Bowerbirds and Bon Iver

A sweet summer's night is one that is calm yet fulfilling. The air is light. The moon is bright. In this state one's conscience is satisfied with simplicity.

The third of August was a calm summer's day in Columbus. The evening was also fulfilling for the youthful fellows and girls who spent its late hours at the Wexner Center. These individuals knew a charming summer concert would make this night sweet amongst the days left in the season. That evening the sounds surrendered by Bowerbirds and Bon Iver were more than charming--they were captivating.

Bowerbirds started the quaint show. They seemed to be greeted by a congregation of common friends--confidently dressed in roomy denim and thin cotton--under a soft moon, after a lazy afternoon. Happy excitement covered the walls and reached the ceiling's peak as Phil Moore's quiet guitar and affectionate voice guided the first lines of "Hooves." Beth Tacular's aching accordion and the reflective, homesick lyrics encouraged the audience's comfort with the band. The green landscapes and colorful wildlife of North Carolina were the memories about which they kindly and beautifully sang, and, the audience members were grateful for the memories they thereby gained.

Bon Iver silently sought the same stage moments later. Justin Vernon took his seat after being bountifully recognized by the people who knew the potency of his skills. The chilling lyrics and intuitively expressive guitars he first discovered in the coldest season would result in many goose-bumped forearms on this warm night. As the first sounds of "Flume" were established, Justin's quiet howl crept over sensitive skin, and it continued to build and shrink as the music permeated the corners.

The introspective intensity of Bon Iver's intimate performance was most poignantly felt in "The Wolves (Act I and II)." It was the most emotional, most remarkable song of the night, with all individuals in the space sharing the vocals. "What might have been lost" was repeated and chanted, and the phrase gained candidness and loudness as it progressed. Ears were filled with strained shouts and pounded drums. It was a release--maybe of pain, maybe of joy. Justin Vernon was generous to share his words with his audience.

The night ended with another charming collaboration. The two bands clustered onstage, with a single guitar being stroked by Vernon, to sing a song with which to leave the audience. Harmonies spun a picture of solemn but necessary parting, "Lovin's for Fools," before a final group bow and hug formed the permanent end to the evening. It was sweet.