This week, DadJovi and I went to the Bon Iver concert. Fun fact: Bon Iver is in no way related, musically or otherwise, to Bon Jovi. So there’s that.
I, of course, know who the band is (and the fact that it’s a they, not a he, as my husband kept saying). We have a couple Bon Iver vinyl records that we play at home but it’s always kind of been background music. To be honest, I haven’t paid much attention to it. There are always other things to do instead, like sweep up dried up Play-Doh for the 654th time that week.
In the days leading up to the show, I started listening to Bon Iver in earnest on Pandora at work. And then I fell asleep on my desk. Don’t get me wrong, it’s great music, with really thought-provoking lyrics and melodies I dig. But man, it can knock you out with its chillness.
But who am I to pass up a night out with my husband, particularly when my mom just happened to be in town the same night as the concert (free babysitting FTW!).
Since the show was at Hard Rock Live at Universal CityWalk, we took advantage of Orlando’s best-kept secret first — the bar at The Palm in Hard Rock Hotel.
From 5 to 7 (and 9 to close), all the appetizers are $5.50 each, down from their usual $11-$13 per plate. So we got four and called it a dinner — crispy blue corn fried oysters (the best of our picks), Prime Steakburger Sliders, Lobster BLT sliders and a charcuterie plate. And there may have been a Captain and Ginger for me. I wasn’t feeling great when we got there. And, of course, instead of, you know, not drinking, I hoped the gingerale would help me feel better. It did, slightly.
So for $38, we had a great dinner and they validated our self parking, which is totally worth going there for. Who wants to do that mile-long walk from the Universal garage? The Hard Rock Hotel is just a short lovely walk from the music venue.
After dinner, it was starting to sprinkle a little, so we decided to take the water taxi over to CityWalk. By the time we got there, it was hardly raining so we decided to head into the store that sells Tommy Bahama clothes and Toms. I still haven’t decided if I want a pair. Their rumored comfort is tempting me, though, no matter how ugly I think most of them are.
That detour was a big mistake, though. When we came out, it started POURING. We ran as well as I could in plastic flip-flops over to the venue (only to see a woman completely wipe out. If it wasn’t so bad it would have been funny but she fell hard). We tried taking refuge in the Hard Rock restaurant because there was a long line at security to get in, but the rain was just not letting up. Eventually, we had to suck it up and get in line.
We got drenched, which was actually pretty fitting, as I tweeted.
We finally made it inside, and like clockwork, the opening act went on at 8 p.m., the time listed on the ticket. Here’s a piece of advice for you regarding Hard Rock — ALWAYS get there at the time when the concert is scheduled to begin. The very first show we went to at Hard Rock was Willie Nelson in 2004 or 2005. The ticket time said 8, for example, and I think we got there at 9, falsely assuming that it was like every other venue in the world. And then we saw one song and Willie waving good-bye.
We’ve been to at least a half-dozen shows there and they’ve always started exactly on time. The most memorable for me was Kings of Leon on Halloween night 2007. It was the first time DadJovi could feel E. kicking. I was about 21 weeks pregnant and the music made her kick like CRAZY.
This time, there was no baby in my belly but I predict the music would have had the opposite effect.
Up first was a group called The Staves. They are three sisters from England and they were pretty adorable. Between songs, they described how they’d always begged their parents to bring them to Orlando to go to Disney (I kept waiting for the Universal officials to give them the boot because they seriously brought up Disney at least five times). One played acoustic guitar, one played a ukelele and the other just sang. My husband kept asking if this girl was in the band:
But The Staves were lovely.
You’re amazed by how close I got to the stage, right? Here they are with one of “the lads” (as they called them) from Bon Iver. Everything they said was charming and lovely.
Musically, nothing they played was ground-breaking (I mean, there were only two instruments), but man could those ladies harmonize. Every song was just like them, lovely. I will definitely be getting some of their music from iTunes. I don’t think they have a record deal yet because the two CDs they were selling at the show only had three songs on each. So you heard it here first — check them out!
During intermission, we checked out the merch table and tried to you know, blend in. But it was hard.
It was quite the contrast show to the Wilco show a couple weeks ago. At one point, DadJovi said to me, “Man, this show makes me realize how old the Wilco show really was. We’re so much older than everyone at this one.”
Oh, sure, there was the occasional person our age or, even more fun, the 50somethings who just want to keep on grooving. We all gave each other the subtle head nod. Mostly, though, it was a young person’s show. They may have had youth on their side but I had my old friend, Bombay Sapphire.
That, my friends, is the actual size of a double gin and tonic. And it was just $8. If you’re only going to have one drink at a show, that’s how it’s done. Take that, whippersnappers. Enjoy your Vitamin Water and clove cigarettes.
Then the lads from Bon Iver stormed the stage. Well, I guess I would say it was more of a saunter than a storm, but all 9 of them took the stage. Yes, 9. Given my limited Bon Iver knowledge, I immediately asked DadJovi, “It’s that big of a band?!?”
Wikipedia He told me, no, there are normally only four members but they’ve brought other musicians out on the road. The more the merrier! OK, maybe not merry. But certainly excellent.
So I know the picture sucks, but you can sort of get the idea of how freaking cool all the electric candelabras were on stage. Their set design and lighting were beautiful.
Given my limited knowledge of their music, I don’t feel qualified to give the show itself a full review. I certainly enjoyed it a lot more than I thought I would. Here’s the thing: I adore an excited and engaged crowd. It’s impossible not to feed off the energy of big fans, and Bon Iver certainly has a rabid fanbase of big fans. The show was as packed as any I’ve ever seen at Hard Rock and there was a lot of singing along to certain songs.
The crowd (understandably) got really excited for “Skinny Love,” and the sea of iPhones came out. Here’s something that happens at every concert — as soon as a band plays one of their better known songs, the phones come out. Usually it’s just to take a picture, not a video. I know it’s just because people are excited but I never understand it — why compete with 1,000 other outstretched phones when you can wait three more minutes and have the shot to yourself? But I digress.
Final verdict? Show was great. And next time, I promise to listen to Bon Iver more diligently before the concert so that I don’t keep saying to DadJovi, “Didn’t we already hear this song?”
Ah, old people. Can’t take us anywhere.
Does chill music relax you or knock you out? And do you want to punch Zooey as much as I do? For once, though, her stupid question actually had merit in Orlando — we all want to know if it’s STILL raining. It hasn’t stopped for a week.