LIVE: Bon Iver, Other Lives at Spreckels Theatre
Being the opening band has its challenges natively, and as the sole introductory act to Bon Iver, in a theatrical setting with three audience tiers, it doesn't get much more dramatic than this. Thankfully for everyone, the performance by Other Lives couldn't have been more in tune with the audience at hand. The Oklahoma-based five piece steadily pushed through a 23 minute set, pulling listeners new to the band in a Fleet Foxes/The War On Drugs direction, but definitely not a cookie cutter of either, and distant enough from the live Bon Iver sound. Few ticket holders, if any, checked their watch during Other Lives' performance, which wasnt their first in San Diego (they performed at the Casbah in June.) Afterwards in the intermission, this writer overheard three different conversations that lavished praise on Other Lives, if that speaks anything. When they return again to San Diego, expect that many in attendence during both Friday and Saturday shows will seek them out.
Saturday, September 17 2011 Bon Iver set list
Following a late dinner and round of drinks at Dobson's Bar and Restaurant (a nod to the bartender for recognizing the headlining band and offering a round of shots, accepted by a few members), Bon Iver took to the stage promptly at the same time as the night before (9:30pm). A stage even at this magnitude looks immediatley packed with nine members and their accompanying instruments; it doesn't help when you introduce some brass and dueling drum footprints. The 30 year old folk singer/songwriter Justin Vernon took an uncompromising spot front and center, sparing little time in between the hour-long set for banter. Vernon paused only a few times between songs to allow for instrument restructuring, thanked the audience for coming out, thanked Other Lives, and requested audience participation for "Wolves."
Tonight's setlist closely mimicked Friday; in order, they were Perth, Minnesota WI, Calgary, Towers, Blood Bank, Beach Baby, Hinnom TX, Wash, Holocene, RE: Stacks, Creature Fear, Flume, Beth/Rest, For Emma, Skinny Love and Wolves.
More often than not, songs intertangled each other, infused with full on jams and solo violin performances. Like Friday, the Saturday Bon Iver set consisted of fourteen songs, and a two song encore. Originally a single show, after the immediate sellout for Friday, Bon Iver management had added Saturday to the list. The Saturday crowd was clearly younger than Friday, perhaps a testament to the youthful slacking of said-age group, whose demand resulted in a Saturday show. The above video and photo gallery are from Saturday.
If you're reading this review, you likely know what Bon Iver is about. Make the effort to see this band live; it's better, a truly unforgettable experience. Additional thanks goes to Tim Mays of The Casbah, for helping bring consistently good and diverse acts like Bon Iver to the usually forgotten tour city of San Diego.
For more on Bon Iver, visit their website at boniver.org. You can learn more about Other Lives at otherlives.com