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Down-to-earth artists rock the Riverside

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Photo courtesy CJ Foeckler

Photo courtesy CJ Foeckler

I can tell I’ve been to a great concert when I find it nearly impossible to describe afterward. Sure, I could use some painful music cliches in an attempt to make a concert seem deep, but the truth is, some concerts can’t be communicated in words. That’s exactly why we have music.

Last Sunday, Bon Iver played at The Riverside Theater, 116 W. Wisconsin Ave., with opener The Daredevil Christopher Wright.

Both of these bands make you forget your surroundings. You become engrossed in the strange way music can evoke feelings unlike anything else.

The Daredevil Christopher Wright, out of Eau Claire, Wis., opened the show. Not only were the band members refreshingly modest, considering their skill with a multitude of instruments and their execution of numerous musical genres, but these guys were also the kind of band you want to be friends with.

Jon Sunde, vocalist among other talents for Daredevil, said the band has been playing together for about six years and just released their first full-length album, “In Deference to a Broken Back.”

“For us it’s the culmination of a couple of years of work, and also the product of a lot of time in Eau Claire and the community we experienced there,” Sunde said.

Sunde said Daredevil focused on the profound and the mundane as a concept for the album. He said they tried to capture the depth in life’s mundane events through music.

“One of the traps we as songwriters often fall into is if you want to write a song about love or heartache, you try to take on the entirety of that concept and it often comes out as melodramatic and too sweeping, and you get cliches,” Sunde said. “But it was interesting to find when I could focus more specifically on a single moment, on a focused event, you accessed these concepts more effectively.”

Daredevil was all about crowd participation, or “partic” as they abbreviated it. They had the crowd hum along, sing some of the chorus and even chant “blood” at one point. They didn’t take themselves too seriously, and even joked about having “domination” and “power” tattooed over their hearts at one point.

The band’s versatility could be felt in every element of its music: vocal techniques were always varied, instruments were always changing (they even used a recorder), and genres included doo-wop, rock, a tribal-sounding percussion piece and a few harmonic pieces. Beyond that, Daredevil’s songs spoke to a real range of experiences, making light of the serious and drawing powerful emotion from the painful.

Sunde said Daredevil got this gig because they’ve known the band members of Bon Iver for a number of years. Sunde said Daredevil worked with Justin Vernon of Bon Iver in the downtime before they mixed their album.

“We played some shows with them around the area prior to Bon Iver’s tour,” Sunde said. “Since then, we really loved the idea of playing together. They invited us to play the show, and it’s a pretty cool opportunity, especially since we have been touring a bunch since the release of the record.”

Bon Iver’s performance at the Riverside was heart-felt and overwhelming. The band plays what can best be described as vocally driven acoustic music. Lead singer Justin Vernon was captivating with his tragic and graceful voice.

Before thanking the audience and everyone who has supported Bon Iver, Vernon apologized for being annoyingly thankful, as he said he’s been told from time to time. Earlier Sunday, Vernon acted as honorary chair of AIDS Walk Wisconsin, and performed for free at the walk.

Bon Iver’s sound meshed well with Daredevil’s, but it was completely distinct as well. Prior to this concert, I had only appreciated feedback in music maybe once or twice. Bon Iver did a whole segment playing with feedback and it sounded unreal. These boys understand how to make their instruments work for them.

This show was the kind that forces you to escape everyday life, to escape reality, and to live in an experience completely separate from everything else.

The set went by quickly, and Vernon acknowledged this, joking that the band only has 11 songs. He promised they will have at least another three songs in a year or so.

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