Though the moniker’s derived from French, it didn't immediately make much sense that Bon Iver was curating this weekend's Pitchfork Music festival in Paris. Though certainly excited to see them take to the stage Saturday, we weren't so sure we wanted to spend the afternoon listening to what was obstensibly being billed as a live mix-tape of Bon Iver's favorite musicians when we could instead be spending time exploring some of my Parisian favorites like the Rodin museum or the crazy Musée de la Chasse et de la Nature. But within minutes of reaching the grandure of the Grande Hall de la Villette, a slaughter house turned art venue, we were certainly proved wrong. We didn't arrive in Paris until Saturday morning and thus missed all of Friday's performances, but Saturday brought back-to-back great sets. Between Lykke Li, Kathleen Edwards, and Stornaway there wasn't a bad act.
And then there was Bon Iver. For those of you who might have holeheartedly believed the PR spin that this band is just about Justin Vernon (I certainly did), seeing them live will change all that. There were, at a minimum, 10 musicians on stage at any given moment, each commanding the stage with as much presence as the band's frontman. And what's more is that what while so much of Bon Iver's album sounds like it is studio controlled, in actuallty it's not. What you're hearing is raw, incredible manipulation of instruments and voice which amounts to them being one of the best live acts I've ever seen. Really.
NB: We didn't get good video footage from the festival, but found some great live footage from San Diego.com that helps make the point; Bon Iver are amazing live.