Last night I got to see Bon Iver perform at the Prospect Park Band Shell. It was an awesome show.

Bon Iver - Wolves Act I & II (Live) by reecepacheco

I recorded this SoundCloud file on my phone of “Wolves Act I & II” during the encore last night. Still have chills thinking about it… 

Seeing Justin Vernon/Bon Iver lead eight (8!) others on stage was quite a performance, though I couldn’t help but reminisce about the first time I saw him live…

I’d heard his now famous track “Skinny Love” about four years ago on a now defunct underground internet radio station and fell in love with it immediately. So when I heard Bon Iver was opening for Elvis Perkins in Providence, I had to go. I drove an hour (from my parents’ basement on Cape Cod) to Providence, really just to hear this magical voice… “c'mon skinny love, just last the year…”

At the time, the album wasn’t even released yet - just “Skinny Love” - so I was really flying on blind faith, but man did it pay off. Justin played solo, to a dead-still, awestruck crowd of about 30 people. His presence was so powerful, you could hear a pin drop between notes. I’ll never forget it.

He played about 6 songs and called it a night after a rendition of “Wolves Act I & II,” in which he had the crowd singing the chorus “what might have been lost…” It was a lot like this… 

After the show, I was able to catch him by the bar and tell him what an amazing performance it was. I’d love to say ‘I knew he’d be a huge success,’ but I honestly wasn’t sure he would and that’s what is amazing about Bon Iver… he’s such a breath of fresh air from mainstream music (which likely hearkens back to the roots of his first album - recorded in the woods of a Wisconsin winter).

What I couldn’t help but feel last night was that Bon Iver was making real music and performing real emotion. Most of his songs don’t follow conventions and most people can’t sing along to every track, but that pure bittersweet heartfelt elation you feel when you listen to his music - particularly live - is a thing of beauty.

I also recorded Skinny Love…

Bon Iver - Skinny Love (Live) by reecepacheco