Bon Iver: Full Concert | NPR MUSIC FRONT ROW

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On Dec. 4, just before Bon Iver took the stage at Pioneer Works, an old ironworks warehouse turned nonprofit arts and culture space, these prophetic words from Union Army officer Sullivan Ballou echoed off the Civil War-era brick walls:

“Sarah, my love for you is deathless, it seems to bind me to you with mighty cables that nothing but Omnipotence could break; and yet my love of Country comes over me like a strong wind and bears me irresistibly on with all these chains to the battlefield.”

A week after writing those lines, Ballou was mortally wounded, dying for a cause in which he firmly believed.

At first, these words struck me as disconnected from the evening’s music. Bon Iver’s new record, 22, A Million, feels so distant from the Civil War and the words of Sullivan Ballou. But there’s a very real kinship between the letter and this band. Believing in what you do is essential to Justin Vernon and the music he creates for Bon Iver, and impermanence and duality are prevailing themes of this album.

So, here in Brooklyn, at Pioneer Works, a space Vernon believes in and actively assists as a member of the Advisory Board, he and his team created a very special evening — a transcendent night of voices masked, faces hidden in darkness and a performance aimed at soul-searching and purpose over pop and stardom.

This music was performed by a powerful big band, with two drummers and a sax ensemble backing upfront processed sounds, like vocal alterations and sampling, alongside electric and acoustic guitars. It was a visionary performance, fit perfectly to brilliant lighting and sound, seemingly executed down to fine detail by a guy in a Tipitina’s T-shirt, loose pants and high-tops: unassuming, seemingly uncaring, but most certainly in control.

-Bob Boilen


0:16 10 d E A T h b R E a s T ⚄ ⚄
2:59 33 ‘GOD’
6:45 Heavenly Father
10:50 29 #Strafford APTS
15:34 Beach Baby
18:33 666 ʇ
23:43 715 – CRΣΣKS
26:20 Calgary
31:01 22 (OVER S∞∞N)
34:44 8 (circle)
40:54 Minnesota, WI
48:13 ____45_____
54:15 Creature Fear
1:00:35 00000 Million


Justin Vernon: vocals, guitar, keys, processing; Andrew Fitzpatrick: guitar, processing, vocals; Michael Lewis: bass, synth-bass, saxophone, vocals; Sean Carey: drums, keys, vocals; Matt McCaughan: drums, vocals; Nelson Devereaux: saxophone; Stephanie Wieseler: saxophone; Dustin Laurenzi: saxophone; Chris Thompson: saxophone; Cole Pulice: saxophone.


Michael Brown: production designer; Chris Messina: studio/stage manager.


Director: Colin Marshall; Producers: Colin Marshall, Benjamin Naddaff-Hafrey; Executive Producer: Anya Grundmann; Audio Engineer: Xandy Whitesel (from the Bon Iver crew); Technical Director: Josh Rogosin; Editors: Nickolai Hammar, Cam Robert; Videographers: Nicole Conflenti, Kara Frame, Nickolai Hammar, Claire O’Neill, Chris Parks, Cam Robert, Maia Stern. Special Thanks: Pioneer Works, The Bowery Presents, Jagjaguwar, Middle West, Shore Fire Media, Bon Iver Band & Crew.

NOTE: The audio provided to NPR for “10 d E A T h b R E a s T ⚄ ⚄” includes a brief portion of the audio from a subsequent Pioneer Works concert to correct for a technical error at the Dec. 4 show.

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22 Responses

  1. Jordan Dudenhoeffer says:

    still back listening, still back commenting, still perfection, still revolutionary genius, still thriving with goosebumps once again…

  2. 맨두맨 says:

    i still watching this …. thanks npr

  3. Michael Dey says:

    Speaking as a performing musician…
    …that headphone cable on my wrist would annoy the fuck out of me.

  4. Fiki Firmansyah says:

    Lagunya menyentuh hatiku yg terdalam. Thanks bon iver. Such wonderful peformance

  5. Mandy Rarsh says:

    i have no words for this…i would like to hate it..i am atroll…but it hits me right between the nuts…this is the greatest live performace i ever was a part of
    via youtube….

  6. Daniel Jaek says:

    Daniel Jaek

  7. Clemens Staudinger says:

    I… can't… stop… listening….

  8. MuchObliged TV says:


  9. Jack Humphreyson says:

    I hit the like button so hard it created a black hole

  10. Mike Dang says:

    Many of these sound better than the studio recordings of the songs on 22 a million

  11. Max Gallardo says:

    23:44 best song ever

  12. Jules Sutton says:

    Nice lighting, nice set, nice mixing…….shame the songs are just a bit boring.

  13. Kiddowesth says:

    This concert has been going non-stop for the last 2 weeks since I saw them live in Copenhagen. Something about their live versions that highlight certain parts that are low in the studio mix. Not a complaint but nice with variation. Life is good.

  14. Phillip DiRenzo says:

    their music speaks volumes man, kills me every time

  15. Austin Vance says:

    This version of 666 ʇ is the greatest

  16. D Max says:

    Clicked to see what the fuss was about and stayed an hour. Couldn't put my finger on it exactly, but 'ambient electro indie pop' is as close to what this band sounds like to me. It just fills you up and makes you float away. Rich creamy dreamy sounds, production is fantastic.

  17. whatafly80sguy says:

    I maintain that this is the best video on YouTube.

  18. Josh Kitch says:

    22, A Million is such a gorgeous album; the other two were great too but I always felt there was something missing. After Justin helped Kanye with MBDTF and Yeezus, they both traded some very interesting and envelope pushing experimental sound. This is Bon Iver’s ‘Yeezus’: a glitchy, technologically simple and extravagant master piece.

  19. Ivan Khoma says:

    sounds amazing

  20. pablo ferre says:

    Increible creación.

  21. Laurie Mathus says:

    Wow, an American crowd that managed to shut the fuck up for a performance. And what a performance it was.

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