Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Bon Iver, Fox Theater, Boulder on June 12th

Bon Iver, Fox Theater, Boulder

When you drive 2+ hours from Laramie to a show, it's easy to be a little worried about seeing a "mellow" artist before hitting the road back home after midnight. The right combination of quiet pretty songs and a swig of Jameson at the show can mean a long ride north.

On his second date in the Front Range this weekend, Bon Iver led off on Sunday with the beautiful Flume and while I loved it, I worried about the mellow factor. No need for alarm as Justin Vernon and his band turned up the volume and re-arranged all the favorites from For Emma, Forever Ago in a way that no one could call "mellow". Creature Fear knocked the sold-out crowd's socks right off and we knew no one was falling asleep.

Even with the sweltering guitars, the lyrics from his indie torch song masterpiece proved more affecting that I anticipated. There are very few shows indeed where I tear up and feel truly heartsick over the music, but Sunday was one of those nights. Bon Iver's songs forgo cliche in favor of an emotional landscape that is muddy and slippery and true in some elemental way.

I knew I loved Skinny Love before the 3 person percussion was added, but I liked it loud in the live setting. And Blood Bank never really worked for me until this show and the Neil Young/ Crazy Horse encore treatment it received.

But getting back to those lyrics, man, they come at you when sung live to a hushed crowd. Re: Stacks topped my wishlist of songs to hear Sunday, and it topped my all-time list of amazing-gorgeous-powerful songs to hear live. Friends in the Pacific Northwest used to tell me about girls crying through Eliot Smith sets and I felt like one of those girls Sunday night. When it came time to sing along with Wolves (Act I and II), my quiet "what might have been lost" joined with what seemed like the rest of Boulder.

It took Bon Iver a long time to make it to the Rockies, let's hope he comes back. Soon.

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