It’s been nearly three years since local-favorites-turned-Grammy-nominees Bon Iver have played a show in their hometown of Eau Claire, but on December 12th and 13th, the band took to UW-Eau Claire’s Zorn Arena for two sold-out shows. Thousands of fans – many of whom camped overnight and waited for hours in sub-freezing temperatures for tickets – were finally able to welcome the band back from their latest European tour, and easily filled the 3,500 capacity venue.
The show was opened by Lianne La Havas, a Londoner who warmed up the crowd with a solo set of mellow, soulful folk – sounding a bit like if Feist had grown up listening to 90’s R&B instead of Joni Mitchell. Her endearing onstage banter effortlessly won over the crowd, which rewarded her performance with a full standing ovation – a rare show of appreciation for an opening act.
Soon after, Bon Iver took to the stage, greeted by a roaring crowd, eager to hear their city’s best known musical export on home-turf. The band started the set with the crystalline lead guitar and marching band snare of Bon Iver opener “Perth”, slowly building up to the visceral riff-pounding bridge before morphing into “Minnesota, WI” and the austere “Holocene”. The rest of the show featured a very solid setlist, which drew heavily from the band’s Grammy-nominated sophomore effort, Bon Iver, but also featured several standouts from their breakthrough For Emma, Forever Ago. Personal favorites – so hard to choose, everything was incredible – were “Creature Fear”; Justin Vernon’s solo performance of the transcendent “Re: Stacks”; the aforementioned opening quartet of songs, the awesomely fuzzy, rocked out “Blood Bank; and the unparallelled catharsis of show-closer “Wolves” (full setlist after photos).
Click photos to view.
Photographs by Zachary Oliphant
Setlist: 1. Perth 2. Minnesota, WI 3. Holocene 4. Towers 5. Michicant 6. Creature Fear 7. Hinnom, TX 8. Wash. 9. Flume 10. Blood Bank 11. Re: Stacks 12. Skinny Love 13. Calgary 14. Lisbon, OH (w/ Michael Perry) 15. Beth/Rest Encore: 1. For Emma 2. Wolves