In 2011 I heard Holocene and fell in love. I was, typically, a few years behind the rest of the world, but I eventually discovered Bon Iver.
On the back of the release of their second, self-titled studio album the band toured Australia and I wanted to go see them. Not quite understanding their popularity, I was surprised when tickets to their Adelaide show were sold out in a heartbeat.
One day a work colleague of mine asked me if I had any gigs coming up. I didn’t but said I was keen to see Bon Iver and if he knew of anywhere to get a ticket from could he please keep me in mind? Well, he did keep me in mind and I got what I, rightly or wrongly, proclaim to be the last ticket in town. (I’ve always been an embellisher!)
That March night in 2012 at Thebarton Theatre was a night unlike any other, it is a night that to this day remains at the forefront of my memories. What was experienced, the raw emotion of it was unexpected and spectacular. I have never in my life experienced live music like I did that night. I have never been so consumed by music as I was that night. I have never openly wept at gig like I did that night. It was, quite simply, the single greatest live music experience of my life.
Bon Iver dropped off the scene after touring that album, and except for a song here and there, and a handful of live shows in random places nothing was heard of them for over 4 years. Until the announcement of Cercle.
Cercle was a new performance created by Justin (Vernon who is Bon Iver) which showcased a stripped back performance of Bon Iver songs in the round. It was coming to Sydney’s Vivid Festival for its world premiere for four nights only. I had to go.
The debacle that was tickets sales for this event was enough to make a nation cry, or at least cry “no fair” which a lot of us did, and still are. Between the Sydney Opera House website crashing to Ticketmaster’s last minute change of ticket sale times to scalpers reselling tickets at four times sale value before tickets went on sale to the general public I was sure I would be missing out on this once (four times?) in a lifetime experience. I figured if I was going to miss out, I was going to die fighting a good fight.
I did miss out on tickets via both the pre-sale and general sale and I did give up.
A couple of weeks later a friend told me about the wait list which Vivid had set up for Bon Iver and New Order, who were also subject to the same ticketing issues. The premise was simple: put your name on the waitlist and if you were lucky enough to get a link sent to you on 26 April 2016 you would be allowed to buy a maximum of two tickets. My elation when I received the link on 26 April 2016 was only surpassed by my excitement of getting a ticket. One solitary ticket.
So on 28 May 2016 I flew to Sydney to see Bon Iver.
I could give you a blow by blow detail of the show, my excitement, my nervousness, the playlist, the lighting, but I won’t because the truth of the matter is I genuinely feel there are no words to justify what I experienced. That band, in that venue, was simply perfect. What I experienced in 2012 at Thebby Theatre was not only matched by the performance last Saturday night, but it was surpassed. It was the ultimate journey of emotions. I cried, I smiled, I laughed, I cheered, I wept, I sobbed and I came out the other end feeling enlightened. No other artist can do that to me or for me.
Bon Iver is music that speaks to the deepest elements of your soul, and to Justin I offer my sincerest thanks for this and for allowing me to be a part of music history.