Pixel Tracker

Monday, December 17 , 2018, 7:49 am | Overcast 53º


Bon Iver Gives Powerful, Emotional Performance at Santa Barbara Bowl

Frontman Justin Vernon's introspective vocals enchanted the audience


Bon Iver performed an eerie, enchanting set at the sold-out Santa Barbara Bowl on Wednesday. The show was emotionally powerful, leaving audience members stunned. 

Bon Iver is an indie band founded by Justin Vernon, the lead singer and main songwriter.

The band’s debut album For Emma, Forever Ago, was recorded after Vernon spent a winter in solitude in his father’s hunting cabin. Since then, Bon Iver has been known for the band’s emotionally introspective sound.

The opening act was Perfume Genius, which started playing at 7 p.m. as audience members were still filing in. Perfume Genius is the alter ego of Mike Hadreas, a Seattle-based indie pop singer.

The set did help set up Bon Iver rather well. Though Perfume Genius did not have quite the same emotional intensity as Bon Iver, audience members were drawn in by the the band’s music, which alternated between blissful and anguished.

The most memorable part of the set was Hadreas’s flamboyant dancing, which at times seemed more like interpretative dance than anything you’d expect from a rock band frontman.

Bon Iver took the stage at 8:15 p.m. as the sun was setting, and the band preceded to give a spellbinding performance as the night set in.

Vernon’s voice is powerfully mesmerizing even without the use of vocal effects.

In concert, Vernon often takes advantage of The Messina, a piece of equipment made by his engineer Chris Messina, which is capable of harmonizing instruments and vocals.

concert Click to view larger
Justin Vernon of Bon Iver performs Wednesday at the Santa Barbara Bowl. (Matthew John Benton photo)

The resulting sound is a unique mix that is between the rough soul of folk music and the digital futurism of auto-tune. Audience members have the opportunity to witness past and future colliding into something entirely new and hauntingly beautiful.

Bon Iver’s music was supported by minimalist, surrealist visuals. The lighting choices accentuated the emotion of the songs flashing during moments of turmoil and turning off in moments of introspection.

Vernon took a break between songs to speak in support of Standing Together to End Sexual Assault (STESA), a private nonprofit based in the Santa Barbara area formerly known as the Santa Barbara Rape Crisis Center.

According to the STESA’s website, the organization is “committed to empowering survivors and eliminating all forms of sexual violence in our community.” Vernon encouraged audience members to take the time to visit the organization’s booth set up at the Bowl and to donate money.

The Santa Barbara show at the Bowl was Bon Iver’s last scheduled solo stop in the United States this year.

The band will be performing at Outside Lands festival in San Francisco this weekend before heading off to Europe in October. 

Noozhawk intern Dhiraj Nallapaneni can be reached at [email protected]. Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkSociety, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Become a fan of Noozhawk on Facebook.

Support Noozhawk Today

You are an important ally in our mission to deliver clear, objective, high-quality professional news reporting for Santa Barbara, Goleta and the rest of Santa Barbara County. Join the Hawks Club today to help keep Noozhawk soaring.

We offer four membership levels: $5 a month, $10 a month, $25 a month or $1 a week. Payments can be made using a credit card, Apple Pay or Google Pay, or click here for information on recurring credit-card payments and a mailing address for checks.

Thank you for your vital support.

Become a Noozhawk Supporter

First name
Last name
Select your monthly membership
Or choose an annual membership

Payment Information

Membership Subscription

You are enrolling in . Thank you for joining the Hawks Club.

Payment Method

Pay by Credit Card:

Mastercard, Visa, American Express, Discover
One click only, please!

Pay with Apple Pay or Google Pay:

Noozhawk partners with Stripe to provide secure invoicing and payments processing.
You may cancel your membership at any time by sending an email to .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

  • Ask
  • Vote
  • Investigate
  • Answer

Noozhawk Asks: What’s Your Question?

Welcome to Noozhawk Asks, a new feature in which you ask the questions, you help decide what Noozhawk investigates, and you work with us to find the answers.

Here’s how it works: You share your questions with us in the nearby box. In some cases, we may work with you to find the answers. In others, we may ask you to vote on your top choices to help us narrow the scope. And we’ll be regularly asking you for your feedback on a specific issue or topic.

We also expect to work together with the reader who asked the winning questions to find the answer together. Noozhawk’s objective is to come at questions from a place of curiosity and openness, and we believe a transparent collaboration is the key to achieve it.

The results of our investigation will be published here in this Noozhawk Asks section. Once or twice a month, we plan to do a review of what was asked and answered.

Thanks for asking!

Click Here to Get Started >

Reader Comments

Noozhawk is no longer accepting reader comments on our articles. Click here for the announcement. Readers are instead invited to submit letters to the editor by emailing them to [email protected]. Please provide your full name and community, as well as contact information for verification purposes only.