The story behind Bon Iver is this: An intriguing bearded guy from Wisconsin locks himself in a cabin during the coldest part of winter to record some deep, reflective songs about the nature of life, death and heartbreak. American folk singer and song writer Justin Vernon did just that, and today, his music is adored by many.
Founded in 2007, the band has enjoyed immense success. Their first album release was in July of that year, and they have since released two more albums; “Blood Bank” and “Bon Iver.” In addition to Justin Vernon, Michael Noyce helps out with vocals and the guitar, Sean Carey is responsible for the drums and piano, and Mathew McCaughan takes care of the bass and drums.
The music from their first album is thoughtful, introspective, and moving. Listeners are humbled by Vernon’s barely audible voice seeping through the mellifluous flow of instruments and sounds. “Skinny Love” is one of their most acclaimed songs from the album “For Emma, Forever Ago,” and it made top charts on the radio and on iTunes when it was first released. It is a song about love lost, and it explores the meaning behind companionship and passion.
Two songs from the album “Bon Iver” that have also been extremely well received are “Blood Bank” and “Holocene.” In this album, Vernon moves from that quiet, thoughtful whisper and instead adopts a kind of vital musicality, enabling listeners to feel more inclusive and less intrusive. “Bon Iver” was a great stepping stone for the band’s career, and it has left fans excited for what’s to come.
The live experience of Bon Iver was incredible. Spreckles Theatre was an excellent choice of venue, and it demanded a casual but classy kind of attire. The elegance of the theatre alone contributed to the atmosphere of the entire concert, as it was less of a “man with a guitar singing acoustically” kind of concert and more of a group of professionals coming together to perform and enchant an excited audience.
The crowd was uniform in that it was swimming with hipsters. Fedoras, flannels, thick-rimmed glasses and skinny ties were rampant throughout. These people were just radiating a vibe of independence, counter-culture, progressive politics, and an appreciation for “underground art.” And although Bon Iver is no longer underground, these folks gathered together to celebrate his popularity not so much as fans, but as listeners who moved with him through the beginning stages of fame.
The performance was surreal. The band members were trapped in a haze of different colored lights, and most often a red or blue glow was emitted from the stage. The lights themselves constantly changed depending on the beat and rhythm of the music, making what you saw entirely parallel to what you heard. The musicians were all so talented, and in the middle of the concert a lone violinist came out on stage. The band members slowly crept off, leaving one man, one spotlight, and one violin. The feeling that he left the audience with was the perfect kind of chilling.
Vernon’s voice was the cherry on top. It is raw, real, and wounded, and you can hear his pain and triumph through his talent. The coolest part about Vernon was his ability to expose himself through his music, and listeners come to feel as though they are hearing story after story which only a few close friends are supposed to know. Vernon was inviting, funny, and human, and because of that, Bon Iver is a band that more and more people will be inclined to listen to.
So keep your eyes open for upcoming concerts and venues Bon Iver may be participating in. Or better yet, keep your ears open for music that sounds emotional, evocative, and breathtaking. Odds are it’s Bon Iver you are listening to. And odds are that you’re going to absolutely love it.