars sounded like they were played a couple of feet away instead of several yards. It all created a musical experience that encapsulated the entire audience, circling them with sound rather than forcing it at them.

The majority of the setlist consisted of the entirety of their fantastic new record Repave, a beautiful piece of work that combined Vernon's work on Bon Iver, Bon Iver with the collective influences of the rest of the band, giving it a slightly more experimental tinge than Bon Iver. While Bon Iver performs with a large backing band of many different musicians, Volcano Choir sticks to the normal rock kit of guitar, bass, drums and keys, making it all the more fascinating the soundscapes they create with a limited scope of tools.

The band also had promised to play some "new" unreleased songs in addition to songs off their two full lengths, and it's unsurprising that those two didn't end up making Repave. The first track "The Valleyinaire" was an upbeat piano and drums led jam that could almost be considered pop rock with its surprisingly formulaic structure, unsophisticated melodies and catchy chorus. "Blue Ni Ni" moved in even another direction, combining twinkling guitar riffs with Vernon's processed vocals. Both songs were welcome changes from Repave's grandiosity, pushing some more variety into the performance and asserting the band as the creative masterminds they are and able to perform many in different feels and genres.

Going into final track of the pre-encore set, some girl randomly yelled "I LOVE YOU JUSTIN!" That comment was ignored, and was surprisingly the only bit of immature heckling heard throughout the entire evening. More symbolically however was the fact that it was the only time that the collectivist nature of the group was broken throughout the entire night. It's very rare that every member on stage is both wonderful to watch and incredible at their respective instrument, but there really was no frontman on the stage on this Thursday evening. Volcano Choir both entertained and captivated all who came to watch, putting on one of the more magnificent sets you'll probably ever see.

NPR "Live In Concert" Recording

No comments:

Post a Comment