Live: Bon Iver

May 25th, 2012 at Deer Lake Park in Burnaby, B.C.

Aimlessly walking around the large outdoor venue hoping the deep-fried carbs would keep me occupied until I started to hear that beautifully distorted instrumentation. Those who couldn’t see the stage and even the ones hundreds of feet outside the venue, heard when the nine-piece group entered to man their posts. Our date with Bon Iver began in the same fashion as the self-titled sophomore record does. “Perth” followed by “Minnesota, WI;” an inseparable love like Lois and Clark. After five more from the second LP, the story of being stuck in the snow received a tempo boost I wasn’t that fond of, but nonetheless an excellent performance.

The sun had almost set, the temperature had dropped to a mild sixteen degrees and Justin Vernon had been abandon on stage. If you couldn’t hear the pin drop, it was the gentle smacking of lips as guys and gals felt obliged to lay one on their significant others while he played “re: Stacks” acoustically. As the words “drunk as hell” were projected into the night air, I look over and even the intoxicated girl next to us had piped down and perked those ears; temporarily that is.

As the band came back out on stage, the first strums of “Skinny Love” created an eruption of excitement throughout the crowd. “Psych! Just kidding” Vernon exclaimed before starting the song over due to a lack of imperfection. At one point he asked us “Are we unprofessional?” Casually blurting out “Fuck Yeah!” after we answered him with cheers. The chorus was especially powerful with what felt like all nine musicians on stage singing at once.

Mr. Vernon summoned the crowd like large wolf pack to join him on “The Wolves (Act I & II).” Nearly 10,000 simultaneously howled “What might have been lost,” gradually increasing the volume as if it were on a automatic gain control. Distorted images of wolves were splattered across the burlap draped above the stage. Prior to that, they chose to cover Björk’s 2004 single “Who Is It.” To my ear’s delight, the beatboxing was all but forgotten.

To cap off the evening, a song For the lady who inspired the beginning; her name is Emma. The composition has that “goodnight and farewell” feeling to it; the perfect end to a beautiful evening.

What was your live Bon Iver experience like?

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