Posted in music | pictures on August 10, 2011

words by Rachel Kowal, photos by Jessica Amaya

Bon Iver

Back in June, The Awl compiled a long list of the adjectives (and a few adverbs) used by music journalists to describe the new self-titled Bon Iver album. Perhaps unsurprisingly, many of the words chosen seemed more apt for describing a coat or a lumberjack than music: plaid-clad, wintry, warm, pretty, layered, rustic, wooly, enveloping. It was an Onion article waiting to be written. (Oh wait, that kind of already happened.)

When the origin story of an artist is as pronounced as Vernon's was with his debut, For Emma, Forever Ago, figuring out the next step can be challenging--especially when the reception was so warm the first time around. Would Vernon continue in a similar vein or break free from the web of adjectives that had carefully been sculpted by publicists and journalists? Even after The Blood Bank EP came out, the question loomed.

Vernon may not have shaved the beard, but judging from last night's show at the United Palace Theatre and the far-flung locales of the song titles on the new album, he has ventured out of that cabin in the Wisconsin woods. Though his music still has a hushed, intimate air about it, it is definitely no longer the work of one man.

But before Vernon and his band assumed their positions, The Rosebuds came out to showcase a handful of songs from their recent release on Merge, Loud Planes Fly Low, in addition to a few old favorites (like "Leaves Do Fall" and "Boxcar" from 2005's Birds Make Good Neighbors). Laced with boisterous choruses, pleasant duets, and anthemic guitar riffs, their set was lively, if not a bit out of place.

After a lengthy set-up (or maybe it just felt like forever), Bon Iver kicked off their set with "Perth," the opening track on the new album. Nine white spotlights cut through the darkness on stage, casting magnified shadows of each of the nine men against the backdrop. But it wasn't long before the lights began to flash rapidly and the colors came streaming in, as if to mirror the unfolding intensity of the song.

Here, of course we have the same earnest falsetto and mysterious lyrics. But the sound is boisterous and the tone, hopeful. I don't think it's an accident that Bon Iver came out, not during the cold, dark months of winter like its predecessors (including the Blood Bank EP), but on the first official day of summer, long after all the residual ice had melted. The hefty brass section (trumpet, trombone, bass sax, French horn), and the crashing percussion quickly revealed that this would be no sleeper of a set.

Justin Vernon and his talented cast of musicians (which included Colin Stetson, Rob Moose, Sean Carey, and others) played through the first four songs of the album before switching it up a bit with some cuts from Blood Bank and a cover by Björk ("Who Is It") to help mix things up. The older songs came later, including a beautiful solo rendition of "Re: Stacks.".

Between songs, Vernon addressed the crowd warmly, though not often. He didn't have to. Old and new songs alike brought thunderous applause from the undiscriminating crowd.

After wrapping up the initial leg of the set with "For Emma," Vernon and the band returned for a gorgeous three-song encore. Before launching into "Wolves," Vernon stopped to give a pep talk. This would be more than your typical sing-a-long. "When we come back on that down beat, that's when you have to just start screaming. Just no more singing words, no more thinking thoughts [...] You just start screaming," he instructed the audience.

After the mad fervor of "Wolves" died away, Vernon finished with a stripped down version of "Skinny Love" that included just a single guitar and percussion, leaving the remaining musicians to leave their instruments behind and gather around a couple of microphones to sing backing vocals. Then after a generous standing ovation, they were gone.

If you missed last night's show, you can check out the band tonight at Prospect Park's Celebrate Brooklyn or stream last week's gorgeous show at the 9:30 Club, courtesy of NPR Music.

The full setlist, a video of the Bjork cover from the Boston show, and more picures from NYC, below...

The Rosebuds

The Rosebuds

The Rosebuds

The Rosebuds

The Rosebuds

The Rosebuds

The Rosebuds

The Rosebuds

The Rosebuds

The Rosebuds

The Rosebuds

The Rosebuds

The Rosebuds

The Rosebuds

The Rosebuds

The Rosebuds

The Rosebuds

The Rosebuds

The Rosebuds

Bon Iver

Bon Iver

Bon Iver

Bon Iver

Bon Iver

Bon Iver

Bon Iver

Bon Iver

Bon Iver

Bon Iver

Bon Iver

Bon Iver

Bon Iver

Bon Iver

Bon Iver

Bon Iver

Bon Iver

Bon Iver

Bon Iver

Bon Iver - covering Bjork Who Is It @ HOB Boston


Bon Iver Set list
Perth
Minnesota, WI
Holocene
Towers
Beach Baby
Hinnom, TX
Wash.
Blood Bank
Who Is It (Björk cover)
Michicant
Re: Stacks
Flume
Calgary
For Emma

Encore
Beth/Rest
Wolves (Act I and II)
Skinny Love
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Comments (42)

I cannot WAIT for tonight at Prospect Park!

Posted by Anonymous | August 10, 2011 1:51 PM

rooobbbb mmooosseeee, your violin solo made me melt.

Posted by Anonymous | August 10, 2011 1:53 PM

Set times tonight?
EXCITED.

Posted by Anonymous | August 10, 2011 1:54 PM

SOLD OUT!

Posted by Anonymous | August 10, 2011 1:57 PM

DONT CARE

Posted by Anonymous | August 10, 2011 1:59 PM

Get cheap tickets on craigslist. I'm excited for the show.

Posted by Andrea | August 10, 2011 1:59 PM

wonder if Kanye is gonna make a cameo with backing vocals on Holocene. Oh yeah, that's right ... Kanye don't like white people.

Posted by Anonymous | August 10, 2011 2:01 PM

talked with someone last night and they said rosebuds on at 7:30.

Posted by Anonymous | August 10, 2011 2:08 PM

it is a nice take on the song, but prefer the original

Posted by Anonymous | August 10, 2011 2:08 PM

Neck Beard!

Posted by Anonymous | August 10, 2011 2:10 PM

the rosebuds are playing my office right now
they are pretty good

Posted by Anonymous | August 10, 2011 2:15 PM

Noel Gallagher > Bon Iver

Posted by Anonymous | August 10, 2011 2:16 PM

The album isn't self-titled. It's called "Bon Iver, Bon Iver" a reference to a geographic location, like all of the song titles on the album.

Posted by Anonymous | August 10, 2011 2:29 PM

saw him at sound fix and glasslands couple years ago....

can't believe he's this popular now.

Posted by Anonymous | August 10, 2011 2:33 PM

Wasn't sure if he would be able to pull off a 9 piece band in a massive theatre but the show last night was fucking awesome. Everything sounded so good and the crowd was respectful too.

Posted by Anonymous | August 10, 2011 2:39 PM

insufferable.

Posted by Anonymous | August 10, 2011 2:59 PM

Wonderful show last night. I enjoyed every minute of Bon Iver's set, and was quite impressed with the band and their lovely waves of sound.

Posted by Jeremy | August 10, 2011 3:10 PM

Rosebud...


Full of country goodness and green peaness.

Posted by Anonymous | August 10, 2011 3:26 PM

The Rosebuds went on promptly at 8. However, I think the Bandshell has a curfew and they might take the stage earlier than last night. I really enjoyed The Rosebuds set. I went as much for them as I did for Bon Iver. The Rosebuds played a good selection of their songs, but I hope that they return to NYC for a headlining gig. I really want to hear more from their prior album "Life Like." One complaint about The Rosebuds set from last night was that the mix could have been better (too much bass.)

Bon Iver sounded amazing. The sound was perfect. He has some excellent musicians in his band. I was really blown away by the set. Anyone who can score a ticket to tonight's set should go.

Posted by Dan | August 10, 2011 3:41 PM

I think I saw the dudes from Bear in Heaven furiously beating it once Bon Iver took the stage.

Posted by Anonymous | August 10, 2011 4:14 PM

where's the merch table photo?

Posted by Anonymous | August 10, 2011 5:15 PM

"...Bear in Heaven furiously beating it..."

Masturbating Bear, anyone?

Posted by Anonymous | August 10, 2011 5:19 PM

8=====D~'~,~'~,~

Posted by Anonymous | August 10, 2011 5:25 PM

my guess is Bon Iver by 845 at the latest, but probably 830.

Posted by Anonymous | August 10, 2011 5:38 PM

2 things

1) There is a 10:30pm curfew at Prospect Park. Expect Rosebuds on at 7:30SHARP, Bon Iver 8:45pm

2) Rosebuds, headlining tour in the Fall.

Posted by Merge | August 10, 2011 5:52 PM

^^
is this set time info dependable??

Posted by Anonymous | August 10, 2011 6:03 PM

was Kanye there?

Posted by Anonymous | August 10, 2011 6:18 PM

waiting in line to get in so crowded already soudchek sounded amazing...

Posted by Anonymous | August 10, 2011 6:24 PM

4:14, that was Questlove "furiously beating it."

Posted by Special Environment | August 10, 2011 6:27 PM

so glad i saw justin and his fellas in a venue with acoustics.

Posted by Anonymous | August 10, 2011 7:47 PM

7:47 -

we are really glad you did not have to bridge and tunnel it to attend a great show at a beautiful venue uptown. great acoustics, too

please continue to hang out in queens, brooklyn or jersey

Posted by Anonymous | August 11, 2011 7:21 AM

7:21 makes no sense at all. but the use of the term "bridge and tunnel" earns him a bitch-slap with a dead fish. SLAP!

Posted by Anonymous | August 11, 2011 7:51 AM

i found last night's show kind of underwhelming compared to earlier shows of his, def confirmed that i'm not really feeling the new album very much. he played the atrocity 'beth/rest,' which is beyond comprehension. overall, great night in the park and it was enjoyable, but i should have gone to band of horses...

Posted by Anonymous | August 11, 2011 8:47 AM

Prospect park > United Palace

Posted by Anonymous | August 11, 2011 9:28 AM

No way. United Palace is great (and look even better). But I know typical BVers preferences are:

Brooklyn venue > Manhattan venue

Posted by Anonymous | August 11, 2011 9:51 AM

justin mentioned last night that the show was the largest headline gig they'd ever played. pretty cool.

Posted by Anonymous | August 11, 2011 9:58 AM

i didn't need you to tell me that the crowd was "undiscriminating"

Posted by Anonymous | August 11, 2011 10:39 AM

justin's solo version of re:stacks was the highlight for me last night

Posted by Anonymous | August 11, 2011 11:04 AM

His band is so tight. Harmonies were spot on, his bjork cover was incredible. Epic drum fills, beautiful lights, just a completely fantastic show in the park.

Posted by Anonymous | August 11, 2011 11:14 AM

How do people reconcile the acclaim for his sensitive manchild ballads with his cowriting credits on stuff like "That's My Bitch?"

Posted by Anonymous | August 11, 2011 1:44 PM

Can you email me with some pointers on how you made your site look this awesome, I would appreciate it.

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