Anyone that likes music, likes Bon Iver. Well, they can at least appreciate the music. If you haven’t heard of Bon Iver, no worries, just click here—and thank me later. Play it for your girlfriend/boyfriend/dog and love will quickly ensue. Anyway, Bon Iver came to town this past week, and, in short, it was solid. Solid aside from the monstrous environ known as Sound Academy. Anyway, the review.

A sold-out Sound Academy is a far cry from an isolated cabin in northern Wisconsin, but it would have to suffice. And suffice it did. But that’s more of a testament to Justin Vernon and Co. than to Toronto’s finest venue (kidding, just kidding). But seriously, Bon Iver, those guys with that brilliantly sad first album recorded in near isolation, were here to impress on Monday night.

One of the summer’s most anticipated shows, which sold out hastily and had scalpers and Craigslisters pushing tickets for $200 a pop, didn’t disappoint. Having been a fan of Bon Iver for a couple years now, I went into this show trying to be skeptical. That was foolhardy. Although I thought there was no way they would be able to transfer the fine intricacies and sound layering of For Emma, Forever Ago or hit the builds and varied arrangements in the more recent Bon Iver, Bon Iver, the set was miraculously sharp. The band was tight, well-practiced and the sound was record-quality. (According to a sign pasted to the front door of the venue, they were videotaping the performance, so it was a good thing they were pitch-perfect.) Vernon remains very much in control of his at-times soaring falsetto fused with a halting baritone. He commands it all effortlessly to boot.

Launching into “Perth” as the opener, I was amused by the number of people around me going: “Jesus, that sounds good,” “They are so good live,” and drunken bros behind me at the bar high-fiving. It was an apt this-will-set-the-tone song that showcases quiet verses that grow into a huge apex, which gestured to much of what the night had in store. Even songs off of For Emma seemed to build and explode out of nowhere. With a nine-piece band that includes two drum sets, a range of horns, strings, synths and guitars, most of the songs included some kind of build. On “Creature Fear,” this soft, stunning song, the band went into stadium mode and ripped into a you-didn’t-see-that-coming conclusion. All I have in my notes is: “Creature Fear. Holy shit.”

Read the rest of the review on blogTO here.

—RYAN BOLTON

Written by Ryan Bolton

Ryan is a Toronto-based writer and photographer that likes to break the rules. His work has taken him around the world to do what he truly loves—storytelling. And drinking cold beer.