This isn’t Bon Iver’s first trip to the San Francisco rodeo.
The accomplished anti-establishment act from the great state of Wisconsin had done the San Francisco bull ride before. The quartet played a side stage at Outside Lands in their first trip to San Francisco and most recently where they cooed to the collegiates and more at the Greek in Berkeley.
Promoted by Another Planet, the Bill Graham Civic Auditorium–where drum beats and falsetto medleys will cascade from this evening–presents a challenge for the now seasoned touring act. The auditorium is a cavernous, largely non-descript hall which makes it challenging for a lighter and more nuanced sound than say, Lady Gaga. The stage sits at a raised height from the audience and most nights up to 8,000 can come through the turnstiles.
This is a new task for the band who has only played intimate settings, The Fillmore or on stages set-up up for an amphitheater or “look-down” effect (The Fox, The Greek). Beyond the challenges of the venue, the sound in Billy Graham can also resonate in question marks.
Still, despite holograms and celebrated overseas acts, it was Bon Iver who made the biggest headlines this past week at Coachella. Noted music critic Bob Lefsetz had this to say about the band fronted by Justin Vernon:
Every hipster in America is testifying about him.
Furthermore, the press fawns. But he was everything we’re looking for, completely special without trying too hard.
He looks like a guy from your math class. His chest is not ripped and his hair is getting thin. But boy could he wring ethereal effects from his guitar.
And there was brass and backup vocals and the end result was an aural tapestry you couldn’t help but weave yourself into. What Justin Vernon was selling you can’t get at the movies, you can’t read in a book, it’s the essence of music.
Sure, he’s got a nontraditional voice. But so does Neil Young.
And Neil’s a good comparison. Because both he and Mr. Vernon go their own way, obey their own muse, are unaffected by both trends and media feedback.
That’s heady praise from Lefsetz even if it is slightly behind the times as Bon Iver’s 2011 self-titled release went platinum and won a Grammy (which Vernon summarily dismissed).
Bon Iver’s plays the Billy Graham tonight at 8pm on Grove Street. Take a stroll through Hayes Valley on the way there. Grab some traditional beer and sausage at the relatively new Suppenkuche Beer Garden (like they would in Wisconsin) and enjoy the serenade.
Oh, and Thrillcall. Yeah, our app has tickets. Go there now before it’s too late!