For two hours on Monday night, I believe I was in suspended animation. I was still me (thought about tipping beer on a pusher-in/told a guy to be quiet and called him Corky) but I wasn't; it was like I took a break from myself for a while, and experienced something both as me and as a totally neutral being. That's what I think, anyway, and that was what Bon Iver did to me.
Three hours before, I was looking at Dita von Teese's wedding dress and getting diarrhoea (maybe my body freaking out about the tiny waists of women in the 1800s/Dita von Teese/Gwen Stefani). We'd had a busy day making up things we hadn't done on Sunday because I was bedridden due to Too Much Rum Not Enough Kapow, and then shifting from our beloved five star room to our barely tolerated "four star" room. After we left the exhibition, I sat in a funny bar drinking misspelt margaritas and trying to pretend I didn't feel sick and that I was truly excited about seeing the creator of one of the albums that has most influenced my life. It was a stressful time, and I felt like things could go either way. I needn't have worried.
I started crying almost as soon as the band took the stage. I don't remember what they opened with; when they played Blood Bank, one of my favourites and the song I most wanted to hear, I was so elated I couldn't even remember the words. But I clearly remember the feeling - it was the one I get when I listen to For Emma - like I was being carried. Every single song was so genuinely felt, and so seriously taken, that it was like the best kind of poetry; everything was necessary and also sufficient. The crowd, while it had its moments, was for the most part a completely united body - we were silent, and we were loud, and I didn't feel like I wanted to hug anybody because I felt as if we had experienced exactly the same thing.
I think my highlights were all of the For Emma songs, especially For Emma itself, and Creature Fear, but I can't be sure. I loved every bit of it; the set-up, the two drum-kits (which were - prepare yourself to throw up but it's the only way I can say it - a revelation), and the bit at the end when, instead of rushing off like they couldn't wait to get drunk or to bed, the band lined up and acknowledged the applause we wanted them to have. And then came back on (they had no choice; the call for an encore was immediate and deafening), and smiled while they played For Emma, and then asked us to sing along to The Wolves (Act I and II). I've never felt so appreciated by a band, and even though I always freak out when a band is playing more than one night that I'm missing the best night, I felt like I was supposed to be there, on the first night Bon Iver ever played NZ.
I don't think I've said anything I wanted to, and I don't know if I've made any sense. I just loved it. It couldn't have sounded better, or felt better. Vincent said he couldn't rank Bon Iver, Beirut, and Fleet Foxes (we like to rank things and people; it's fun and sometimes mean). But I think I can. I had so much riding on this gig, and it delivered, and I got to go through all of it with Vincent. Bon Iver is Number One.
Oh jeez, i just found this Bonnie Raitt cover. I have been planning to unleash this song at karaoke for a while, but now I don't think I can do that to it... Bloody hell, Justin.
By the way, the beanie he is wearing here is the very same he was wearing on Sunday night when me and Vincent hung out with him and the rest of the band (through the window, without talking). The Same. I actually took the same jumper I'd been wearing that night with me to the show to make it easier for the band, too, but Vincent and I weren't sure if that would be enough or if we needed pizza as well. Now I think we should have taken pizza; then they definitely would have recognised us and called us up on stage to sing something with them and be their best friends and name their children after us.