I had the great pleasure of seeing Bon Iver this week at the Trocadero in Chinatown. Apparently, Billy and I didn't read the fine print on the tickets requesting we wear our skinny jeans, lumberjack plaid and stocking cap. The opener for the night was The Tallest Man On Earth . We caught his last song, a cover of Jackson Brown's These Days, which was good. Probably would have been better had it fallen in the context of his entire set. But, I'd go see him if he passed through town again.
Bon Iver took the stage and opened with one of the tracks from their new EP Blood Bank. Despite it being a little more chamber folk than I usually like it was a good way to start the show. I was a little surprised to see how amped the band was but upon reflection, For Emma...Forever Ago was a solo effort (implying a good degree of tech support) so, with the addition of band members it seems only natural that the whole thing would be plugged in. It was well done too. The drums and bass were given the hollow weight from the album and live it was particularly powerful. The only time it was really apparent was on the new EP tracks which are aiming for an epic sound vs. the reflective somber mood of For Emma...
The version of Skinny Love they played introduced a degree of bass drum that made my heart twitterpate. I have an affinity for the warm vibrations of a bass line and Justin's assembled band delivered in spades. Again they emphasized the bass percussion in Re:Stacks in a way that made it a different tune entirely. There were only a few off notes of the evening mostly involving the newer stuff it seemed a little untethered and aimless but it took a few listens to For Emma... for me to adore it so, I'm willing to chalk that up to having not heard most of it before.
The only other issue I had with the show had nothing to do with the rperformers and EVERYTHING to do with the chick standing near us who had fucking bells attached to her shoes. Note to all of you concert goers out there: don't bring your own instruments to shows. She obviously thought it was cute that she was adding her own touch but not only did she jingle her bells at the worst possible times but SHE WAS ALWAYS OFF BEAT. Ugh. But I digress.
The fellas did a cover of the Outfield's Your Love which was an interesting choice but Justin's voice made it him own for sure. For The Wolves the crowd was encouraged to sing along at the end while it built to it's crescendo the howl/scream/yell when the tension broke. The space in the Troc made the crowd participation rather effective and the howl at the end reminded me a bit of the Midnight scream organized by my alma mater during finals.
The true gem of the night for me though was the closing of the show. When the album first came out I was intrigued simply because you seldom see Emma used. While sorry that the Emma in Justin's past cause such pain I am not too torn up cause this album was the product. Anyways, I was hoping to hear my track played live and not only did they play it but they finished the WHOLE SHOW with a little dedication to moi. The cherry on top was the country swing they gave to it making it clear that whatever it once meant Bon Iver has moved on to a much happier place. I look forward to hearing Blood Bank in its entirety next year and seeing Bon Iver when he returns to Philly.
Justin & Sarah Siskind Lovi'ns For Fools
Justin solo on piano For Emma...