Pay attention to the men behind the curtain!

Story by Taylor Kuether

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The Backstage Concert Series, started by Volume One magazine and in its second year running, gives the audience a backstage pass for the whole night. For just $10, it’s a fun, accessible concert in an otherwise pricey and exclusive venue.

The concert series is the brainchild of Volume One’s editor in chief, Nick Meyers, and State Theatre executive director Ben Richgruber. “We wanted a way to get a new and different crowd into the theater,” Meyers said. “We realized how amazing it would be to bring in people and put them right on the stage with the bands, in this very cool old brick environment of the very old theater.”

There were seven concerts in the series last year and five this year, and the duo hopes to keep Backstage going.

“We had a blast, we’re excited to do it again,” Richgruber said. “We always try to make it unique and exciting. Last year we did some video work and we keep playing with that, and maybe get some audio recordings of some different things.”

As for the lineup, the bands come from all ends of the spectrum, but must have one thing in common: they’re all local and all original.

“We try to keep a variety throughout the year,” Richgruber said, “We go from bluegrass to heavy metal, so it’s really up for grabs.”

The venue itself provides a bit of the draw, as well as the all-ages admittance.

“It’s such a unique area and people don’t usually get to hang out back there, so people coming in for the first time realize, ‘We’re standing on the stage,’” Richgruber said.

“We hope to continue growing audiences and provide a unique concert experience you can’t get anywhere else in town,” Meyer added. “It’s the only place where anyone of any age can come, yet people 21-plus can still enjoy a beer or wine with the show.”

This week’s show features Laarks and Zoo Animal, and Laarks’ lead singer and keyboardist Ian Jacoby says the band is excited to play. “They (Meyer and Richgruber) asked us who we wanted to play with, and we immediately said Zoo Animal,” Jacoby said, “We’re really excited to be the first group to play with them in Eau Claire.”

Jacoby’s favorite part of the Backstage series is the all-ages aspect. “I think it’s a great idea. I remember growing up in Eau Claire and being ticked that I couldn’t get into DeYarmond Edison or Amateur Love shows,” Jacoby said.  “I just wanted to get into the shows, and the only way to do it was to play them.”

Laarks, with their upbeat, indie-electronica sound, consists of Ian Jacoby, Kyle Flater, Brian Moen, and Zach Hanson. The band has met with success as of late, signing with Absolutely Kosher, an Oakland, Ca., record label, and going on a national tour.

“Accomplishments are hard to talk about,” Jacoby joked. “In all seriousness, I think every EauClaire band should feel like they have accomplished an awful lot in the last three to five years. Look at all the quality that has come from here!”

The Backstage Concert Series provides an inexpensive outlet for all-ages to enjoy local music in a cool setting. With all of Eau Claire’s up-and-coming bands (Jacoby mentions The Gentle Guest and Wisconsin Built, to name a few), the concert series should have enough bands in stock to run for years to come.

In Jacoby’s words, “It’s exciting to love music in Eau Claire.”

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