Sunday School rock
If you don’t like The Daredevil Christopher Wright, it’s probably because you haven’t heard them.
At least that’s the theory of sophomore Daniel Putman, a fan who has seen Daredevil live eight times in the past year.
“Everybody who has heard them has said, ‘Yeah, this is really good,’” Putman said, adding it’s the band’s unique sound and personalities that make them so likeable.
“They can’t help but be weird,” he said. “There are a lot of bands who can’t help but be ordinary bands or who try to be weird. They are just strange, but good, and that’s attractive in their music.”
Daredevil’s Jesse Edgington and brothers Jason and Jon Sunde return to Eau Claire, their “musical home,” on Saturday for a 7 p.m. show at the Grand Little Theatre, 102 W. Grand Ave. Sunday, they are playing in Minneapolis at The Kitty Cat Klub, 315 14th Ave., with former Eau Clairians We Are the Willows and Laarks.
Grand Little Theatre is where sophomore Matt Wagner first fell in love with Daredevil last spring, even though he had been tempted to drive home to Winona on the day of the show and skip the cover charge.
“I decided to stay in town, and it was probably one of the greatest live shows I’ve ever seen,” Wagner said. “It gave me faith in live shows again.”
Pouring out what’s inside
Daredevil’s juxtaposition of serious lyrics about death, illness and loss with catchy and uplifting beats is what sets it apart from other bands, Putman and Wagner said.
That power of finding joy in tragedy is something that most people can relate to, bassist Jason Sunde said.
“It’s interesting when you put serious subjects in that way,” Sunde said. “It just helps us shed some light on things. You can get absorbed in just one way of thinking, but when you cross things over like that, maybe it speaks more to the whole experience of life.”
But it’s not just highly personal lyrics that grab fans by the heart. Peter Miller of We Are the Willows said it’s also the pure musical skill and experimentation. Even though the music is catchy, it diverges from standard pop music in its lack of formula, he said.
“When you’re going through the song, you sort of have to hang on at every second to know what’s going to happen next,” Miller said. “Their songs sort of take on this stream of consciousness. I really appreciate that about their music – a lot.”
Daredevil is also known for experimenting with new instruments – sometimes with a toy piano, sometimes with a recorder straight out of fourth-grade music class.
“We like throwing in different sounds, so that’s one of the things we just had lying around the house, so it makes sense to pick it up,” Sunde said. “I’ve been toying around with my dad’s harmonica, even though I have no idea how to play that.”
Faith and rocks and slings and things
Many of Daredevil’s songs have religious undertones, especially in reference to the story of David and Goliath in “A Conversation About Cancer.”
While Sunde said they don’t try to tell people what to believe, their lyrics are undeniably influenced by Christianity, especially how it relates to their understanding of life.
“I love it when people who aren’t very religious can really enjoy the music, because that’s what we intend – to make music,” Sunde said. “I would say we’re a band, and some of us happen to be Christian. You write about what you know.”
Miller said that because many of those values are universal, it doesn’t take away from his enjoyment of the music.
“One of the great things about listening to music is hearing about other people’s stories,” he said, “especially when they’re different from yours.”
Putman said religion never overshadows Daredevil’s music, but is simply a part of it.
“I usually don’t go for that, but the way they do it, it’s not preachy,” Putman said. “It’s just something that’s part of their lives. I think that’s appropriate.”
Growing up to be Christopher Wright
The Daredevil Christopher Wright is one of many bands in the Chippewa Valley that are enjoying a surge in popularity.
“It’s cool the attention Bon Iver is bringing to Eau Claire for anyone making music in Eau Claire,” Sunde said. “(The) excitement has given more people incentive to really work at music, which is pretty exciting.”
Bon Iver’s Justin Vernon mixed all but two songs on Daredevil’s first full-length album In Deference to a Broken Back.
After two shows this weekend, Daredevil takes its tour east before returning to the Midwest at the end of February. Then they’ll take In Deference to the south for most of March.
March will also see the European release of In Deference, followed by the launch of a European tour this summer.
Daredevil has been working on new material lately, some of which they’ve already introduced on stage, in preparation for the next album.
“We’re just kind of waiting for an album’s worth of material to coalesce, and then we’ll decide when we record it,” Sunde said. “Jon’s written a ton of songs, and we’ve just been playing with different arrangements, trying to do it just right. . It’s still totally nebulous, but hopefully we’ll come up with something sooner than later.”
Teaching them how to dance (What to expect on Saturday)
Daredevil’s stage presence is contagiously energetic, especially how the group “incorporate(s) the crowd as a fourth person of the band,” Wagner said.
It’s not uncommon to see “crazy dancing” from the audience, and Daredevil often leads the crowd in chanting or clapping.
“They’re one of the funnest bands to see live, that’s for sure,” Miller said. “They’re extremely engaging, and you can tell they’re having a really great time playing tunes. I always love seeing that.”
Sunde said fans can expect to hear songs from In Deference, most likely in new arrangements, plus some new material – maybe three or four songs that could end up on the next album.
“They have so many songs that every time you see them,” Wagner said, “you’ll hear a song you haven’t heard before, and you’ll probably like it.”
But then again, Wagner said he has yet to hear a Daredevil song he hasn’t liked.
If nothing else, Daredevil fans are hoping for one thing this weekend: that it’s going to be completely chaotic.
Grand Little Theatre
102 W. Grand Ave.
7 p.m., $5 at door
The Kitty Cat Klub
315 14th. Ave., Minneapolis, MN
7 p.m., No cover