In early September, OnMilwaukee.com Staff Writer Molly Snyder Edler sat down with Bon Iver's Justin Vernon to talk about his album and ongoing tour.
When asked for insight into tonight's show at the Riverside Theater, Vernon replied, "We've gotten better -- but we want to keep it pretty intimate and down-to-earth."
For those of us lucky enough to be among the sold out crowd, we can assure you that's exactly what went down.
The Daredevil Christopher Wright, also from Eau Claire, kicked things off promptly at 8 p.m. followed by Bon Iver -- around 9:30 p.m. -- for a solid hour and a half.
I was caught waiting in the bathroom when the show started and as I rushed from the fourth level to my seat on the floor, I realized the stairwells, hallways and lobby were completely deserted. Every last soul was attentively in its seat.
Vernon, along with four bandmates, rotated both instruments and dominant roles throughout the set. Although Vernon joked about the limited band repertoire, the set list included everything from "Creature Fear" and "Skinny Love," off the album, to "Blood Bank" and "Beach Baby," from the EP. The live show bonus was a cover of The Outfield's "Your Love."
The band, overtly conscientious of it being the tour's final show, thanked the audience repeatedly for their support of both AIDS Walk Wisconsin and the band throughout the tour.
Representative of the album, Vernon at times sat solo on stage with soft, angelic lyrics. But surprisingly, the show was as intense and aggressive as it was subdued and reflective. On stage, Vernon and his band mates had lively exchanges, playing off each other and the audience with humility and humor.
Vernon's style of singer / songwriter performance is nothing new, yet his words and composition touched on a revolutionary honesty seldom reached and found solely in the depths of sorrow and a turn of rebirth. For in his words, there is as much hope as there is despair and even in his show tonight, he seems to find solace and insight in reflecting on the pain and confusion of his past.
Crafted out of the isolation of living alone in northwestern Wisconsin, both the album and the live performance add an unrefined edge to a sense of inner transformation. Revealing himself with complete modesty, Bon Iver's music appeals as much because it's beautiful as because there's a relatable tinge running through every note.
Tonight's show followed a noon performance for AIDS Walk Wisconsin at Veteran's Park. Justin Vernon served as the honorary chair for this year's AIDS Walk.
OnMilwaukee.com staff writer Maureen Post grew up in Wauwatosa. A lover of international and urban culture, Maureen received a bachelor’s degree in sociology from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
After living on the east side of Madison for several years, Maureen returned to Milwaukee in 2006.
After a brief stint of travel, Maureen joined OnMilwaukee.com as the city’s oldest intern and has been hooked ever since. Combining her three key infatuations, Milwaukee’s great music, incredible food and inspiring art (and yes, in that order), Maureen’s job just about fits her perfectly.
Residing in Bay View, Maureen vehemently believes the city can become fresh and new with a simple move across town.