By Sophie Mueller
A broken heart.
A cold Wisconsin winter.
These were all an essential part of Bon Iver’s debut album, For Emma, Forever Ago. For three months Justin Vernon, the lead vocalist and musician, retreated to a family cabin after recently breaking up with his girlfriend and dispersing from his previous band, DeYarmond Edison. This was the beginning of a venture that created a beautiful, sad, uplifting, and heart-wrenching album. Who knew what Bon Iver was about to become? Three albums and one Grammy later, Justin Vernon continues to innovate and curate music that heals the human soul. After ten years, Bon Iver revisited the beauty and ingenuity of their debut album. I was fortunate enough to attend his concert in my hometown of Milwaukee, Wisconsin. The stage, littered with various candelabras in sync with the percussion, lighting up on beat and creating an ethereal atmosphere. The simplistic lighting and stage set up made a crowd of about 20,000 people feel as if they were at an intimate concert with 20 of their closest friends. The opening bands, Field Report and Collections of Colonies of Bees were equally impressive and built up the energy in the crowd. Each from Milwaukee, they graciously took the stage and fans eagerly gave them their full attention, with both bands getting standing ovations. Although Justin did not play any songs from his most recent album, 22, A Million, he played the entirety of For Emma, Forever Ago. His performance of “Creature Fear” brought the whole arena to its feet, as it started with a simplistic guitar and swelled into a massive production with layered guitar. As soon as Vernon started playing the first chords of “Skinny Love”, the entire crowd erupted with happiness, singing along with every word. Vernon’s rendition of “Woods,” emphasized his solitude on stage, as he used the loop pedal, filling the arena with his powerful vocals. He brought his former roommate and friend who contributed vocals for “Flume” on stage to perform the song, seemingly transporting everyone in attendance back to the inception of Emma. In between songs, he shared personal information regarding touring For Emma, Forever Ago as well as the people that helped him make the album possible, giving his mega fans an inside look into the creative process. Quite possibly the best moment of the night was when Justin dedicated his song “Holocene” to the city of Milwaukee, causing the crowd to erupt into cheers when he sang “you’re in Milwaukee off your feet.”
Vernon is also curating an awesome in environment in his hometown of Eau Claire, Wisconsin. A small town four hours north of Milwaukee, Justin has opened a hotel there as well as creating a music festival, dubbed Eaux Claires, which occurs in the summer and is going on its fourth year. His philanthropic work with local organizations prompts others to get involved with the community. Working with other acclaimed artists such as Feist, Grizzly Bear, and Iron & Wine, Justin collaborated on the album, Dark Was The Night, with all proceeds going towards HIV/AIDS research. Additionally, he was honorary chair of AIDS Walk Wisconsin, an event put on each October through the non-profit AIDS Resource Center of Wisconsin. The night of the concert Justin also gave a shout out to the Sojourner Peace Center, which helps women suffering from abuse. Clearly, Vernon has made it a priority to put his time, money, and effort into creating a stronger local community in conjunction with his music career.
After the concert, my family and I looked at one another taking in the greatness of the past hour and a half. This concert was a special night as we listened to our favorite songs from the past 10 years together. Bon Iver and their performance was essentially a love letter to Wisconsin, embracing imperfections and flaws, and surrendering our burdens or stress to the power of music. Despite the excitement of Bon Iver celebrating the 10 year anniversary of Emma, Vernon warned us that we must be careful, as he said “nostalgia can be a dangerous thing.” Yet for everyone that has been following Bon Iver’s journey, this one night was unforgettable as we celebrated music that continues to unite us, even after ten years.
By Lauren Smith
While living in Madrid, I had the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to see Hinds perform a hometown show in front of their friends and family at Joy Eslava one fateful Thursday night in 2016. Having only listened to their album a handful of times, I was blown away by their endlessly cool and confident aura, sporting silky pinstripe men's shirts, styles of sneakers I didn’t even know existed, and overalls most likely snagged from one of the many thrift stores along the streets of Malasana, Madrid’s most trendy neighborhood. The second they enter the stage, they redefine your perception of cool.
Hanging around their ex-boyfriends in the recording studio, they never thought to pick up a guitar themselves, given Spain’s somewhat “machismo” culture. Although the “garage-band” scene in Madrid was more alive than ever, there were few female artists, let alone bands in entirety until Hinds. Lead singer, Carlotta Cosials and lead guitarist, Ana Perrote, made their start covering Bob Dylan songs to learn guitar. They started performing small gigs and recorded their first two singles, “Bamboo” and “Trippy Gum”. By 2014, the four person chick rock band was receiving accolades from illustrious magazines and critics and playing shows and festivals throughout Europe. Their first album, “Leave Me Alone”, debuted at number 47 on the UK Albums Chart and began to raise awareness of their sound in the states.
True to form, Carlotta walked on stage with a tallboy PBR and water in bright red bell bottoms for their performance on January 18th at the Old Rock House to a medium-sized, but avid group of fans. Their grungy style and endearing Spanish accent captured our hearts the entirety of the performance. Heads were bobbing and swaying to their endlessly catchy indie beach-rock sound. The adoring crowd also got a taste of “I Don’t Run”, their long-awaited sophomore album set for release August 6th. Over a cigarette after the show, Carlotta explained its soccer-themed social media campaign. “In these political times, we thought, What would be more Spanish than anything else? Soccer!”. Their “New For You” campaign shows the band and their close friends dancing around the soccer field. With their addicting personalities and sound, “I Don’t Run” is sure to be a smash success.
By Brigid Dolan
When I was sent the Slow Dakota EP, Rumspringa, at the end of January, I didn’t have any background knowledge of his previous work. After rifling through the countless albums I was being asked to promote that week, I finally got around to listening to Rumspringa, and was instantly enthralled. The EP masterfully weaves influences of chamber pop, electropop, and delicate instrumentals to form an entirely unique sound; almost reminiscent of your favorite new wave band of the 80s with a twist of entirely modern lyrics.
Listening to this at the end of January in the Midwest, where it was a devastating temperature of below freezing accompanied by ice and wind, was a much-needed refresher, and was amplified by finally getting around to reading the book I promised myself I would read in early December. If we’re going to talk about ~aesthetics~ the artwork on the album alone would draw me in, if it wasn’t my job to listen to it in the first place. The artwork presents images of vintage and rustic Americana-esque visuals, but I was surprised with what played when I started the album.
And in case you’re wondering, the beautifully entropic relationship of the artwork and the initial sound does hold up throughout the EP. My favorite song from Rumspringa, Jebediah Iowa, expresses this beautifully in the idea that once you think you have the sound of the song figured out, it does a 180 and completely changes into a totally different sound, yet still staying harmonious with the beginning.
The music was like a punch in the face, but in the best way possible. When writing this review I tried to think of similar artists that I could compare, but none came to mind. Not knowing how to exactly describe the genre of Slow Dakota is a much-welcomed surprise that I was happy to experience. I’m already calling it and saying that Slow Dakota will be one of my favorite new artists (to me) of 2018, and I’ve started delving into his earlier work, with much of it taking over my unreasonable amount of playlists on Spotify. So please, do yourself a favor, and give Slow Dakota a listen for your own sake.
Perfect scenario for listening: a mild-temperature Spring day reading in your room with the windows wide open
By Annie Bryan
But wait, there’s more! Quick disclaimer to toss on this bad buoy, being that this article is an opinion piece and does not reflect the mindset of Already Bored, unless it does, in which case, that’s pretty cool.
Get this. It’s 11pm on a Friday night. You, a gradually aging, over-educated, and painfully self-aware sack of drying skin and ever-weakening bones, are just trying to dance in a friend of a friend’s apartment. You have recently turned in a painfully disappointing term paper, destined to fail, and getting a lil’ “loosey goosey” for 2 hours is the only way your double-stuffed with suffering week will be worth it. You spent thirty minutes on your winged eyeliner. The host is playing “Dixieland Delight,” a topic-neutral country song, and barely a third of the crowd is participating through chanting the ‘Bama verses between the lines. You, trapped in Tartarus, are beginning to crumble as the song is played for a second or third time. The night is floundering, as nobody in the squished abode has been given access to change the song, and are thus forced to repeat “f*ck Auburn” over and over again. Time is running out before the big mood of the group plummets into the nether regions forever. Don’t let “Dixieland Delight” ruin the life of the party.
Fix the night. Take the AUX, free the crowd from whatever h*ll-scape “Dixieland Delight” is, and experience some Iyaz. With these 12 super quick and mega-simple steps, you too can run the AUX and save your comrades at any social event from the vicious “Dixieland Delight” dictatorship.
1. Stop being a passive member of society.
The time to act is now. From side-comments and petty drama between peers to centuries-old social justice movements, your participation fuels the way the nation moves. Do not forget the power you have within yourself, or the power you hold when people grow and act together. Acting at a small scale may influence big change, and know that you playing “Hey-Ya” by OutKast could fuel a relationship that promotes structural change.
To bend the social pressures of passivity is to become engaged. “An engaged member of society will take the time to educate oneself, form an opinion, and participate civically,” SLU graduate Brenna Sullivan wrote for Her Campus at SLU, “an engaged member of society will be given the time and the capacity to critically think and act within the world around them for true betterment of society.” We must push aside our demons of silence and empower ourselves. Only through pursuing engagement and personal growth may we hope to better our communities. By extension, pushing ourselves to take that AUX away from its doom may promote community through shared enjoyment of music.
2. Adopt an intersectional and trans-inclusive feminist mindset and command your space.
Commanding the space your body takes up? What a concept, by dudes. As a recently-engaged member of your local community, you have probably heard tale of the cultural phenomenon on the intersection of gender identity and the space your body takes up in an environment. On the reclamation of space, particularly for ~women~, author A. Lynn writes for the Nerdy Feminist:
“On a daily basis, I am acutely aware that the dominant message to me and people like me is that we should be smaller... women are socialized to take up as little space as possible. However, I can't help but feel that this is one of those cases of an intersection where the pressure to be smaller on fat women is doubled... it's simple politeness to not invade other people's spaces and to keep your body within your own seat/space. But I also need to make a shift to realizing that I am allowed to take up the space that is actually designated for me. It's not bad or wrong to do so and I shouldn't have to shrink away because someone else is in my space.”
As Lynn reflects, there is more to reclaiming space than just gender and mass. Intersectional identities that ~women~ hold other than their gender also come into play, such as body size, race, ability, language, age, ethnicity, socioeconomic status, religion, the physical context and its dominant culture, and felt, expressed, and presented gender. In recognizing the oppressions that impact the lives of everyone around you, it’s important to be consistently conscious and respectful of intersectional oppressions that impact every person in different ways in different settings. With setting-relevant intersectional and trans-inclusive feminism in mind, it’s important for each of us to recognize the times of our lives in which we hold a privileged identity, whether those settings last decades, like the formal and informal education we received, or seconds, like brief and negative interactions with people in work environments. Oppression and identity will consistently play a factor in one’s life and their experience and interpretation of the world.
Though you may interpret space differently than every human around you, do not invalidate the pressure you may feel to be a less-engaged and “space-filling” person. You deserve to be here, and you deserve to take up the space you command. The social event you are currently at, the “Dixieland Delight” massacre of happiness, it’s time for you to take up more space than you think you should.
Work at not being a passive member of a social setting, command your space and presence at this gathering, and know that you could be the one to take the night from the mighty host, and give it back to the people. How many people really want to be listening to “DD” right now? Your guess is as good as mine, but those around you probably want to listen to Jason Derulo as much as you do. Recognize the relative and context-dependent space that you can and do take up, and up your game. It’s time for Justin Bieber.
3. While you’re at it, get a little bit into that whole Marxism thing.
Adopt a Marxist “mi casa es su casa” mentality. This gathering was hosted with the only goal of entertaining friends. It’s literally hours devoted to giving rights to those who attend. No matter whose home you’re in, remind yourself that this conglomerate of time is devoted to the public. Their event is your event, and everyone has the same rights.
“Mi casa es su casa?” More like “my party is your party.” More like “my AUX is your AUX.” Property and ownership is a manifestation, and night-time social gatherings are not (hopefully) driven by the manipulation of the labor force for personal economic profit. The people around you deserve to all be living on the same page, having fun, enjoying the same things, and entertaining the same rights.
There is power in our shared AUX, and without aggression, a smooth transition of power can take place. We are here to foster a community driven by the consent of ourselves and each other in stepping away from the misogynistic Inferno of all that “DD” represents. How can you hope to foster an environment for equality when your values physically will not let your body scream “Hold her uptight, against a wall” with a gaggle of strangers? Go rogue like Sarah Palin and jump head-first into Marxism at your next social gathering, empower yourself and empower your peers. Nobody deserves to suffer to “Dixieland Delight,” free the people and step up to the plate. Everyone is suffering under this regime, and your democratic values must now drive you to grow from a citizen to a conscious, malevolent, and temporary citizen leader.
4. Do you often experience social anxiety? Ignore her.
If possible, try to temporarily push aside your demons, my friend. Mental illness? Don’t know them, sorry. Adopt the haiku found below for a moment instead.
“Good-bye my demon!!!!!!!!!!
Just until the other side!!!!!!!!!
Time for me to fly!!!!!!!!!”
6. Hype yourself up.
Life is filled with platitudes. Here are some that you have heard so many times that they may mean nothing at all. Read them anyway.
“Do or do not. There is no try.”
“When everything seems to be going against you,
remember that the airplane takes off against the wind,
not with it.”
Are you hyped up? I sure am, brother. If you’re not hyped as heck, some other ways to be your own hype-man include reminding yourself of a good grade you received last week, thinking about the affirmation your friend told you recently, making a list of all of your accomplishments, forgiving yourself for something, and preparing “Eenie Meenie” by Justin Bieber on your phone to blast to the world. Now the real fun begins.
7. Find the AUX.
Use your eyes and ears, young one. Where is the sound coming from? Focus. You got this. Don’t like using your eyes and ears? Echolocation is the big mood this season, hop on the bandwagon before it’s too late. Whatever your means of sensory analysis reigns most effective, use that method and find the sweet sweet speaker system.
8. Plug your phone in.
Bye bye, “Sweet Caroline!” Unplug the disaster phone with the force of Thor. Boom, the room is hurtled into silence. Tension rises as everyone looks your way, four billion pairs of eyes land on you.
9. QUICKLY! Remember that it’s okay to be a “Bad Feminist.”
With steps 1 and 2 firmly established, it’s important to forgive ourselves for the horrid values found within the song you are about to ring through the cosmos. Our song choice is rather sexist. However, we must not over-police ourselves for all that we do. On the pressuring constrictions of feminism, Roxane Gay valiantly states:
“Bad feminism seems the only way I can both embrace myself as a feminist and be myself… I cannot and will not deny the importance and absolute necessity of feminism. Like most people, I'm full of contradictions, but I also don't want to be treated like shit for being a woman. I am a bad feminist. I would rather be a bad feminist than no feminist at all. (The Guardian)”
Self-criticism to the point of self-harm is not the goal of playing a socially-necessary song to a body of 30 or so undergraduates. Recognize the flaws within the music you want to hear and move forward with your microcosm of social and structural change. All you can do it be conscious of the things that influence our society and act as often as you can.
10. With that out of the way, we can now play “Eenie Meenie” by Justin Bieber on the speaker system.
Yes, this tune turns women into actual soulless nouns for beloved JB to manhandle. Yes, thinking about the lyrics to this song makes your blood boil. Yes, her beat is popping. Yes, she is catchy. Remind yourself of Roxane Gay, remind yourself of who you are. Let yourself have this. Self care. Let go.
11. Whether you are a queue or shuffle kind of guest, give your crowd a round of songs to launch you into stardom.
With Justin Bieber playing, vibes are sure to have a big come-up. Though you can never hope to implement a perfect AUX playlist, know that you came from the masses suffering the “Dixieland Delight” dictatorship, with best intentions in mind. Most leaderships born with benevolent meaning and design, from the people, are destined to be an improvement from leaderships recycled from the previously mighty.
To distribute power, in part, back to the people is to take the AUX and to lead in producing the night’s music from a grassroots perspective. With the power established, phone plugged in, it’s time to take your next steps as a leader to ensure the enjoyed success of your DJ identity. Find a playlist with hits, or search and queue a bundle of jams to blast to the entire gathering. Whatever your mode of preparing music is, be sure to do so with your experience as a consumer in mind. Ask your friends what they want to hear, and make sure that they stay involved with the songs to come. With as many people involved as possible, the bops are sure to make a positive impact on your community, boost the vibes, and uplift the night.
12. Rejoice! In! Fellowship!
You, my dear, Have done it. Holy cow, what a wild ride it’s been. Be proud of yourself. Take a deep breath, look around, and scream those Jonas Brothers lyrics like it’s the only reason you were born. You’re here, you’re present, and you’ve saved the night. My hero, I’m so proud of you.
Ta-da! By using an easy to use 12 step method, you too can take any depressing and oppressive AUX cord and turn her into a tune-chucking banger ribbon. A bop wire. A hope rope. Integrate yourself into social interactions. Communicate with others, and make yourself proud. In support of Britney Spears, Jordin Sparks, and the Jonas Brothers. Take that AUX. Don’t let them play “Dixieland Delight.” Don’t let them ruin their own evening. Take control of your night. Command your space. Lead with conviction, kindness, and a good taste in music. Claim the power back to the ears of you and your peers. Vote in your next election.