Festival Review: Heineken Open’er // Gdynia, Poland // 5 July 2012 // Day 2: Bon Iver and Justice

Thursday was a day I had been looking forward too for a long time. I finally got to see what must be one of my top 5 artist my dear old Bonnie Bear.

You all should be aware of my admiration for Bon Iver and Justin Vernon – the only man to beat all my insomnia. There is something so completely indescribably pure, genuine and touching to his music that makes all else stop when I listen to it. And of course with such high expectations it’s difficult to be satisfied by a performance. But more than blown away I was. Bon Iver’s self titled new album is more complex than the first and this means he no longer performance just by himself (as he started off with) or with his 1-3 accomplices (Sean Carey who approached him after a show and volunteered his services, Michael Noyce his old guitar student and Matthew McCaughan who he met on tour with The Rosebuds) as later on but with a full fledge band of about 8-10 people with him.

I think this was very fitting considering he was on the main stage of at least 60k people concert at prime time. The stage was set with cloth falling from the ceiling creating an earthy feel.

But the earth I left when he started singing. I had tears in my eyes during the whole concert and down my cheeks they rolled during the piano intense Wash. (my favourite).  The most striking thing about his voice is his range: he can sing as deep as a bear (Hinnom, TX) and then as high as a 5 year old girl (Holocene) all with perfect pitch and enchanting tone.  It amazes me how he can enter the heart of everyone in the crowd and make you feel like that performance is just for you while you are surrounded by thousands of people. The only thing that confused me is why he decided the perform what can only be a big mistake of a Phil Collins feel Beth/Rest. But hey that’s long forgiven/forgotten.

As he left the stage for the first time the whole crowd went crazy in demand for his most famous single Skinny Love. Not only did he return to play this but he followed it with the almighty build up of Wolves (Act I and II). Before he started he tought the crowd the closing refrain of What might have been lost and encouraged us to sing along. And as the calm song started nice and slow and started to grow we all waited for our time to chip in. Under his guidance we started softly and repeated the refrain louder and louder and louder until the whole sky shook with music and the song broke. And that is how he left us.

The man is my muse. And he will always be. And when I was lifted on shoulders to see the entire crowd, there was no doubt that he had not calmly, beautifully touched the sea of people all around me for as far as I could see.

I cannot wait to go see him in a dedicated concert in Lyon on the 30th of July. I think it’s an understatement to say that I recommend it to all. It’s a crime that there are still tickets.

Then what a contrast as we got ready to rock for Justice. What newspaper reported as the most anticipated act of the festival.

And of course they lived up to it. They jammed the entire stage. We all jumped like maniacs, got caught in numerous marsh pits, and generally destroyed our feet (thank goodness for the Wellies). One word about marsh pits in Poland. Wanna be cool teenagers often create a small circle of space and then push and force it out to a huge size. They then walk around trying to look impressive while we are all squished back and when the music breaks into a big beat everyone (read guys) goes nuts and jumps into it. I don’t know if it’s a Polish thing – but it’s the first that I had seen of it. check it out yourself (you want to pay attention at 1:50 when the whole circle breaks):

Anyways the lighting was incredible – same set up as in Paris. However I must say that although the atmosphere of some odd 60k people jumping to the music could not be beat, musically they were not on the level of Paris.

I think it was their first time in Poland and I guess they did not expect the audience to be at the same electro music pallet level of the Frenchies. Their set in Paris was made for their hard-core fans – that could easily digest two to three of their songs playing on top of each other for the entire set. Here the mixes were more simple and clean, the tunes more digestible. Of course I enjoyed it but it left me wanting more after the stellar of a performance I had experience in Paris a few months back.

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