Photography and review courtesy Joe Stadele for TWTHS. Photos may not be used without consent and credit. Published March 9th, 2016.
Wisconsin’s Driftless Area is a treasure trove beautiful hills and valleys, meandering creeks, small communities, farms and a place you can actually see the nighttime sky. In the thick of it you can find Viroqua, WI; the humble birthplace of Butch Vig and community Cloud Cult’s Craig and Connie Minowa, as well as multi-instrumentalist Shawn Neary call “home.” Over the course of the past decade, the town has reinvested in its community with a focus on boutiques, restaurants and the arts. Cloud Cult’s performance on Saturday night marked, what could be, a very exciting future for the newly renovated Historic Temple Theatre.
“It is quite lovely to live in a town of this size and have this kind of turnout. We are honored and humbled,” said lead man Minowa.
From the lullaby sing-a-longs “You Were Born” and “Transistor Radio” to intensity of “Blessings (Invocation Pt. 2),” Cloud Cult test drove the venue’s new sound system with a commitment to “get louder and louder.” Indeed they did. The band played two set, one acoustic and then electric and increasing expanded their sound. During the 45 minute acoustic portion of the evening, Cloud Cult performed a host of catalog favorites, plus “The Time Machine Invention” their brand new album, The Seeker. Vocal interludes were used to pull together songs like the banjo driven “Meet Me Where You’re Going” and “Ghost Inside Our House.”
Cloud Cult left everything on the stage during the electric set, which featured a host of songs off The Seeker; including “To The Great Unknown,” “Days To Remember,” “Everything You Thought You Had” and “Through the Ages” which built up to “Light Chasers’ anthem “There’s So Much Energy In Us.” Violist Shannon Frid-Rubin took a turn on lead vocals for the haunting “Car Crash.” The rarely performed “Hope” found a place in set. The set built towards a climax with the tribal rocker “Blessings (Invocation Pt. 2)” and sent the audience off with “Now Hell” and “You’ll Be Bright.” The show was so electric fans got out of their seats and danced near the stage and along the walls, leaving space only for the family sitting in the front row.
Late in the set, Craig and multi-instrumentalist Shawn Neary took a moment to recognize a special third grader in the audience. In support of Elliot Heller, the band was unified in black t-shirts which read “EL” on the front and “istandwithel.com” on the back. Heller was diagnosed with Synovial Sarcoma, a rare form of cancer. Neary took a moment to wish him well, ask for prayers and positive thoughts. A portion of the proceeds raised from Connie Minowa’s live painting [titled: Coming Home] was donated to Heller. If you would like to donate and learn more information about Elliot Heller.
Whether you know their music or not, it’s difficult to deny Cloud Cult’s vibrant live performance. The Temple Theatre performance wasn’t just a concert. It was a community event and major draw to Viroqua. “I feel like everyone in the community is here tonight,” said one of the men in attendance, “and if I don’t recognize them, they’re probably from Minneapolis or Madison!” I had to chuckle a bit as I have personally lived in both.
You Were Born
No One Said It Would Be Easy
Meet Me Where You’re Going
Ghost Inside Our House
Running With The Wolves
The Time Machine Invention
To The Great Unknown
The Story of the Grandson of Jesus
Days To Remember
All The Things We Couldn’t See
I Guess This Dream Is For Me
Everything You Thought You Had
Through The Ages
There’s So Much Energy In Us
Blessings (Invocation Pt. 2)
You’ll Be Bright