Photo by M. Janicki
Lead singer Justin Vernon has come quite a long way over the past couple years, and has weaved quite the tale surrounding his music. As the story goes, Vernon recorded his debut 2008 album For Emma, Forever Ago, while staying in his cabin up in northern Wisconsin by himself for four months. After breaking up with his former band DeYarmond Edison, his original plan was to unwind and recover from the turmoil of that experience and other things going on in his life; however, that period of isolation turned into cathartic songwriting--or better put: "All of his personal trouble, lack of perspective, heartache, longing, love, loss and guilt that had been stock piled over the course of the past six years, was suddenly purged into the form of song." (Amble Down Records).
What came from this solitary stroke of artistic creation was Bon Iver--a cross between the folk of Iron and Wine combined with the falsetto voice of Tunde Adebimpe of TV on the Radio. For Emma, Forever Ago rose out of nowhere to achieve popularity and acclaim by critics and fans alike. During his Lollapalooza performance, Bon Iver once again reminded the audience why they had become so acclaimed in the past year. The quartet ran through their tracks from the debut album and their new 2009 EP Blood Bank.
The dynamics and buildups in his songs opened up a chance for the audience to become intimate with his thoughts from that lonely winter, from his pain and suffering, and him moving forward as he begins to cope and understand what has happened in his life. “The Wolves (Act I and II)” stands as a melancholy call, mourning a lost love meanders through Vernon’s cries in pain, before the song implodes into the chaos of ‘what might have been lost’. As Bon Iver ran through their lonely, heartfelt songs, the group set the mood for the audience, as the rain came down on the dark and dreary afternoon.