Best show of the year?
It just may be.
On Monday night, Justin Vernon and crew – better known as Bon Iver – filled the AT&T Performing Arts Center with their yearning and powerful brand of indie folk. What surprised me most about this show was how well Bon Iver was able to fill the venue. I’ve always had the impression that Bon Iver was a quiet band – better suited for a small, intimate venue than something as large as the ATT PAC. But with a grand total of nine musicians on stage, including two drummers, a horn section, and strings – it became an almost laughable notion that they wouldn’t fill the room.
Bon Iver mostly stuck with material off their most recent effort, the self titled album released earlier this summer. A slight departure from their first album, For Emma Forever Ago, Bon Iver features a more robust sound that leans more towards the nuanced, guitar driven rock spectrum then its predecessor’s sparse folk. When Vernon did venture into older territory, he deviated from standard album arrangements like this reserved solo rendition of “Re: Stacks”.
ATT PAC was arguably the perfect venue in town for Bon Iver. The only other venues that could have housed the capacity crowd of over 2,000 people were Granada Theater, Palladium Ballroom or – shudder – Gexa. While we enjoy both Palladium and Granada, neither could have competed with ATT PAC’s sound and lighting system. I, for one, hope to catch more shows at this venue soon.
- I don’t think we were quite prepared for the Bon Iver super fans. Surprisingly, they’re a little nuts – like the indie equivalents to obnoxious pre-teens at a pop show, only a bit more laid back.
- Bon Iver truly put on a show. Not only was the sound impressive, but the stage presence was huge, Justin Vernon engaged well with the crowd, and the lighting was impressive and professional. Too many bands it seems fail to understand that we go to shows to be entertained, not necessarily to hear an album played straight through.
- ATT PAC didn’t seem prepared to handle the bar crowds between sets. Long lines persisted through the set change and it was clear many folks were frustrated.