MCOM 225: Critique #4 – Bon Iver

My music library is something I’m really proud of, I’ve worked hard on my diverse collection and my knowledge of music. Aha! You thought I’d be proud of something more serious, like my academic progress or work or something… I most definitely am. But I can’t deny that music was part of the reason(s) why I progressed in those areas of my life… yes. You can laugh, others have.

On a serious note though, music is one of the most powerful things out there. It’s this thing that bypasses region, language, religion, age… It has the power to move you, to make you dance like a crazy person or bring tears to your eyes. It makes memories and hearing an old song makes you reminisce.

The power to bring people together.

That’s kind of why most of my critiques are musical performances. All these musicians are great performers.

To me one of the bands that hits me right in the feels is Bon Iver.  

Justin Vernon, along with 8 other musicians, are exactly that. I’ve watched a few shows for them on YouTube and I have all their albums, so this critique isn’t about ONE show per say… It’s about the general performance of Justin and the band.  

Even though Justin released Bon Iver’s debut album, For Emma, Forever Ago independently in 2007 and played all the instruments during recording, the live band is bi(iii)g. Each member plays more than one instrument… they are an ensemble of raw impeccable sounds.  

The whole atmosphere they produce is amazing. Even though it’s indie folk, they fill up the emptiness (which other bands have and it makes them somewhat boring in live shows). Bon Iver, don’t have that, though in the album each song was heavily edited with a large number of overdubs. There are about a gadzillion unique instruments on stage though , some of them I’ve never seen before.


Vernon’s voice alone sends chills down my spine, he has so much control over it and long breath. The guy’s normal speaking voice is rough and deep (af) Look at this video:


BUT when he sings… oh when he sings… it’s so velvety and so angelic… His facial expressions are so pure, you can’t help but melt and feel all the feels. As an artist, Vernon is a genius of sorts, because he knows how to compose messy clam music! Even the back vocals by the rest of the musicians are so harmonic…but not in a church choir kind of way a… That’s the thing I can’t compare them to anything else. They’re Bon Iver, a unique group with a unique sound.  

Anyway, Vernon’s presence is vivid and it’s something that he works on since it’s a big band. It’s an interdependent band that mushes together.

Even when it’s only him and a guitar:

Obviously, all bands sound different live, but what’s great about Vernon is that his voice is pure. Indeed he uses a lot of sound effects but the flaws live are the gems of the show! Watching him live is mesmerizing because you get to see all the genuine feelings that go into making music like this.

I don’t even know if this is a proper critique… I don’t know.



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