A mid-sized, sweltering-hot, rectangular room with a stage and folding chairs seemed like an unlikely setting for an indie-rock show. However, The Grand Little Theater in Eau Claire, WI packed in a (high school heavy) crowd of locals last Sunday night, May 31 for Eau Claire’s The Daredevil Christopher Wright with Minneapolis’ Peter Wolf Crier opening.
Peter Wolf Crier opened with the rambling “Crutch and Cane”, the first song off their debut album, Inter-Be (Jagjaguwar 2010). Peter Pisano (of Wars of 1812), strumming out simple, folky guitar and belting a range of falsetto with Eau Claire’s favorite drummer, Brian Moen (of Laarks, Amateur Love… and the Shouting Matches) on his vintage drum kit, created an old-time indiefied folk sound. Throughout their set, as the sweat poured, Pisano and Moen continued to push it to “play harder”– busting out many of the songs on their album with gaining intensity. The full-out bluesy “Down Down Down” began with simple chords,riffs and sorrowful lyrics, but escalated into Pisano literally shouting (in key I might add) off of his stool and Moen banging out simple, slow but loud drumbeats as distortion and looped-moaning vocals turned this song into a battle cry.
After breaking outside in attempt to cool down, the crowd headed back into the sweat box theater for The Daredevil Christopher Wright. This Wisconsin trio of Jon Sunde, Jesse Edgington, and Jason Sunde began with the song from which they derived their name “The Daredevil Christopher Wright” about, well, a “dangerous” daredevil named Christopher Wright. Filled with lighthearted lyrics reminiscent of a beloved childhood storybook, this charming song included acoustic fingerpicking, whistling, light percussion, and the trio’s mesmerizing harmonies. The DCW is one of the few bands that are able to turn heavy subjects, such as cancer, death and loss, into lighthearted, optimistic, and, at times, rock-out songs. The crowd was captured by their often quirky stage presence and mastered musicianship– multiplied by Jon’s classical voice studies. Nearing the end of the show, Jon emotionally dedicated their post punk song “A Conversation About Cancer” off of In Difference to a Broken Back (Amble Down Records 2009) to Kyle Christian, who died of cancer at age 28 this past month. Jon said that Christian had thought of this song as a battle anthem against cancer. With bashing cymbals and shouting cries, the whole crowd was jumping in the chaos of this hopeful and courageous track. The DCW finished off their set strong and concluded with a three song encore.