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Bon Iver member performs in Northfield


There were blue and purple stage lights illuminating the stage. A strong crowd of 100 people was clustered toward the front of the Lion’s Pause stage. Sean Carey and his four-person band quietly built energy up as the fans swayed back and forth to his tranquil music. The S. Carey concert made for a relaxing night in the Pause on Sunday, Oct. 5.

MEC and KSTO served as joint hosts for the S. Carey concert. St. Olaf is just one of the stops in S. Carey’s tour promoting his new album Range of Light. This tour has taken him from New York, to his home state Wisconsin, with several venues and college campuses in between. Next stop: Carleton.

Many people are more familiar with S. Carey’s involvement in two-time Grammy-winning band Bon Iver, formed within the very distinct musical culture of Eau Claire, Wis. S. Carey’s music has many similar traits to the Justin Vernon project, including musical build-ups, synthesizers and falsetto. In contrast with Vernon’s rustic-acoustic vibe, S. Carey describes his music as “jazz, modern classical and Americana.”

Josh, from the Minneapolis-based band Aero Flynn, opened for S. Carey and a night of serene musicality. According to S. Carey, Josh is one of the band’s favorite songwriters. He warmed up the crowd with a soft acoustic solo set and conversation about his dog, which he even tried to give away to an audience member at one point. His humor and music set the scene well for the night.

After Josh played, S. Carey and his band set up on stage in a half-circle, incredibly intimate and reflective of the strong connection that the musicians had with each other. Bass, keys, electric guitar, pedal steel and drums created the musicians’ careful sound. S. Carey himself alternated between keyboard and drums, keeping the audience intrigued and energized.

The merchandise table had his two full albums and EP on vinyl and CD. His T-shirt designs were striking with imagery that mimicked the mountain ranges on his new album cover. The most popular item was the costume prints of his tour, featuring a seven-color screenprinted poster with a trout on it. Only 90 of these limited edition S. Carey 2014 Fall Tour posters have been printed so far, one of which will hang in the KSTO studio with S. Carey’s signature.

After the concert, the band took all but 45 minutes to pack up its gear. Members of KSTO stayed behind to help out with moving equipment.

There was polite banter that went on between the two groups. KSTO members watched as the band members skillfully played a game of Jenga to fit all of their gear into the back of their tour bus. At one point band members asked what St. Olaf was a saint of, the answer to which no one knew. One student said he was rumored to have been the saint of broken marriages, but since no one at the time could confirm the validity of that statement it is still a rumor. Nonetheless it got a very good laugh out of the band. The smell of Pause pizza wafted outside toward the tour bus, and another band member joked that maybe St. Olaf was the Saint of Pizza.

Right before they left, S. Carey members asked KSTO members what there was to do in Northfield, to which many replied “Cows, Colleges and Contentment.” Another round of laughter filled the air before the band decided to leave and relax at the Contented Cow after a successful show.