Music becomes powerful when it has the ability to affect more than the listeners’ ears by touching their hearts, minds, and souls. Although that may sound a tad bit exaggerated, by these standards, Volcano Choir is a very powerful band. Justin Vernon’s six-man band blew the crowd away on Saturday night with a stellar performance at the Fonda Theatre in Los Angeles.
Concert Review – Led by Justin Vernon, Volcano Choir Hypnotize L.A.
Volcano Choir is often compared to Bon Iver due to their shared frontman, but the band is truly a different cup of tea from Vernon’s previous project. Their music covers more ground in terms of genre variance, and their songs offer the listener great versatility, through sound, lyrics, and meaning. Vernon’s unique voice (assisted with surprisingly pleasant AutoTune use) is a match made in heaven with the former Collections of Colonies of Bees musicians.
The Cloak Ox, an up-and-coming rock band hailing from Minneapolis, opened for Volcano Choir. Their performance had an overall 70s feel – their look, their retro amps and instruments, and their sound all screamed 1970s psychedelic rock. After a long intermission, Volcano Choir took the stage at 11:00 p.m. The wait for the main guys took a while, but they ended up playing roughly past an hour, and man, was it worth the wait!
An hour may seem short for a show, but Volcano Choir have the ability to stop time and make you feel like you have transcended to a different state of being (without any mind-altering substances, I swear). They covered songs from both 2009’s Unmap and the recently released Repave, which Vernon explained was inspired by a nautical theme. The audience cheered for their favorites, including “Comrade,” “Byegone,” and “Still.” Amazingly, however, for most of that one surreal hour, fans stood in silence gazing dreamily at the stage, awed and moved by the music they heard. The experience was spiritual, transcendental, and unlike anything else I’ve seen before.
Vernon and lead guitarist Chris Rosenau were very conversational throughout the night, sharing dialogue with the audience between each song. They were constantly reminding us of their gratitude and humility, and this was exemplified in their performance style, too. Volcano Choir play music with such a raw, genuine yearning to create and share art, and regardless of their superstar status, they focus full attention to the songs rather than themselves. Towards the end of the show, drummer Jon Mueller performed an awesome solo lasting several minutes as fans stood hypnotized by the talent on stage.
The Volcano Choir experience is unlike any other: short in time, but deep and valuable in quality, execution, and effect. As a fan of Bon Iver, I knew I was in for a great show, but I was absolutely blown away by what Volcano Choir brought to the table (or stage, rather). To sum it up in one word, Volcano Choir is magical.
Article by Pauline Pechakjian