The official student newspaper of University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire since 1923.

The Spectator

The official student newspaper of University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire since 1923.

The Spectator

The official student newspaper of University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire since 1923.

The Spectator

The Spectator’s Super Ultimate Guide to the Eau Claire indie music scene


I have always felt out of the loop when it comes to local music. Not only are there dozens of bands and hundreds of musicians, many of them are interconnected through members, shows, producers or all of the above.

In an attempt to get educated, I challenged two of our Spectator staffers (who also happen to be members of the local music scene) to visually represent how our Eau Claire indie bands are related.

The process was enlightening for a variety of reasons. First, I learned that there’s a good reason why the indie scene is so bewildering: it is downright incestuous.

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The guide creators, Thom and Eric, made several attempts to organize the information while still making it easy to read and decipher, but with no luck. The collaboration is that overwhelming.

Second, I now fully appreciate the wealth of musical talent in this city. To prevent this chart from complete overload, Thom and Eric had to limit their scope and focus on the bands most embedded in the indie scene. If you want to see the hard rock guide, visit

So whether you’re a stranger to the scene or a long-time veteran, we hope you’ll enjoy perusing this musical maze of a guide.

– Danielle Ryan, Currents editor



Here are a few bios of notable local indie groups to help you get even more informed.


Bon Iver
Arguably the biggest thing about Eau Claire since the logging industry, UW-Eau Claire alumus Justin Vernon created this folk/alternative group in 2007 after the breakup of DeYarmond Edison, a breakup with his girlfriend, a brief fight with mono and stealing away to record nine spare, folk songs in a cabin in Northern Wisconsin.

Joined live by Fine’s Mike Noyce, Sean Carey and Matthew McCaughan, Bon Iver’s 2008 album released by Jagjaguwar records For Emma, Forever Ago has received critical praise from many national publications.

Bon Iver paved the way for many other Eau Claire groups such as Daredevil Christopher Wright and Laarks to receive attention on a national level. – EC

The Daredevil Christopher Wright
The Daredevil Christopher Wright is not one person, but three. Made up of brothers Jon and Jason Sunde and their friend Jesse Edgington, Daredevil’s precise instrumentation, tight three-part harmonies and wacky compositions make them a spectacle to listen to and see live.

Their chamber pop songs are fun and witty, but also deal with heavy subjects like cancer, death, separation and literature. Their debut album, In Deference to a Broken Back (inspired by a real back injury of Jason Sunde), was mixed by Justin Vernon, and the band frequently toured and played with fellow Eau Claire darlings, Laarks. – EC

Formed in 2006, Laarks is Eau Claire grad Ian Jacoby, Zach Hanson (of The Gentle Guest and S. Carey), Kyle Flater and local jack-of-all-trades Brian Moen (of Peter Wolf Crier, The Shouting Matches, Amateur Love). The indie-rock gems are hard-hitting, loud and catchy.

Their self-released debut, An Exaltation of Laarks received praise on a local scale, but when the group signed with Absolutely Kosher Records out of San Francisco in 2009, the band received recognition nationally. Using mostly vintage equipment, Laarks’ sound is some of the most powerful on this or that side of the Chippewa. – EC

Farms, which began in Hudson, Wis., has held their place as the forefront of the noise-pop basement scene in Eau Claire for the last few years. The duo, consisting of Ben Larson (Merlin Monroe) and Andy Todryk (Vacation Dad) has seen its fair share of national attention and has toured relentlessly to both coasts in recent years.

Known for their short, ear-splitting displays of pure energy, Farms has cemented themselves as one of the most impressive bands to see live. The group has encouraged a community of ‘Farms-house’ bands, including their own side projects, Moro and other groups from the Minneapolis and Milwaukee area that frequent Eau Claire. – TF

When DeYarmond Edison dissolved in Raleigh, N.C. in 2007 and Justin Vernon moved back to Wisconsin, the remaining members formed Megafaun and found plenty of success on their own. Eau Claire natives Phil Cook, Brad Cook and Joe Westerlund have since released two EPs and a full-length record of their folk compositions.

Since their formation, Megafaun has garnered some high praise nationally and have signed to Portland’s Hometapes Collective. The group has been known to play in Eau Claire still on the rare occasion and are currently working on their second full-length record at Vernon’s studio. – TF


Adelyn Rose
Adelyn Strei started playing shows earlier this year, balancing her duties as percussionist in Feathe, but since she’s turned her focus to Adelyn Rose (which also includes her brother Leo and jack-of-all-trades Paul Brandt), Strei has started receiving national attention. Just last month Adelyn Rose released their first recordings, a three track EP, and the group’s songs bounced around the blogosphere receiving favorable praise from national blogs such as YVYNYL and OneThirtyBPM.

Adelyn Rose’s music is about as soft as can be, with beautiful ethereal melodies over simple instrumentation. They are often compared to Eau Claire predecessor Bon Iver and nationally acclaimed folkster Iron & Wine. – TF

Peter Wolf Crier
After the breakup of The Wars of 1812, the band’s frontman and De Pere native, Peter Pisano and Laarks-er Brian Moen came together to create Peter Wolf Crier. The duo’s sharp, punchy, acoustic songs were thrown together in one night by Pisano and brought to Moen a few later. The songs were then recorded and engineered by Moen into a full-length called Inter-Be released in 2009.

The band is signed to Jagjaguwar Records out of Bloomington, Ind., the same national label as Bon Iver, GAYNGS and S. Carey. “Inter-Be” has seen national praise from Pitchfork Media, Paste Magazine and other publications and the band has toured feverishly. These up-and-comers could be huge – just wait. – EC


Amateur Love
Starting in 2005, Amateur Love ruled the young Eau Claire music scene with their own brand of upbeat electro-rock. Often sharing the stage and sharing members (Phil and Brad Cook) with DeYarmond Edison, the band was known for their energetic live performances. The four-piece was held together by Brian Moen’s impressive percussion.

Although Amateur Love never received much attention outside of Eau Claire, they were impressively influential on the Eau Claire scene today. Laarks (who Moen went on to drum for) shares a similar style and Brad and Phil Cook went on to form Megafaun. – TF

Laughing Bell
Starting out as Elliston, the members of Laughing Bell released only one album, but moved on to become some of the most influential contributors of the Eau Claire music scene.

Kyle Frenette went on to form Overred and founded Amble Down Records and Management, which manages Bon Iver and the many side-projects as well as many popular Eau Claire bands. Eric Rykal formed The Gentle Guest, who have released two popular albums in the last three years. Zach Hanson has become one of the busiest musicians in Eau Claire, playing with The Gentle Guest, Laarks and filling in as the drummer for We Are the Willows and S. Carey, as well as producing and mixing various records. – TF

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The Spectator’s Super Ultimate Guide to the Eau Claire indie music scene