Monday, September 16, 2013

{RECAP} sylvan esso, volcano choir

Last Thursday I jogged my excited self over to the 9:30 Club for the perfect pairing of up-and-coming synth pop duo Sylvan Esso and Justin Vernon's rocking side project Volcano Choir.

TIOJ Interview alums Sylvan Esso opened up the night to a packed house, immediately impressing everyone with their hit "Hey Mami." While I was the only one around absolutely grooving to their first song, it was only a matter of time (and some convincing from the persuasive dancing of Amelia and Nick) until the audience was vibing to the band's electronic music.

It was so great to watch Nick mix all of the music in a live setting while Amelia killed it with her vocals and dance moves (my favorite being "The Bunny Hop"). At one point, Amelia put up her hair while Nick encouraged the crowd to have a dance party and you knew shit was about to get great. Indeed, their last song "Play It Right" had crazy energy and has all the makings of a perfect indie dance hit.

(If you weren't able to catch Sylvan Esso last week, never fear DC! The band will be back on November 19 at Black Cat with Minor Alps. You MUST check them out!!)

Next up was Volcano Choir, the dream team of Bon Iver's Justin Vernon and fellow Wisconsinites Collections of Colonies of Bees. Just by looking at the setup of the stage, you could tell that this group knew what they were doing and what their music was all about. The backdrop of the set was reminiscent of actually being inside a volcano (and not unlike the cave-like feel of Bon Iver's last tour) and Justin sang from a natural looking pulpit, from which he had a bound notebook of supposed lyrics as well as some serious audio mixing equipment.

Volcano Choir's aesthetic certainly carried through to their music as they put on a great show, blending the unique vocals of Justin Vernon with the serious musical talent and uncontrollable ability to jam of Collections of Colonies of Bees. I looked around at one point and was in awe of the fact that the crowd was literally head-banging to the songs of the dude from Bon Iver.

Halfway through their set, I ran up to the second-level of the 9:30 Club where I could fully appreciate the impressive light show they had during my most favorite song "Byegone."

Overall, this was one of my favorite shows of the year. It showcased musicians of true talent who have come together and collaborated to create new and fresh music that unpretentiously demonstrates their range of abilities. Whether a smaller group like Sylvan Esso who came together while on hiatus from other indie bands or the more established talent of Justin Vernon, these musicians aren't resting on past successes. Instead, they continues to explore music in fresh and unique ways. Volcano Choir's performance of the Kanye West and Bon Iver's "Lost In The World," interpreted as a six-minute jam session, best demonstrated this realization and was a definite highlight of the evening.

Next Up: My birthday's coming early this year thanks to Alt-J and Lord Huron back at the 9:30 Club on Thursday!

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