all too sore for sound

“Growing up around here you learn that you’re not one thing, but that you’re part of a bigger thing.” – Justin Vernon on his Wisconsin upbringing

There’s nothing people in Wisconsin love more than things that come from Wisconsin – the Packers, cheese, beer, and Bon Iver. Here are some videos from their home-state show in Madison, Wisconsin, on December 10, 2011, at the Orpheum Theater.

When I saw Bon Iver on tour this summer, “Wash.” unexpectedly brought me to tears. I liked it on the album, but live it hit me like a ton of bricks. Insanely beautiful, especially with the extended lead-in of preceding song “Hinnom, TX”.

Bon Iver – Hinnom, TX / Wash.


To close the show, the band enlisted the room in singing the “what might have been lost” line of “The Wolves (Acts I and II)” over and over as the band continued to build their sound, culminating in an explosive release by everyone in the room. It’s rare to see near-literally everyone in a venue participating with enthusiasm, blurring the line between performer and audience. Hear the 2000-plus-person sing-along below.

Bon Iver – The Wolves (Acts I and II)

Lastly, I give you “Perth”. We posted a recording of “Perth” this summer, too, but since it is one of the best things I’ve ever heard live (all-over chills both times I’ve seen them play it) it seemed worth recording again. Excited for them to come around again – seeing Bon Iver is an experience, far more than just going to a show.

Bon Iver – Perth


the truth is not found in the hue

A familial atmosphere hung about Madison, Wisconsin’s High Noon Saloon as Megafaun and Icarus Himself teamed up for a night of homegrown tunes on June 17, 2010.

Making up Megafaun are Eau Claire natives and former bandmates of Bon Iver’s Justin Vernon Brad Cook, Phil Cook, and Joe Westerlund. Now residing in North Carolina, the trio melds its Midwestern roots with their new southern swing to create songs that cross the valleys between atmospheric folk and blissed-out jams.

Stomping country clap-alongs were where Megafaun found the most success, getting the crowd to dance and in one case employing them as backup singers. However, for every time they drew the crowd in, they let them drift in equal measure. The band’s set held too many dragged-out meanderings that lead nowhere, making for impatient, weight-shifting, bathroom-visiting interludes.

Madison-based band Icarus Himself provided direct support for Megafaun, and though I only caught their last couple of songs, I was impressed. Now a three-piece, the band’s sound has come a long way from the one-man acoustic set we saw as opener for Owen in 2008.

Click here for the official Megafaun site.
Click to learn about Icarus Himself.
See more photos from the show here.