The Rosebuds opened the sold out Bon Iver show at the Chicago Theatre with a relaxing set of straightforward indie rock, kept afloat by their talented drummer. The mix had too much low frequency, making the keyboard and soft vocals of Ivan Howard and Kelly Crisp quieter than they should have been, but it was still evident that they are great vocalists. Howard's guitar had a vaguely gritty tone, giving it a darker vibe, and the band rocked for a brief, dynamic moment in the middle of the performance. The bassist picked up a violin for "Come Visit Me," starting with short, staccato bowing, increasing the length of the notes as the song went on. "Woods" was one of the more upbeat performances, with airy, yet defined keys. A series of tight drum fills built momentum before the song dropped off to only Howard and his guitar, and the band worked their way back up to finish the set.
The excited cheers of the sold-out crowd greeted the nine, extremely talented members of Bon Iver's live band as they took the stage. Justin Vernon began playing "Perth," and the two drum set players joined in, making it much more dynamic than the version on the new self-titled album. The French horn, trumpets, trombone, clarinet, and saxophones left even more of an impression, building textures for Vernon's strong, clear voice. "Perth" ended with the ambient noise from which "Minnesota, WI" emerged. The drums that subtly enter two and a half minutes into the recording were positively thunderous in the live setting, and the accompanying light show was as energetic and warm as the music.
The wind and brass musicians played "Hinnom, TX" with the soft beauty of a baroque composition. The backing vocalists' falsetto voices are as pleasant as Vernon's, who has become great at switching back and forth between that and his normal range. They played "Creature Fear," building directly into "Team," ending with the guitarists making ambient drones and crinkles over the pulsing drums. Vernon did a solo performance of "Re: Stacks" and the band returned for "Calgary." They followed with a cover of Bjork's "Who Is It", though Vernon decided he wasn't going to reveal what the song was, sarcastically adding, "That's how you become cool, you keep things from other people." The trombone/trumpet/percussion player [Reggie Pace] beat-boxed a careful and detailed recreation of the Bjork recording's beat along with acoustic drum accents on the bass and snare. Vernon instructed the crowd to sing along to "The Wolves (Act I and II)" beginning softly and building throughout each chorus. The lyrics were "What might have been lost," resulting in an emotional effect similar to the repeating choruses of Low's music.
"There's a cousin of the family of the band with a baby in her belly, and we're trying to get it out. Let's make it happen tonight," Vernon said before the encore performance of "Skinny Love" with the band standing behind him as backing vocalists and the drummers at their sets. He used an old hollow bodied guitar with cello-like f-holes on either side of the strings that had a distinct buzzy timbre. They closed with "For Beth/Rest," driven by the much talked about Bruce Hornsby-sounding, synthesized electric piano.
Bon Iver's setlist, more of Grant's / Josh's pictures, and some videos lie below..
The Rosebuds (by Josh)
Bon Iver (by Grant)
Bon Iver - Chicago Theatre 7/24 Setlist:
Who Is It (Bjork cover)
The Wolves (Act I and II)