Posts Tagged ‘pabst riverside

24
Jul
11

Bon Iver.

No witty titles for this blog folks, just straight up Bon Iver.

I made the sojourn to Milwaukee, Wisconsin for the Bon Iver show at the Pabst Riverside Theater, 7/23. There was a show that happened the previous night, but the 23rd was the original date that went onsale first for this tour. My friend Meghan and I both love Bon Iver, so we decided that our 1st Bon Iver experience would be together, in Wisconsin. She cracked under the pressure and went to the show on the 22nd, but I still love her,lol.

I made it into Wisconsin on little sleep and a whole lot of excitement!

Meghan quickly scooped me up from the airport, along with another friend of mine, Kat!! HEY KAT!

She had come down for the day for a “Waukee Hang” (LOL). A huge brunch later, we went back to a friend’s house – Jen! The majority of the time between brunch and going to the venue was spent playing with Jen’s dog, Gracie, and trying to bribe Meghan to tell me what happened at last night’s show. Yes folks, I was like a crackhead for information. I NEEDED TO KNOW!!!

Scanning the setlist, I was so happy to see “Beach Baby.” I had requested that song a few weeks ago, glad he included it! Also… BJORK! What!! Bon Iver covering a BJORK song?? Is this real life? The idea of it was so intriguing I snuck onto Soundcloud and found it. Brilliant. I suggest you all take a listen when you can ­čÖé

A nap later…lol… We decided to head on over to the venue. I was so excited I was about to burst! I think Meghan found my excitement hilarious! LOL. We got to our seats, which were about 10 rows from the back, but still had a great view of the stage. Of course I wished we were front row, but I was just so damned happy to be there, I didn’t even care anymore.

The opening band were The Rosebuds who Justin used to play in back when he lived in North Carolina. I’ve just recently started listening to them, and I do enjoy their songs, but something was off with their sound. At times Ivan’s vocals were way overpowering and loud, other times they were great, and then Kelly’s vocals couldn’t even be heard at all. Not sure what happened there, but it sort of marred their performance slightly…. slightly. I think they would have killed a smaller venue though, no question.

Intermission time was upon us then. Meghan stepped out to stretch her legs and wound up seeing some of the Volcano Choir boys out in the lobby! If you don’t know, Volcano Choir is another band that Justin plays in from time to time.

After a bit Meghan comes back, we talk a little to pass the time… and then…. the lights go down.

My heart immediately starts pounding. I think I grabbed Meg’s arm at one point too.

And then, the cheers start. The deafening applause and yelps completely fill the venue. And out they walked as a group. There were so many of them, they filled the entire stage easily. The backdrop was just a few simple linear lights spread across the stage horizontally. Not fussy at all which I completely expect from Bon Iver. What I didn’t expect was what Justin was wearing. A VEST… and omg… is that… what I think it is?? Justin, are you wearing a BOLO TIE?!?!?! Seriously? LOL. Then again, with him, I am not surprised, just amused. This is the same grown man who performed in a Bart Simpson shirt, and wears a tan fanny pack. And we all love him even more for it. Because it shows how much he’s not into pretenses and appearances. It’s so refreshing… Anyway, I digress….

Finally the tell tale guitar riff of “Perth” begins. The adrenaline in my body at this point has caused me to breathe so heavily I’m feeling a bit faint. Luckily, I managed to calm it down by the time he started singing. And ohhhhh boy, can Justin sing. If you’ve ever doubted the clarity and power of Justin’s falsetto, don’t ever do it again. EVER AGAIN. As a band, on this song, it was extremely overwhelming. They are so cohesive, and so… just… dead on balls accurate on execution that they make it look so easy. Sean and Matt’s dueling drumsets were a thing of encompassing beauty. It was marvelous. At this point I’m so glad they decided to bring all these musicians out on tour because anything less wouldn’t do it justice. Like I predicted, it sounded huge and fucking amazing live and I wanted to live in that moment forever. Those simple little lights provided such an accompaniment to the lyrics and cadence of the song, it was the most spectacular opening song I’ve seen yet, from any band.


And then a few songs later… “Holocene”. The one song I knew I would cry on, and completely on cue, it happened. I looked to Meg and said “Ohhhh nooooo” and felt my eyes well up. I spent the first minute of the song with my head ducked down bawling like a baby. Then I decided to get some audio at least so I can cry about it in the comfort of my own home later today, LOL. But seriously, that song live is just everything I’ve ever felt, every emotion I’ve ever had, every pain I’ve ever experienced. It was overwhelming and I needed to cry on that song to let it out. If you care to hear a fraction of what I heard that night:

(HIGHLY SUGGEST YOU LISTEN THROUGH HEADPHONES/EARBUDS)

After that crying bit, I wound up crying on almost every song all through the middle of the show. It was just 1 song after another, all relevant to me, all have spoken to me or helped me through a situation at one time or another in my life. I remembered these moments and I remember how the songs made me feel at that time, and it was just so cleansing for me to be able to let them go. It’s almost as if hearing the same songs that I heard back then, in a sense, gave me permission to leave it behind. Like I shouldn’t have to carry any guilt or sadness around with me anymore. Particularly gorgeous was one from the new album called “Wash.” The song on the album was already gorgeous, but the live arrangement was stunning. It was one of those moments where you are just so grateful for your life and to be in the room hearing it. I could not stop crying on this song. Meg wound up crying on this one too. The lady next to me probably thought I was completely mental, but I did not care. Justin voice… I can’t even explain… I looked at Meg after one part that Justin sang, just a small riff, but it was so damn gorgeous it hurt me. She felt it too because she had the same expression on her face, and the crowd must have as well because they immediately cheered and clapped.

For a short break in the waterworks department, the boys pulled out another new one called “Hinnom, TX”. I had heard rumblings that while Justin did the heavy lifting on the low parts of the song, the parts that Justin also sing in his falsetto on the album version would be handled by Mike Noyce. Now, I’ve seen Mikey sing only a handful of times, usually in 3 part harmony with Justin and Sean, or a few times taking the lead on some cover songs – “Tampa to Tulsa” and “Simple Man”. But when he bust out the chorus in perfect tune I was so happy. I could have kissed him for doing it so brilliantly. One thing is for sure – All 3 of those guys, Justin, Mikey and Sean can sing their asses off. Without any question.┬áThe crowd loved it too because the round of applause he received was certainly well deserved.

And then, tumbling back into the crying songs… the 1st one that ever made me cry upon first listen was “RE: Stacks”. UGH. Just him, alone in the spotlight, on electric guitar. It was so silent you could probably hear the collective heartbeats of everyone in the room, minus the few “woos” and “i love you justin!!”. It doesn’t translate well to this recording, but you can take a listen and see for yourself:

(HIGHLY SUGGEST YOU LISTEN THROUGH HEADPHONES/EARBUDS)

They then launched into the aforementioned cover of the Bjork song, “Who Is It”. Seeing Justin doing his signature 2-step with castanets in his hands will forever be burned into my memory. But the one who stole the show here was Reggie Pace, who beatboxed the entire song, perfectly. He also plays trombone, and the little bells and chimes you hear through the songs. I know that Meg recorded that one, so I suggest you scour YouTube for it. It was so unexpected, but so well done, it felt so so right.

The main set closer was a thing of beauty and something that I couldn’t wait to experience live, “Wolves”. By now, I’m sure you all have seen videos of this song being sang live and how the crowd reacts to it, but nothing, NOTHING, prepared me for it. It was so freeing to be able to hear and be a part of that song. This one I did manage to take some video of. Stealth video because we weren’t supposed to be recording it at all, but I had to capture this moment, if anything, for memories sake:

(HIGHLY SUGGEST YOU LISTEN THROUGH HEADPHONES/EARBUDS)

The encore brought out an old crowd favorite “Skinny Love.” By this time everyone was on their feet from the energy of “Wolves” and refused to sit back down. So at the top of my lungs I sang about loveable lies and forgoing the parable. I could only imagine how everyone on that stage felt with a crowd of that size singing a song that was written by a man who completely down on himself at the time. This is by far Bon Iver‘s biggest hit to date, and one that most anyone could identify with. At that moment in that room we were all equals, and a room of that size managed to feel like we got to share that tiny cabin with Justin for a few minutes.

True to form, he closed the night with “Beth/Rest”, a complete throwback to the 80’s musically, but lyrically it was the perfect choice to end the show. The arrangement of the song also changed a little bit too. For me, it came across a lot less 80’s and more “this is me, take it or leave it.” Justin declared himself, declared what Bon Iver is (or isn’t depending on how you look at it) and declared that there is so much more to come from him. His genius title is completely well deserved and the closing lines “this is axiom” is him outright telling us┬áthat he knows who he is and what he’s doing. “For Emma..” might have been his happy accident, but “Bon Iver, Bon Iver” is his huge footprint in the cement.

It’s obvious that I’m a fan, but if it’s possible at all to gain even more respect for a musician than you’ve already had tons for, this would be the man, and this would be the band. Bon Iver are a force to be reckoned with, as cheesy as it may sound. To translate such a lush and intricately orchestrated album into a more beautifully lush and intricately orchestrated live show is not an easy task, yet Bon Iver pulls this off flawlessly. This is by far the best show I’ve ever seen, and definitely a show I recommend everyone see.

For more on Bon Iver, visit the website at http://www.boniver.org




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