Bon Iver’s Justin Vernon joined Marijuana Deathsquads on Thursday night to live score a series of films made in the 1920s by Dadaists Hans Richter, Viking Eggeling, and Reneé Clair. Performed at the Walker Arts Center’s “Sounds For Silence” event in Minneapolis, Vernon and company delivered an inspiring performance that worked well with its visual counterparts.
Before the performance, Vernon shared footage of his rehearsal before the show with the audience. The rehearsal featured Vernon along with the Marijuana Deathsquads lineup of Ryan Olson (Poliça, Gayngs), Benson Ramsey (The Pines), and Channy Leaneagh (Poliça). Vernon, who has also just announced plans to collaborate with the Minnesota based dance company, TU Dance, is clearly interested in extending his art across different platforms. Always an interested in search of himself, Vernon never does the same thing twice. It is an exciting thing to see him participating in different one-time events like these, as one can only hope it will inspire great things for Bon Iver’s next album, something that can top their last incredible record, 22, A Million.
The TU Dance show with Vernon will be a three-night event in April 2018. The performance, choreographed by Uri Sands, will be hosted by the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra as part of their Liquid Music Series. The dance performance will also feature new music of Vernon’s.
A live score is no easy task. Musicians must keep in time with the direction and pace of the footage. Generally performances such as these are prewritten and rehearsed, as we know Vernon and the Marijuana Deathsquads’ was, but not always. In fact the random attitude of Dadaism might have been better suited to an improvised score. However, the pace of Vernon’s music felt right in the moment with the jittery nature of the footage.