Arts District

Bon Iver Mesmerizes Crowd at Merriweather Post Pavilion

Columbia venue continues to impress during its 50th year.

By Jess Mayhugh | May 25, 2017, 11:59 am

-Jess Mayhugh
Arts District

Bon Iver Mesmerizes Crowd at Merriweather Post Pavilion

Columbia venue continues to impress during its 50th year.

By Jess Mayhugh | May 25, 2017, 11:59 am

-Jess Mayhugh

Get Baltimore Daily.

Sign up today and you'll get our latest stories delivered straight to your inbox every weekday afternoon.

This week's rainy, grey weather felt like the ideal backdrop for a performance by indie folk darlings Bon Iver at Merriweather Post Pavilion. Hailing from Wisconsin, the five-piece band is heavily guided by frontman Justin Vernon and is currently on a multi-city American tour promoting its latest album, 22, A Million.

As the band's first album in five years, it's a departure from Vernon's previous work full of acoustic strums and woodsy themes. Instead, his signature falsetto voice is backed by plenty of synth and saxophone. 

The better part of Wednesday night's setlist ran through the tracks of 22, A Million, with a vibrant light show full of religious imagery and words that is certainly an apparent theme in his latest work. Many of these songs—in particular "33 God"—vacillated between haunting simplicity and bold, sonic peaks. 

Vernon broke from the music a few times during the set. First, he promoted his new gender equality campaign, 2 A Million, which is aimed to increase awareness about domestic violence and sexual abuse. The second time, he announced how happy he was to be in Maryland and have his family in the audience. 

As if that triggered instant nostalgia, the latter half of the set was dedicated to his earlier work including "Bracket, WI" and the singularly beautiful "Holocene." But the highlight for many in the crowd, from casual fans to die-hards alike, was his stripped down acoustic version of "Skinny Love," in which his impassioned, undulating voice really shined.

Bon Iver's performance is just one of many that Merriweather can boast this summer, in which national artists are making the Columbia amphitheater their definitive Mid-Atlantic stop. The venue is currently undergoing a $19 million renovation and gearing up for a 50th anniversary concert on July 15.

Read more about the history of Merriweather, including legendary performances by Jimi Hendrix and The Who, in our upcoming June issue

Meet The Author

Jess Mayhugh is the digital editor for Baltimore, where she covers nightlife, sports, food, and events.

You May Also Like

The Chatter

Cardinal Shehan Choir Performance Nominated for Daytime Emmy

The performance on The View with Andra Day and Common is up for an award.

On The Town

Ten Things to Look Out for at the New Hotel Revival in Mt. Vernon

The new 14-story property features private karaoke rooms and panoramic views.

Arts District

Stephen Towns Exhibit Chronicles Rumination and Reckoning at The BMA

Baltimore artist examines slavery’s effect on modern society through a series of quilts that tell the story of Nat Turner.

Arts & Culture

Book Reviews: April 2017

The latest from Susan Weis-Bohlen and Sara Mansfield Taber.

Arts & Culture

Music Reviews: March 2018

The latest from Ed Schrader’s Music Beat and JPEGMAFIA

Arts District

The Big Baltimore Playlist: April 2018

The top five local songs you should download right now.

Connect With Us

Most Read

Maryland-Based Company Captures Milestones with 3D Photography: GoFigure 3D Photography creates lifelike figurines.

The Land of Kush Owners Win Grant to Make Restaurant Cashless : Husband-and-wife team win $10,000 from Visa to help launch strictly digital sale system.

La Calle Bringing Modern Mexican Food Downtown This Summer: Globally influenced cantina set to open inside 10 South Street building near City Hall.

Miss Gay Maryland Pageant Returns for its 34th Year: Drag queens show off personalities and talents in this trailblazing competition.

New Youth-Led Programming Coming to CharmTV: The Avenue will debut on April 21 and feature students discussing topics relevant to Baltimore.