“There’s nothing strange about this at all,” said Bon Iver’s Justin Vernon on Friday night at 9:30 p.m. while surveying the scene from center stage inside Hollywood Park’s intimate YouTube Theater. It’s never odd to experience a sold-out Bon Iver show, but the frontman was referencing the uniqueness of the night in that it was the band’s first show amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Because of that, there was a lot of gratitude swirling about in the new venue, both from Vernon and from the band’s diehard fans. “We love you very much,” he said to the crowd to wild cheers and applause. “Thanks for joining us. I don’t know what to say — there’s nothing to fucking say. Just mucho, mucho appreciation.”

The concert hosted some starry bold-faced names in Brad Pitt and Billie Eilish who, like the rest of the attendees, were able to not only hear his compliments but also experience a one-of-a-kind immersive show thanks to L-Acoustics. The audio specialists, well-known in the music business for work at Hollywood Bowl, Coachella, Lollapalooza, etc., collaborated with Bon Iver to create a custom sound experience for YouTube Theater, which hosted the band Friday and Saturday nights. Dubbed L-ISA Hyperreal Sound, it featured ultra-high-resolution spatial audio that created for an immersive experience during which every instrument and vocal could be heard.

The acoustics proved to be a perfect match for Bon Iver’s setlist, designed to honor the 10-year milestone of the band’s self-titled album, something Vernon noted during his casually cool remarks over the course of the night. “I’m going to tell you, it’s been a week of celebrating. We’ve just been sitting around celebrating all day, every day,” joked Vernon as he was joined onstage by bandmates Sean Carey, Jenn Wasner, Mike Lewis, Matt McCaughan and Andy Fitzpatrick. “No, but we really do appreciate it. That album is only 10 songs, so we’re going to play a bunch of other songs, too.”

He made good on that promise as the band stretched their talents over a 23-song set (seen in full below) that was complemented by the audio as well as visual treats in a vibrant light display to match the mood of each song.

Speaking of mood, Vernon also circled back to his earlier statement about the strangeness of the night by referencing life amid a pandemic. After asking the audience if they thought of anything good during the pandemic, he offered his own philosophical questions: “What’s a music concert like? Why? Why anything?”

Courtesy of L-Acoustic/Matthew John Benton

Bon Iver’s full setlist for Oct. 22, 2021 at YouTube Theater in Los Angeles

“Minnesota, WI”
“715 Creeks”
“Heavenly Father”
“Hinnom, TX”
“U (Man Like)”
“33 GOD”
“Blood Bank”
“Skinny Love”

In other Bon Iver news, the band announced their return to the road with a full slate of 2022 tour dates at such venues as Forest Hills Stadium in New York, Ascend Amphitheater in Nashville and two nights at Austin’s Moody Amphitheater with support from Dijon and Bonny Light Horseman. The full lineup, which kicks off in March, can be found here.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *