The Falconer

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Bon Iver wows sonically

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On a crisp November evening in Charlottesville, Justin Vernon and his coterie that makeup Bon Iver (pronounced Bone-ee-VARE) took the stage at the Sprint Pavillion.  Although it was quite a risk to schedule an outdoor concert for November, it appeared that even the weather was excited to welcome the Grammy-winning band.

The full moon shone through the clouds painting the sky with uncommon textures and colors, adding yet another layer of stardust to the sold-out performance. 3,500 concertgoers sat in rapt attention as the band conjured various sonic landscapes from the newest album “22, A Million,” as well as several songs from the older catalog.

Bon Iver formed in 2006, and now have three albums to their credit. The newest album is a departure from previous efforts, due to a heavy emphasis on electronics and samples, but for the die-hard Bon Iver fan, it all comes back to the voice of Justin Vernon. And even with the new approach, Vernon is still at the center with his unique falsetto.

The band opened the night with the first cut from the new album, “22 (Over Soon),” where a sampled and heavily modified voice repeats, “It might be over soon.” This song, like many on the new album, takes the listener to a place uncommon in popular music. Employing an aural landscape shrouded in melancholy yet tempered with hope, Bon Iver proffers a transcendental experience to the listener.

As the night progressed, the band deftly worked through every song from the new album, except for “21 (Moon Water).” Highlights included the cathartic “33 God” and the vocoder-driven “715 (Creeks);” both songs showcased Vernon’s diverse sonic palette.

The band interspersed the new material with crowd favorites “Skinny Love,” “Perth” and “Holocene.” In the closing song “The Wolves (Act I and II)” from the album “For Emma,” Vernon encouraged the audience to sing along with the refrain, “What Might Have Been Lost.” The audience enthusiastically contributed their voices to the flawless mix and in turn answered the question.

“What might have been lost?” On this magical night in November, missing an evening with one of the most important artists of a generation touring in support of its magnum opus would have been a significant loss for any music lover.   

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Bon Iver wows sonically