Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Volcano Choir at the Fillmore – A Concert Review

The free poster that the Fillmore provides after sellouts
     Synergy is the interaction of multiple elements to produce an effect greater than the sum of those individual elements. So, synergy is not visible, only its effects are. But if it were a visible phenomenon, it would have been on full display during Volcano Choir’s performance at the Fillmore in San Francisco on January 22.
     Volcano Choir is a collaboration of Wisconsin-based artists, who released their second album (Repave) in September 2013.  The band comprises past or current members of bands that include Bon Iver, Collections of Colonies of Bees, Death Blues, and All Tiny Creatures. All of those bands experienced some success, particularly Bon Iver. In fact, we have been fans of Bon Iver since the release of the song “Flume” a number of years ago, but wish they would discover the benefits of caffeine to song writing and arranging. Still, none of bands have the power or potential of Volcano Choir. For example, as compared to the often sedate approach of Bon Iver, the second portion of the song “Still” even left the audience exhausted, as Volcano Choir combined a guitar-driven shoegaze "wall of sound" with a drum-featured song arrangement.
     The setlist is included in this post. Of the songs, “Comrade” and “Byegone” were clearly the most recognizable by the appreciative audience. Volcano Choir nailed the performances of both those songs. Nevertheless, by the end of the evening there were more than a few attendees who switched their favorite Volcano Choir song to “Acetate.” “Acetate” was the song that took best advantage of the ability of so many members of the band to positively contribute to the vocals.  
     The final song prior to the encore set was “Still.” As already noted, the song had two portions/segments. While the second segment was instrumental, the first can most accurately be described as being based on voice processing. Verses sung by Justin Vernon were echoed, looped and otherwise electronically manipulated very effectively.

Bottom line -  If you have an opportunity to see Volcano Choir in concert, grab it.

The setlist at the Fillmore (best recollection):
1. Tiderays
2. Island, IS
3. Comrade
4. Valleyonaire
5. Keel
6. Dancepack
7. The Agreement
8. Alaskans
9. Acetate
10. Byegone
11. Still
12. Almanac
13. Youlogy

Below is the NPR Volcano Choir performance in 2013

Tiderays - 1:30
Island, IS - 5:20
Comrade - 10:10
The Valleyinaire - 14:10
Keel - 19:55
Dancepack - 26:05
Blue Ni Ni (The Volcano Schores) - 30:30
Alaskans - 36:05
Acetate - 41:50
Byegone - 46:50

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