Bon Iver, Brooklyn, Last Night

by Myles Tanzer

The moon over Prospect Park last night was exceptionally nice. Justin Vernon, the lead singer of Bon Iver, took careful notice of this. “Take a look at the moon, it’s really awesome,” he told a crowd. Everyone erupted in cheers for the moon because Justin said so.

Bon Iver fans are a unique group of people. There was the girl switching off taking hits of a joint and covering up her coughing with bites of carrot and humus. There was the group of “bro” friends who are clearly only friends during the summer months. They spoke about the definition of “rompers” and placed bets on how many people in the crowd had iPhones. There were also the three brace-faced teenage girls accompanied by a “cool mom.” Summer camp memories were shared between loud giggles.

Our ongoing beard epidemic was well represented. The most popular style is now the version that Jack sports on Lost when exclaiming that the survivors “have to go back” (for reference). Others were seen with basic scruff and some brave men even wore very long beards.

Bon Iver’s fans share a fascination with the band’s grizzly frontman that’s near Bieber-esque. Everyone “woo’ed” like they were seeing a teen idol when Vernon hit the stage; one girl screamed “I love you Justin” after the first song.

Most of the crowd though was made up with couples. All of the June/July flings have turned into serious August romances, just now hitting their peaks before the “back-to-reality” September breakups. A boyfriend was seen fanning pot smoke out of his girlfriend’s face as they mouthed the words to “Calgary” — one of the night’s highlights.

Justin Vernon plays in front of an eight-piece band which is I guess the only way for him to play his multi-instrument music live without any cheap tricks. The crowd’s favorite was either the percussionist/beatboxer/horn player who looked like Reggie Watts, or maybe Michael Lewis, the bass player, who someone behind me said looked “exactly like Jack Black.”

“Beth Rest,” the Bruce Hornsby-inspired jam from the new album, was particularly enhanced by the full band. It went from mellow thing to arena rock anthem of almost Van Halen or Def Leopard proportions. In any event, lighters were put up in the air.

At night’s end Bon Iver came out for a second encore. The audience was at its peak happiness after a rousing first encore of “Skinny Love”, “Who Is It” (A Bjork cover), and “The Wolves (Act I & II).” The full band took the stage again and tore into a version of “For Emma.”

As the song started, a hard cool wind came in and blew over the crowd. I turned around to look at everyone and they were smiling, because it felt like some neat trick, like Justin himself had caused the wind to blow. The moon was up high behind them and it was an awesome moon.