Bon Iver at the Orpheum, 9/6/11

Categories: Last Night

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Photos by Stacy Schwartz
Bon Iver
September 6, 2011
Orpheum Theatre, Minneapolis

At this point, anything I might be able to say about Justin Vernon and his music, known as Bon Iver, might seem redundant. With the notorious local success story--Vernon released his first album, For Emma, back in 2008 after recording it all by his lonesome in a cabin in north Wisconsin--and the release of his self-titled sophomore album in June, the man behind Bon Iver has solidified his position as the reigning king of the Midwest music scene. He is universally acknowledged as one of the most brilliant songwriters of our generation, a man whose musical intuition swells up from any speaker and floods a room.

But Vernon receives his crown somewhat awkwardly. On stage at the Orpheum last night, flanked by an impressive nine-piece band (four guitarists, three horn musicians, and two drummers, most of whom were multi-instrumentalists, switching after every song to something else), the singer chatted almost nervously with the audience, thanking them repeatedly, humbly. At one point, he told the audience that he remembered sitting in the Orpheum for a John Prine show, and he seemed overwhelmed by his stance now, facing an adoring audience from the other side.

Sonically, the second album was a break from the sparse, haunting melodies found on For Emma. Vernon takes huge leaps, utilizing a full band to expand the sound, with standouts "Blood Bank" and "Perth" crescendoing up in an orchestra-like heartbreak. The band seemingly exploded from the stage as the musicians furiously worked their instruments, rapidly changing gears as every song seemed anthemic--indeed, they were, and every audience member felt it, sang back the lyrics, cheered, cried, hugged. I wondered for a moment why we subject ourselves to this emotion, raw and glorious though it is, over and over and over again. Why is it that we are only too willing to listen to Bon Iver on repeat, open up a bottle of anything, and be sad? Fans are willing to be excruciatingly devastated; is this our eternal human condition, this desire to dive into the river of sorrow that runs deep within us and let it drown us?

It might be. And in that lies the true brilliance of Vernon's music--beyond his falsetto that already sounds like tears, beyond his willingness to let his music simply exist around him, is his ability to define a naked and intense human need and give it sound. He accomplished it wildly last night at the Orpheum; he is sure to do it again tonight. It's a show and an experience you shouldn't miss.

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Photos by Stacy Schwartz
Critic's Bias: I'm a crier. I'll just openly admit to that now.
The crowd: Pretty much 70% was friends and family of the artist, connected in some way to each other. Whenever one of the ushers showed someone to their seat, they ended up hugging whoever had to get up to let them into the aisle. Oh, and then there was this one really annoying row of girls behind me who kept laughing after every song. I wanted to punch them, until a security guard told them to shut up.
Overheard in the crowd: "Thank you for writing this song!" screamed one guy as Vernon began playing "Re: Stacks."
Random notebook dump: In an alternate universe inside my head, Vernon stopped the concert to invite all the men to participate in a beautiful beard contest.
For more photos: See our full slideshow by Stacy Schwartz.
Setlist:
Perth
Minnesota, WI
Holocene
Towers
Creature Fear
Beach Baby
Hinnom, TX
Wash.
Blood Bank
Re: Stacks
Michicant
Calgary
Beth/Rest
For Emma
-
Flume
Skinny Love
The Wolves (Act I and II)


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Location Info

Map

Orpheum Theatre

910 Hennepin Ave., Minneapolis, MN

Category: General


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14 comments
calden@hinshawlaw.com
calden@hinshawlaw.com

I went to both shows.  They were the best shows I've ever seen; nothing even compares.  It is really impossible to describe, or figure out, why and how Justin's music is so good.  It's unlike anything I've ever heard.  Hearing it live is an amazing experience.  It's amazing that music so simple can be so profound and profoundly moving, devestating, heart-wrenching, and perspective-shifting.  His  music is new and fresh and unlike anything that has come before.  It's an invention, like the car or the lightbulb, but for music.     

Springeee
Springeee

It WAS that good of a show. Yeah, the band and sound over-powered the natural talent of Vernon at times and his first album is definitely hard to top. But anyone who was at the show walked away with it with some kind of awe of their talent. In a culture where Bieber and Spears are popular, it is easy to forget what raw, true talent sounds and looks like. Iver embodies talent. Yes, some agree here Natalie's article is too heartfelt, but come on, what's wrong with that. Our culture needs to fall back in touch with their hearts and themselves. And Iver does an amazing job bringing that out in people. Enjoy it for what it is.

Daveed
Daveed

I went to last night's show. I went in a bit skeptical, and walked out a believer. It was that good. To try to sum it up in words is impossible.

Allie Siskoff
Allie Siskoff

I didn't think the show was that great but then again I didn't have high expectations with the way the new album sounds.  I feel like it's just noise and there is no unity between the instruments and the horn instruments kind of kill the music - overtake something that could have been so beautiful.  No doubt, Justin is a great artist and performer, but I feel like he's trying too hard to be something great when he was already something great before.  For Emma is an amazing cd but I definitely don't have the same feelings toward his new self-titled album.  Go back to the simplicity or find a better way to bring the instruments together with a neat little bow - it's defintely a balancing act but if you have the right kind of talent and your musicians are on the same level, it can be done!

Allie
Allie

I didn't think the show was that great but then again I didn't have high expectations with the way the new album sounds.  I feel like it's just noise and there is no unity between the instruments and the horn instruments kind of kill the music - overtake something that could have been so beautiful.  No doubt, Justin is a great artist and performer, but I feel like he's trying too hard to be something great when he was already something great before.  For Emma is an amazing cd but I definitely don't have the same feelings toward his new self-titled album.  Go back to the simplicity or find a better way to bring the instruments together with a neat little bow - it's defintely a balancing act but if you have the right kind of talent and your musicians are on the same level, it can be done!

Jason
Jason

Natalie:  Cheers to you for writing what you feel and attempting to put into words how Bon Iver's music drips with undefinable emotion.  I didn't go to the concert but reading your review makes me wish I had.

Boom Boom Shikadance
Boom Boom Shikadance

Natalie Gallagher, you need to relax. seriously. I love Bon Iver and his sound just as much as the next person. Honestly, you could've taken out "Bon Iver" from this review and replaced it with Justin Bieber, and i bet you couldnt tell the difference between Natailie's review and some 13 year old teeny bopper.

Willow Smith's Hair
Willow Smith's Hair

Notorious, reigning king, universally acknowledged as one of the most brilliant, impressive, adoring, heartbreak, raw, glorious, anthemic, excruciatingly devastating, ability to define a naked and intense human need . . .Sounds like the greatest show in history. I'm sure it was.

John
John

"He is universally acknowledged as one of the most brilliant songwriters of our generation".   UNIVERSALLY?  Wow.  So every man, woman, and child was asked, and they all agreed?   Amazing!

Everything I love is perfect
Everything I love is perfect

Some of the stupidest shit I've ever read. Attention: Justin Vernon, with two albums and 3 years in the public spotlight, has reinvented music to the degree of the car replacing horse-drawn carriages. Your review of this show was profound AND profoundly shortsighted.

Reed Fischer
Reed Fischer

I'd be interested to hear the Justin Bieber song that inspires someone to write about a "desire to dive into the river of sorrow that runs deep within us," which I found to be beautifully stated.

Boom Boom Shikadance
Boom Boom Shikadance

I think Willow Smith's Hair emphasized what I was trying to say pretty well. The point is, is that this was more of an outpouring of the author's strong and at times hyperbolic description ("most brilliant songwriters of our generation"? sorry, but no.) of Bon Iver's music and not the show itself. I'm sure the show was awesome, but i think most people were looking to read a review of a concert, not a raging fan's pontification on the artist's music. It was a strong article, that's for sure, just not a concert review.

Willow Smith's Hair
Willow Smith's Hair

I think what Boom is criticizing is the undeniable fangirl perspective of this piece, which is not what people typically look for in a concert review. Sure, critics can try to impress with metaphors and creative adjectives, but this article is just sentimental gushing. She only mentions two songs played and doesn't even really describe them. Her only criticique is his awkward humility, which is really just another compliment to how "sincere" and "honest" Bon Iver's music is. There's no actual criticism or analysis going on. In order for us to trust the reviewer, she needs to be able to admit the mistakes and missteps as well as the glorious moments. I'm sure it was a good show, but no show is THAT good.

king douche
king douche

i'm not a bon iver fanboy by any means - my experience with his/their records consists of a few cursory listens to each release - but i lucked into tickets and was very pleased to have gone. i've had experiences like natalie's at other concerts, though, and i respect what that means to an artist's hardcore fans. i was sitting behind two 16-year-old boys who were mouthing the words to every song and seemed nearly in tears the entire night. they just kept saying "wow. wow. wow." when it ended. you might call it hyperbole, but it looked like the best night of their lives to those two kids, and that made it worth it for me.

"i'm sure it was a good show, but no show is THAT good."if this is how you truly feel, you may want to re-evaluate your life. it seems like it would blow to live in a mindset where you can't feel blown away by a show, for whatever reason.

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