As you may have noticed, Urban Agrarian has been on a bit of a hiatus.  Several factors have led to the near-disintegration of our blog. First of all, I, Amanda, have moved to Copenhagen, Denmark to study abroad for the academic year.  Secondly, both Spencer and I have done away with our digital cameras to pursue analogue photography, making it difficult to regularly post videos and photos.  That being said, I flew to Paris this weekend to attend Pitchfork’s first overseas festival and armed only with my iPhone, I could not help but feel the need to blog about this experience, especially since the headlining band has been such a big part of Urban Agrarian history.

At first when I heard that Pitchfork was coming to Paris, I was curious about how big their European following was and if they would be able to pull off a something so huge so far away from their home base in Chicago.  The festival did sell out, but that was not so surprising considering that Bon Iver’s European tour sold out nearly every show far in advance, and the lineup also included internationally renowned DJ acts such as Aphex Twin and Four Tet.  At the festival my suspicions that the French weren’t really reading Pitchfork were confirmed as the majority of people I met turned out to be from the States, the UK or from Australia– fellow expats and travelers who thought “Paris, why not?” and planned a trip around seeing some of their favorite acts from back home.

The first band I saw on Friday was Real Estate.  This was all too appropriate considering the last time I attended Pitchfork festival in Chicago on a day pass in 2010, they were also the first show of my experience.  However, lack of scorching heat made this experience a bit more pleasant.  The band played a lot off of their fantastic new album, Days, as well as all my old favorites.  Here is a video I took on my iPhone of the band preforming one of my favorite of their new songs, “Municipality”

My favorite act from the first night, Washed Out, played next. This band has such an amazing stage presence– transforming their chilled out tracks into a fantastic danceable live sound.  The costumes were great, the light effects superb, and even the more reserved euro-hipsters in the crowd couldn’t help but get down when they finished their set with “Eyes Be Closed.”

Wild Beasts finished off the indie-rock portion of the night’s lineup before one after another major DJ act took the stage.  I only stayed for Mondkopf and part of Aphex Twin before splitting due to headache (too much bass for this girl), but I will say that the lights and effects set up for each set were top notch.  Mondkopf’s minimalist black and white lazer show pretty much blew my mind, and Aphex Twin’s devilish distortion of the crowd looked exactly how I would imagine a bad acid trip to feel.  My two festival mates came home around 7am the next morning and filled me in on all I had missed, but I was pretty glad to have saved my strength for day 2.

Determined to get my front row spot for Bon Iver, I arrived at the gates of Grand Halle de la Villette half an hour before they opened at 2. I secured my front center place with little trouble and psyched myself up to remain in the same spot for 6 acts. The Rosebuds played their typical set to a small but growing crowd. It was nothing special, but still nice to hear familiar music from home after 3 months of being abroad. Next was Kathleen Edwards, Canadian country-rock musician and rumored girlfriend of none other than Vern himself. I was a little disappointed that she didn’t play the one song I knew, “Mercury” (as Justin Vernon did a fantastic cover), however I was overall pretty impressed by her. Her music reminded me of driving around the countryside– so distinctively North American. Then came the painfully long wait through Stornoway and Jens Leckman’s sets. Neither particularly interested me but at least Jens Leckman had good stage presence. Lykke Li was the last act before Bon Iver and I expected more from her. Although she had an amazing stage presence– reminiscent of Stevie Knicks meets Mary Kate Olsen– she played a lot of slower tracks and was surprised when the audience was being “too still.”

Finally the time came for Bon Iver’s festival finale. They played such an amazing show to an absolutely adoring crowd of fans– people who would stand in the same spot for 8 hours without food or drink to see them play. The show began similarly to their other shows with “Perth” bleeding into “Minnesota, WI” and finishing up the segment with “Holocene.” The only major difference between the two Milwaukee shows and this one was that I was alone in my cheers after the “Holocene” line about Milwaukee. Colin Stetson threw down an intense sax solo in between two songs and it seemed like the band had an overall better flow than they did at the beginning of their tour. They ended the show with Beth/Rest before their encore of “Flume” and an over-the-top spectacular rendition of “Wolves” during which the audience actually did go insane near the end. I was so satisfied with the show after that and, turning, about ready to go home, they took everybody by surprise and re-entered for a second encore, topping everything off with the classic, “For Emma.”

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Impressions of the Past: Vern Edition 6.20.11

To celebrate the release of Bon Iver’s second full length album, Bon Iver, Bon Iver, our radio show this week featured an hour of Justin Vernon.  Tune into WSUM every Monday this summer from 8-9pm for the best of Urban Agrarian on Impressions of the Past.
Download the entire show here.


DeYarmond Edison, “The Lake” Self Titled
Justin Vernon, “The Orient and the Gatsby’s Slew of Choices” Self Record
Bon Iver, “Re:Stacks” For Emma Forever Ago
Bon Iver, “The Wolves (Act I and II)” Live at Madison Pop Fest
Volcano Choir, “Island, IS” Unmap
Bon Iver, “Mercury” Kathleen Edwards cover
Bon Iver, “I Can’t Make You Love Me” Calgary Demo
GAYNGS, “By Your Side” Daytrotter Session
Bon Iver, “Holocene” Bon Iver, Bon Iver

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S. Carey @ High Noon Saloon 5.12.11

A couple of weeks ago S. Carey played in Madison as one of the first shows on their midwestern tour. The band, led by Bon Iver drummer Sean Carey played to a surprisingly large crowd for a Thursday night at the High Noon. After opener Other Lives had finished, S. Carey took the stage and started off their set with an ambient jam. It became evident that the group of musicians Carey had assembled to bring the songs from his solo record, In the Dirt, would do more than just play through the record as it stood. As the band began playing tunes I recognized from the album, their musical abilities shone through. Carey’s songs were intensified in the live setting, with epic crescendos when he would step away from the keyboards and over to a tom he had in front of him, adding another layer of percussion to the already lush sound. Peruse the pictures below and check out S. Carey’s live show if you get the chance.

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VIDEO: Sharon van Etten in Der Rathskeller || 4.8.11

We posted last week about Sharon Van Etten’s show in Der Rathskeller last week, but today we bring you a video of Sharon’s song “Love More” (an Urban Agrarian Favorite). One of the longest songs we’ve ever posted, the song stops in the middle due to sound issues on stage and almost ends there, but Sharon finished the song after cries of anguish from the crowd.

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Photographers + Breathe Owl Breathe || The Sett 4.17.11

Maren of Photographers

Last night, I wandered into the brand new Union South for the first time to see two of my favorite regional folk bands, Photographers and Breathe Owl Breathe. The show was put on by WUD Music and Art Committees in the venue, The Sett, as the first “Gallery Jam” in the new space.

Photographers from Chicago played first. Last time I saw them at the Bassment last winter, I was sitting around their feet all bundled up under the lights of the Mercury. This was a much different atmosphere, but their enchanting folk sounded equally as charming, though much bigger. Maren’s voice is simply breathtaking.  Her range is spectacular and the control she keeps over her pitch.

Andréa and Micah of Breathe Owl Breathe

That was something both bands had in common– amazing female vocalists. Breathe Owl Breathe’s female vocalist (also cellist, & various other instrument player) Andréa had such a strong, opera-esque voice.  The band played a great set, as expected.  They are one of the most fun to watch bands in my opinion.  Each of the three members plays a variety of instruments, giving the band a very full sound.  The guitarist, Micah, and Andréa use props such as wolf hats and scuba gear to accompany the adorable stories told through each song.  I really enjoyed the song, “Swimming” with its simple, charming chorus and “wushing” sounds.  Of course it’s alway great to see Micah cannonball off of the stage at the end.

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Urban Agrarian Presents: Bassment Show 4.9.11

Saturday, April 9th, Urban Agrarian presented Blessed Feathers, Dastardly, Conrad Plymouth and Jeremiah Nelson at the Bassment. This a unique microphone-free show and a beautiful, warm night drew an attic full of Madisonians.  There was an intimate feel to the night as the bands interacted with the audience and vice versa.

Blessed Feather’s set was amazing.  They had such a good live folky energy.  They played a bunch of new songs on an album they hope to release soon.  Their last album can be found at their bandcamp here.

Dastardly was the one band I hadn’t heard before this show.  They played a really fun set, continuously interacting with the audience.  Though their myspace says they are an “Americana” band, they definitely had a bluegrass feel which mixed beautifully with the warm weather.

Conrad Plymouth quieted things down as the only one-man act of the evening.  His music invited people to sit down and really listen to his lyrics and acoustic guitar strumming.  At one point, he had the audience sing along which, in that setting, had a powerful effect.

Jeremiah Nelson played last, and having missed his sold out release show the other week at the Frequency, I was really excited to finally hear the songs from his new album, Drugs Make You Sober live.  Jeremiah said he felt really exposed doing a mic-less set, but his music sounded great.  Considering his album is pretty rock-and-roll, playing acoustic really changed the tone of it.  Jeremiah was joined by another guitarist and a violinist.  The effect was gorgeous and captivating music to end a great show.

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Sharon Van Etten || Der Rathskeller 4.8.11

Sharon Van Etten packed the Union on Friday, April 8th. I was curious to see how Sharon’s quiet, feminine, and often melancholy music would do in the open, noisy Rathskeller. Upon seeing the electric guitars, I felt a little more assured that it would drown out the chatter.
This show definitely wasn’t as intimate as the her show earlier at Strictly Discs, and people couldn’t really decide if they should sit down or stand, but I thoroughly enjoyed it nonetheless. Sharon has such a captivating voice, and backed by a bassist and drummer, it really filled up the space. She ended the show with my favorite song, “Love More”, using a harmonium. There was some feedback at the beginning so she stopped and almost ended the show. After some boos from the crowd, she went into it again, this time more successfully.

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