Bon Iver, Feist at Red Rocks Amphitheatre, 5/31/12 (photos and review)By Kristopher Coe | June 1st, 2012 | 3 comments
Of all people, Justin Vernon (Bon Iver’s enigmatic frontman) should know this. Vernon has a devout, if not stalker-friendly following of enthusiastic fans who adore his softer side. If you doubt this, just take a mindful glance at boniverotica.tumblr.com. Filled with Bon Iver farce erotica, the nonsensical vignettes found there are a testament to Vernon’s backwoods earthly appeal, his oft-aired lyrical laundry, and his first class ride on the fame train — a ride that has taken him from intimate clubs to headlining Red Rocks in just a few short years.
Opening with the layered syncopation of “Perth” and the folk rap of “Minnesota, WI,” the band was a crisp and dynamic troupe. Vernon’s voice was a powerful beacon, too — guiding each song with a sugary earnestness as the dual-drum earthquake of Sean Carey and Matthew McCaughan amplified the intensity. Other standouts included “Holocene,” with its percussive crescendo, and the luscious “Skinny Love.” “Beth, Rest” was an ear-bleeding cascade of low-tone vibrations and Genesis-era production tricks.
Vernon’s music doesn’t have quite the same mode of comic relief. His lyrics are mournful poetry, his songs are built on a bulwark of synths and theatrical flair, and the falsetto shrill in his voice resonates with a familiar, soothing sadness. Altogether, Vernon’s sound is a textural mosaic of sophistication, as was evidenced at Red Rocks on Thursday night.
For her part, Feist opened the show with a mostly re-worked setlist of ragged calypso funk and jazz. It was a perfect pairing as Feist’s impish vocals and the collective medium of horns and back-up singers energized the flannel-and-fedora crowd. “Mushaboom,” “Graveyard,” and “Limit To Your Love” were nothing short of mesmerizing.
Kris K. Coe is a freelance writer, Denver-native, and regular contributor to Reverb.
Glenn Ross is a Denver-based photographer and regular contributor to Reverb. See more of his work here.