Bon Iver @ RNR Hotel, with Black Mountain 2/19/08
The deep harmonies of “Lump Sum” was an early crest of the vocal awareness of the band all around. All three members had two mics, one with a doubled effect and one regular, an interesting twist which definitely highlighted the winteresque vibes. Unfortunately, 90% of the audience couldn’t see a thing. The whole band was sitting, and because the Hotels’ stage is all of 4″ above the floor or it just so happens that Black Mountain fans are all 8′ tall, no one could see a thing. The consolation was in the form of dead silence during the set, even between songs, was so refreshing. Everyone stood in awe of the art being created in front of them. This is true for all songs except “The Wolves” where Vernon asked for the audience to sing backup: a resounding “What might have been lost.” The drummer during the end of that song was going nuts, like a drunken yuppie breaking everything he can afford in his one bedroom studio 12 floors above the angry, cold night, only realizing after shards of glass cover his blood stained carpet that doing so accomplishes less than nothing, and he fades into the sorrow of the sleepless morning after. Vernon could control the whole crowd. The songs ebbed from self-proclaimed neo-soul to rock influenced singer/songwriter ballads. A very awesome beginning to what’s sure to be an awesome, awesome tour. To listen to the whole show go here and then you can figure it out. As for Jagjaguwar labelmates, Black Mountain . . . Well, I came for Bon Iver. They were good; at least I could see them, they were all standing. The female lead vocalist is the reason people either love or hate this band, as its a mangled sirens’ quivering shriek (guess which camp I fall into), enough to set them apart from the onslaught of other indierock bands. Doesn’t automatically mean different is better, nor does it mean the opposite. I like the 90’s, lo-fi sound, what sounds like is influenced by Lou Barlow with the elegant guitar, enough to know he’s talented but won’t try to push too far ahead of his means. The sensual use of organ from the start of every song hinted at the inevitable picked-up second movement, and was all but perfect for the credits of a vampire flick. The heroin falsetto of the lead male vocal was in contrast to the opening acts honest falsetto. On whole, songs were just a build up to the last minute or two of each, respectively. They may have been good finishing minutes, but out of context, they’d be hardware. I’d like to listen to an album, maybe that would give me a better idea of what they were about.
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