Marfa Dialogues

Bon Iver

1 October 2009


Bon Iver with Megafaun
Thursday, 1 October 2009, 9:00 pm
The Crowley Theater

Ballroom Marfa is proud to present an intimate performance with Bon Iver on October 1st at the Crowley Theater.

Bon Iver began as a private escape for musician Justin Vernon, former guitarist and vocalist for DeYarmond Edison. A social hibernation at his father’s cabin in rural Wisconsin soon opened a floodgate of creativity that evolved into its own musical entity. Relying simply on his own voice, a Silvertone guitar, his brother’s old drumset, and very few other instruments, Vernon used the basic recording equipment he had on hand to develop a series of lushly layered choral sounds backed by the subtle melodic ebbs of his acoustic guitar.

Vernon’s three-month seclusion lead to the conception of Bon Iver’s debut album, For Emma, Forever Ago, which was entirely self-recorded and released to surprising critical acclaim in the summer of 2007, resulting in the band’s signing with indie label Jagjaguwar.

Bon Iver (pronounced “bohn eevair”) is a phrase taken from the French bon hiver, meaning literally “good winter.” It is a greeting, celebration, and a sentiment embodied by the simultaneous mood of dark isolation and communal warmth evoked on Bon Iver’s tracks. Vernon’s painful falsetto effortlessly swells and fades, becoming both a graceful orchestral component as well as a means of expressing the lonely solitude of the coldest season.

The influence of Vernon’s prior personal history –- the dissolution of his longtime band, the end of a romantic relationship, and a bout of serious illness — are as intertwined with the melancholic vocals and minimalist guitar as is the bleak midwinter setting of its creation. Rolling Stone called the work a “quiet marvel,” and Pitchfork described it as “the sound of a man left alone with his memories and a guitar.”

Bon Iver’s latest release, 2009’s EP Blood Bank, is a four-track collection following in the same vein as Vernon’s first recordings, albeit with the added warmth of additional musicians and instrumental sounds to their former aesthetic of quiet desperation.

Opening for Bon Iver is Durham, North Carolina-based Megafaun, a band born from the ashes of Vernon’s previous venture, DeYarmond Edison. Megafaun has developed a distinctly American musical language that is exquisitely translated by this year’s Gather, Form & Fly. Stereogum described the tracks as “mournful, slow-blooming banjo-and-white-noise-laced epics” culminating in a record that is an ode to death, love, musical history, community, tradition, and experimentation. Megafaun’s live sets promise to deviate from standard musical recitation, infusing the collective spirit of their pieces with spontaneity and group improvisation.

Please join Ballroom Marfa in welcoming Bon Iver and Megafaun on Thursday, October 1, at the Crowley Theater. Doors open at 8 pm and the show starts at 9; tickets are $2 at frontgatetickets.com and at the door.

    This performance has been made possible through the support of the Crowley Theater, The Big Bend Sentinel, Marfa Recording Co., KRTS Marfa Public Radio, and Ballroom Marfa’s Front Row Members.

    In-kind support generously provided by The Hotel Paisano.