James Blake (9/21/11) & Bon Iver (9/22/11)


James Blake, Great American Music Hall (9/21/11)

I had some awesome back to back concert experiences recently: James Blake at the Fillmore (9/21/11) and Bon Iver at the Greek (9/22/11).

Both artists have similar artistic temperaments, ┬áspecializing in songs that tug on your heart’s memory, but with different musical styles: James Blake relies on computer-based sounds, while Bon Iver has a more organic, woodsy approach.

At the James Blake show, opener Teengirl Fantasy let me experience some true dubstep (which I totally had to look up, old person that I am – it’s basically electronic dance music from London). They made LOUD and POWERFUL sounds come from their computers and drum sets, and even if it was entirely my scene, it was a good preview for what came next.

Blake is a rather unassuming presence – his striped shirt and sideways (Bieber?) hair make him seem like a recovering art student. But his voice? Even as he proclaimed to be sick, it hit the highs and held the lightness of an Antony.

The highlights for me were “To Care (Like You)” and “Limit To Your Love,” during which Blake recorded live samples that he looped, including the whoops from the crowd. In between the intense light show and the wall of noise, it was a show that really swept me away.

Bon Iver at the Greek was a different story. We got there too late for the opener, and it was at the Greek, which is outdoors and huge (also, trivia: where I had my English graduation). It was hard to find a seat, as the picture below attests.

Justin Vernon, the man behind the band, came to (relative, indie music status) fame with 2007’s For Emma, Forever Ago. Legend quickly established that he wrote it after a devastating heartbreak in a cabin in Wisconsin. Somehow the music-listening public erupted in sympathy and understanding.

With this year’s Bon Iver, Vernon’s sound became bigger, and this was evident by how big his touring band is. I love the epic, Peter-Gabriel-Genesis “Holocene” and “Flume.” Having the entire auditorium erupt in the encore “Skinny Love” was awesome, but I do feel sad that I missed the time when I would have seen this talented artist on a smaller stage.

Bon Iver @ Greek Theatre (9/22/11)

Want more?

Check out the collaboration between James Blake and Bon Iver, “Fall Creek Boys Choir”!