We told you that the Bon Iver show last week was sold out, and we were just as excited about it as all of you were.
Here's the scene outside even before doors opened at 9pm.
It was such a memorable event that I asked some staff to share their thoughts on it. Sonya (you may have bought a drink from her at the show) spoke with the band and had this to say about Bon Iver's album, For Emma, Forever Ago:
"It's intent was to be self medicating and potentially go no further than the remote land on which it was conceived- but we at the Space staff and the over 200 fans that were there to witness the beauty of it live, are so glad it reached us... Vernon and his four-man band (all clad in Rogue's Gallery threads) touched us with their minimalistic instrumenatation, trademark layered melodies and chill evoking falsetto. Despite shouted requests from the audience and Vernon's apparent and understandable resistance to playing their single "Skinny Love," he did pull it out as the last song of their set. The hushed sing-along began and made for a memory building moment as nearly everyone in the room chanted, "My, my, my.""
"The Bon Iver show on Friday was the hot ticket of the month - perhaps of the year - and with hype comes expectation. Those of you prescient enough to get tickets before they were all claimed experienced a rare treat of expectations easily exceeded.
SPACE felt brimmed to capacity before the Bowerbirds opened the musical portion of the night (which simply followed the wait-on-line, excited chatter, let's-get-a-PBR portion). Phil Moore and Beth Tacular blended their voices in honest Americana pleasantness, combining strong melodies and diverse yet sparse instrumentation – accordion, bass drum, violin, acoustic guitar, foot synth - and expertly performing the part of warm-up act.
However, all eyes and hearts were on Justin Vernon and Bon Iver. Justin sat toward the front of the SPACE stage facing the audience he warmly and genuinely appreciated, a fact he demonstrated not only with his often-muttered "I love you"s but also in the unwavering passion with which he belted each song in pitch perfect falsetto.
Those in attendance were fans, singing along, eyes fixed on Justin, feeling the Midwestern icy isolation which fueled the album's – and therefore the bulk of the set's – theme and set list. The back up band (another guitarist, a bassist, and a drummer) was locked in; they stayed appropriately in the background (except when Justin called attention to some unrevealed Montreal adventures involving guitarist Michael's recent 21st birthday), chiming in with light vocals and harmonies which effectively matched Justin's doubled vocals from the record.
We the audience were also asked to be a part, and we happily sang along to "The Wolves" (both acts), but also let Justin go solo when it was called for, like in his set-closing version of "Re: Stacks" which he sang after sending his band off to the showers (it was warm and sweaty under the lights).
Justin expressed his love again, and said goodnight, but was summoned whole-heartedly back for a predictable (but fervently demanded) encore – something was missing, there was one song left un-played. We all knew he would come back out to sing "Skinny Love;" we did not know he would grab his guitar and chair and plunge into the center of the audience and present it unplugged literally in and among his Portland fans (see the end of the photo album). What a treat. We helped him sing it though we needn't have; his voice filled the Gallery without amplification, sealing an already intimate evening on the ultimate personal note.
Bon Iver told us to be patient, and all week we tried to be. Boy was it worth the wait."
Check out more photos from this show right here.