Sonic Diet

RSC TO NOW: Collections of Colonies of Bees

Words by Milan Zori, Erin Wolf and Ryan Schleicher

…From now through July we’re looking back at last year’s WMSE Radio Summer Camp to get you excited about this year’s festival as Dwellephant will be hazily recollecting his live music festival experiences. We’ll also have some guest writers and interviewers because, after all, Dwelly is only one man and was unable to attend every minute of every show. And he was probably drunk at some point during the fest so trusting his memory might not always be wise. Enjoy this series!…


I decided not to sign up to volunteer at any of Radio Summer Camp’s Friday night shows, so I could take a few in as a spectator. This worked out in my favor. Not only did I catch a face-meltingly good set from John Paul Keith & the One Four Fives, but with a few well-timed texts to WMSE Ryan, I managed to make it to Cactus Club on time to see Collections of Colonies of Bees set– one of their last Milwaukee shows with founding member, drummer Jon Mueller.

The show opened with All Tiny Creatures, a band featuring the Bees’ own Thomas Wincek. I missed every single minute of this set, but turn it over to Sonic Diet’s Editor Erin Wolf to testify to its greatness:

(Erin: “YES. It was indeed great. All Tiny Creatures have two particular live elements that make them completely absorbing: melody and fluidity. They hook into some really nice sonic spots that listeners can ride out with the band for long periods of time, and Ben Derickson (drummer) is insanely pleasing to watch. He definitely fits the ‘machine’ type of percussionist, yet  plays with a sense of humor — he’s technical, but you can tell he’s completely comfortable up onstage; just doing his thing…

Jon Mueller

And in regards to Collections of Colonies of Bees, even if that was the first time that I’d seen Bees, I would’ve been able to tell that these guys were all really good friends by watching them play together. They’ve got a naturalness together onstage and pretty much are away and gone once they start playing, oblivious to everything/everyone else. I think they would’ve pretty much played the same way (with that same energy), even if it wasn’t one of their last shows together. That’s what made such an impression — that genuineness that comes from a band that has played for years collectively and still are completely into it…the word ‘collection’ in their name totally fits.”)…

Back to Milan…

Collections of Colonies of Bees set was fantastic. If memory serves me correctly, it consisted of two lengthy compositions, with a small break in between. There was barely room to move in the venue, but somehow, the same Erin Wolf who let me write this managed to find a way to pull me right to the front with her. Which was a fantastic decision, because it let me see every member completely lose themselves in their performance. And with it being Mueller’s next to last show with the band, I couldn’t help but focus on him. He played with such a focus and intensity, I’m pretty sure that “play” is too inadequate a word to describe what he does. I’m forever grateful I saw it. All of it.

Post-Summer Camp, the Bees rejoined Bon Iver‘s Justin Vernon as Volcano Choir for a small Japan Tour. But by Fall, both Wincek and Mueller had played their last shows with The Bees. Wincek departed to travel more with All Tiny Creatures, who will release the gorgeous Harbors on March 29th (Hometapes Records). Mueller has continued on, pursuing his own musical endeavors, including The Whole and Phase (with Jason Kahn). And The Bees themselves have a 2011 release on deck with Hometapes as well, titled Giving.

Mueller, Wincek and the rest of Collections of Colonies of Bees will reunite somewhat, to play in Milwaukee one last time as Volcano Choir on March 26th at Turner Hall. If you don’t have your tickets yet (shame on you), there are still some available here.

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This entry was published on March 9, 2011 at 5:55 pm. It’s filed under General and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Follow any comments here with the RSS feed for this post.

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