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Bon Iver Captivates Philadelphia Audience



Sunday night Justin Vernon brought his indie rock style the Mann Music Center in Fairmount Park to dazzle Philadelphia. The most difficult part about writing this review won’t be about how to translate what I experienced into words, but how to properly address the performer(s). Justin Vernon is the mastermind of the group, but in reality because he records and produces the albums himself, he is Bon Iver. Is it he or they? Them of him? Maybe by the end we’ll figure it out together.

My friend and I were both worried that we might fall asleep during the show, not because of the sedate nature of his/their albums, but my friend ran 13.1 miles earlier that morning as part of the Philadelphia Rock N’ Roll Half Marathon (Good job Dave) & I had been tailgating at the Eagles game all day. Despite Justin Timberlake’s joking about Bon Iver songs the band/Justin turns it up a few notches when on stage.

Weather was great, the crowd was respectful (nobody was yelling obnoxious “Woooo’s” or “Justin we love you’s” during a quiet lull in a song like I seem to get at an Eddie Vedder or Ryan Adams show). Vernon kicked off the show by walking out alone and using auto tune and looping his own voice, layering it to create an a cappella choir of just Justin, opening with the track “Woods.”

From there Justin and the other eight musicians on stage, a crew of multi instrumentalists that included a violinist/guitar player, two drummers, numerous horns, and keyboards. The arrangements of the 15 songs is what was really impressive on a stage that was well designed and added to the intimate show without inducing seizures.

Vernon even threw in a little banter on the same day as the Eagles home opener, a game which the team won by one point against the Baltimore Ravens, noting that the song “Flume” was inspired by the Eagles and the song was about “God giving birth to Andy Reid, that’s the genesis of Bon Iver, is this song…”

I’ll leave you with if you EVER have the chance to see Bon Iver live, GO!  Here’s what I had the pleasure of listening to on a gorgeous Sunday evening:


  • The Wolves (Act I and II)
  • For Emma

Thanks to Dave for helping me write this post! We both feel it’s hard to articulate a show this good, but I think he did a damn good job!