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Home Local The Bon Iver effect: Is Wisconsin the new Brooklyn?

The Bon Iver effect: Is Wisconsin the new Brooklyn?

Who is the real Justin Vernon?

Have you heard the one about Bonnie Bear? The garbled interpretation that became the butt of many post-Grammy jokes about Justin Vernon and Bon Iver’s lack of name recognition from the masses.

Winning two Grammys certainly has strange repercussions. Justin Timberlake’s Saturday Night Live impersonation of a rumpled Justin Vernon falling asleep while singing one of his own songs to Beyonce and Jay-Z’s new baby is hipster satire at its best.

With all the tongue-in cheek Bon Iver humor saturating the media, one has to wonder how the band is taking it personally. On the other hand, the indie-folk troubadours are blazing a trail for Midwestern indie credentials that put the focus squarely on Wisconsin. 

Even Spin Magazine has christened Wisconsin the next indie hot spot, “Chillwave's next hot spot is in flyover country: Madison, Wisconsin,” says Spin in describing their love for Peaking Lights’ “936” album.

Wisconsin indie artists (partial list):

Bon Iver                                    Kings Go Forth
Zola Jesus                                Jaill 
Peaking Lights                          Sat. Nite Duets
S. Carey                                    Volcano Choir
Julian Lynch                              Dead Luke
All Tiny Creatures                     Slow Loris
Yellow Ostrich                          Cory Chisel
Daredevil Christoper Wright     Man Mantis

The leader of course is Justin Vernon of Bon Iver.

The defiant Justin Vernon, who attended the Grammys for his parents and refused to perform a scripted collaboration as dictated by show producers, struck a nerve with the eclectic nonconformist indie crowd. Somehow we couldn’t picture a bearded Justin Vernon gyrating with Rhianna or Katie Perry in a glee-like spectacle anyway. And after seeing Maroon 5 and Foster the People’s luke-warm tribute to the Beach Boys can you blame Justin for sitting this one out?

Justin Vernon is a genuine regular guy who represents the Wisconsin indie ethic well. Suspicious of the music industry, but willing to listen to opposing views, he doesn’t appear to be jaded by the meteoric rise of Bon Iver. Did he jump at the chance to sign with a major label after all his success? No, Justin stuck with indie label Jagjaguar. Does he buy into the idea of an indie artist as a celebrity? Not really, but the recent surge of media exposure has got to have him wondering.

In the connected age of the Internet, you really don’t need to be on either coast to spread the word about your music digitally. An organic buzz can be started just as easily from Wisconsin as New York or Los Angeles, and the rent is a lot cheaper! Besides, any place that has Spotted Cow beer on tap across the state has to be on the short list for residency. Watch for the Bon Iver effect to raise the profile of many deserving Wisconsin indie bands. Wisconsin is the new Brooklyn!  


Rock of the Arts

Club Crawl

Punch  Brothers
w/ Gabriel Kahane
Overture Hall
Tue, Dec. 1

Frank Turner 
& The Sleeping Souls
w/ Chef's Special,
Mascot Theory
Majestic Theatre
Tue, Dec. 1

Best Coast
w/ Cloakroom
Turner Hall (Milw)
Wed, Dec. 2

Richard Thompson
Eclectric Trio
Barrymore Theatre
Fri, Dec. 4

Beat Connection
w/ Phantoms,
Midas Bison
The Frequency
Fri, Dec. 4

w/ Mixed Blood Majority,
Bleubird, Lucien Parker
Barrymore Theatre
Sat, Dec. 5

Joe Pug
WI Union Theater
Frederic March Play Circle
Sun, Dec. 6 (8pm)

Vince Staples
w/ CRASHprez
Lord of the Fly
Union South - The Sett
Fri, Dec. 11 (Ticketed Event)

Joey's Song Benefit:
Know-it-All Boyfriends
(feat. Butch Vig)
w/ Cory Chisel,
Freedy Johnston,
Sammy Llanas,
Kelly Hogan,
David Schelzel
Stop the Clock,
Modern Mod
Barrymore Theater
Fri, Dec. 11

w/ PHOX,
Anna Vogelzang,
Love High, Faux Fawn,
Corey Mathew Hart,
Crane Your Swan Neck
Barrymore Theatre
Sat, Dec. 12

w/ Atlas Sound
Majestic Theatre
Tue, Dec. 15

Joanna Newsom
w/ Alela Diane & Ryan Francesconi
Orpheum Theater
Fri, Dec. 18

w/ Damsel Trash,
Joey Broyles
The Frequency
Sat, Dec. 19

Golden Donna,
Samantha Glass,
Lens, Noxroy,
TV Dinner DJs
High Noon Saloon
Thu, Jan. 7

Wisconsin HIP-HOP Fest
w/ Ishdarr, F. Stokes,
Milo, Crashprez,
Fringe Character,
Lord of the Fly,
Sincere Life
Majestic Theater
Thu, Jan. 7

Rare Plant Showcase
w/ Proud Parents,
Dumb Vision,
Wood Chickens,
Cave Curse,
The Minotaurs,
and DJ Stamp Collector
High Noon Saloon
Fri, Jan. 8 9PM | 18+ | $5

Wisconsin Folk Fest
w/ Cory Chisel,
We Are The Willows,
JE Sunde,
Christopher Gold,
Rachel Hanson
Majestic Theater
Fri, Jan. 8

Eternal Summers,
American Wrestlers
High Noon Saloon
Thur, Jan. 14

Wisconsin Pop Fest
The Living Statues,
Oh My Love,
Modern Mod,
Majestic Theater
Thu, Jan. 14

Wisconsin Punk Fest
w/ Tenement, The Hussy,
Zebras, The Moguls,
The American Dead
Majestic Theater
Fri, Jan. 15
All Them Witches,
Mild High Club,
High Noon Saloon
Fri, Jan. 15
John Mark Nelson,
Charly Bliss,
Julien Baker
High Noon Saloon
Sat, Jan. 16 

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