Bon Iver have not performed live for three years and there has been plenty of conjecture about the future of the band, but this weekend at Eaux Claires Music Festival the audience were treated to two new tracks. The festival itself is curated by Bon Iver’s Justin Vernon, and The National‘s Aaron Dessner and took place in Vernon’s hometown. There couldn’t have been a more fitting platform for the band to reunite and debut new music.
Both songs are currently untitled and there is little information about where they came from or where they might be headed. In an interview earlier this month Vernon said there were no plans for a new album or a tour after this show. He seemed to be taking a more “in the moment” approach with his comments: “It’s just about, ‘Play the show and put all of our energy into one show’ — for once in my life, let’s just play one fucking show and care just about this one show for a goddamn change…We might play some new stuff. I don’t know, we’re going to figure it out.”
And figure it out they did. The first of the two songs, which you can watch in some audience recorded footage below, starts with some jolted sounds before building to a soaring orchestral high. It aches with all of the freedom and energy Vernon promised, existing and exploding in the moment. The second track is pared down to what we are used to from the band; beautiful harmonies and lots of breathing room. Vernon’s voice climbs and falters in stunning staccato and like Oliver Twist, fans are left wanting more. So much more.
While it sounds like Vernon is shying away from planning for the future, with gems like this in his back pocket, surely a new album can’t be too far away.
Why not get your fix for now by taking a walk down memory lane with our look back at For Emma, Forever Ago.