With otherworldly grooves and an omnipresent pair of shades, Jim James brought his national tour to Portland’s Roseland Theater last week.
Since emerging from the woods in 2008, Bon Iver (Justin Vernon) has astounded the indie scene with his vocal and instrumental melodies that stem from a dark place in the forests of Wisconsin. Vernon’s self-titled second album matched the first in form, function, and beauty. Multi-instruentalism seemed to be the theme of the evening.
The opener, Other Lives, had 5 members each playing at least 3 instruments a piece. The fact that some were playing more than one instrument at a time was by no means a detriment, but added to the crowd’s wonderment and enchantment. After hearing a half-dozen songs from their second album Tamer Animals (May 2011), I proceeded immediately to the merch tent to pick it up on vinyl. As the mood was thoroughly set by the quirky instrumentation of Other Lives, Bon Iver consecrated the energy level for a very excited crowd on a beautiful Autumn night. 2 Drummers, 2 Brass/woodwinds, 2 Fiddlers/guitars, 2 auxiliary percussion/keyboard and Justin Vernon was the equation for Bon Iver on tour. The sound was so amazing and more complete than I had imagined it could be. More was much, much better.
Justin had a humble stage presence and sarcastically joked with the crowd that he was going to play an “old one.” For a guy who has only two albums and one ep under his belt, he has amassed quite the following. The magnitude and beauty of the evening’s performance illuminates his blossom. – Bex Silver
photos by Brenda Ubhoff