Pronounced Ee-vair, not Ee-vay, as I was saying it. (I had suspected as much).
Despite it being three days before our move, we went to see them at Town Hall last night. We'd had tickets since August, so there was no getting round it, and really, it was nice to go out for an evening with friends and see a show and not spend the evening packing and watching Firefly. (Although our last three shows have been the Bearded Mountain Man Triumvirate--first The Fleet Foxes, then Iron & Wine, and now Bon Iver. 'sup with that?)
Since it was Horrifically Downpouring out, we went to nearby Virgil's for dinner. I was ascared, but Dave assured me the food was decent. I wouldn't really go that far. I think I was served Smoked Tourist. But we survived and got to our seats just as the band came on.
They were terrific.
First, a little backstory--on our honeymoon, Dave and I were deprived of music. The condo we rented had no sound system, and while we borrowed my sisters radio-iPod thingy, it only kind of worked. We had spent a moderately dreadful day in Poipu (dreadful by comparison to all other lovely honeymoon-type days) in the very hot sun and barely in the water because Dave broke his board five minutes in at Brennecke's, and then we had a lot of time to kill before dinner and nowhere to go and nothing we really felt like doing.
We ended up sitting outside (in the shade) at a Starbucks, which sounds perfectly pathetic and unpleasant except for one thing--the music. As we sat down, Aimee Mann was playing. We were moderately pleased about that. And then they played Josh Ritter--at which point we ran inside to ask which radio station this was (turned out it was a special Starbucks cd, more's the pity). And then they played Bon Iver's Skinny Love, and transformed the afternoon--I was suddenly blissful. I was drinking an iced latte, reading Murakami, and listening to a song that seemed entirely out of place in Hawaii but sounded absolutely perfect for the moment. The song was stuck in my head for the rest of the trip.
Last night, they played Skinny Love second. I was sort of disappointed about that, since it's my favorite song and I didn't want the rest of the show to be a let down. It wasn't. (Not that the Skinny Love performance wasn't excellent--it was. Three members of the band played drums (and something else--I don't think you can make it into this band without playing at least two instruments), all slamming down in one wrenching thud. You would think it would be gimmicky, but it wasn't.)
The guitarist, an even skinnier Michael Cera, is very good. He sits with his red sneakers pigeontoed over each other, and plays a cool-headed, spare, and not at all showy guitar. On a new song, Justin Vernon and the keyboardist played together a looping, building range of trills and chords, which was unexpectedly thrilling. (I didn't care for the keyboardist's song though. Sorry.)
From listening to the cd, I figured Justin Vernon for a mumbler--he's not (I can't understand him at all, mind you, but he's enunciating just the same). He's got a high, echoy voice and wails like a banshee.
They closed the show with The Wolves, and another could-be gimmick. I'm not really one for audience participation, but the last time two times I've seen a show at Town Hall, it's worked. Feist had us all up and dancing to Sea Lion Woman, which was joyous and goofy and fun. The Wolves, starting with "Harness your pain" is not. So you would think that having the audience sing "what might have been lost" again and again and closing with a howl would not be a particularly good idea.
Turned out it was. I confess, I didn't howl. But that was just because I was listening to everybody else. And it wasn't goofy at all--it just echoed.