Published Aug 03, 2014While Bon Iver has been pretty quiet recently, project mastermind Justin Vernon is still active. Volcano Choir, his atmospheric rock project with members of post-rockers Collections of Colonies of Bees, blends Vernon's versatile voice with Collections' shifting, ambient instruments to create a maximalist sound that fit perfectly on the massive Osheaga Mountain stage.
Volcano Choir's sound is large and expansive, and tunes including "Byegone" and "Comrade" from the band's 2013 sophomore record, Repave, sounded positively epic. With three guitarists, the layered instruments were clear and harmonic, and Vernon's vocals — controlled by an effects panel behind the singer's podium — fit whatever mood his bandmates were instrumentally conveying, from triumphant falsetto on "Tiderays" to forward rock on "Acetate."
The band wasn't just the sum of its parts; newer track "Valleyonaire" featured an arena-rock chorus, one of the most straightforward sounds to come from either Vernon or Collections, but evolved into an extended instrumental post-rock outro.
The set ended with the stunning "Still" from the band's 2009 debut, Unmap — featuring the same vocals as "Woods" from Bon Iver's Blood Bank EP — with looped falsetto vocals and a fantastic drum solo outro from percussive maestro Jon Mueller. While many fans may see Volcano Choir as a distraction before the next Bon Iver record, the group proved they aren't a detour but another great group in their own right.
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