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30 Day Song Challenge #5: A Song That Reminds You Of Someone

[Day 5: A Song That Reminds You Of Someone]

Bon Iver – The Wolves (Act I And II)

My first proper gig was Bon Iver.

I went with one of my best mates at the time, both of us having just turned 18 and neither of us having been to a smaller gig like this before. We were keen as, so figured we’d rock up about 3 hours before doors, which we thought would guarantee us of getting at least a somewhat decent spot.

Of course, we had wildly over-estimated the enthusiasm of everyone else. This was at a time when I thought Bon Iver was just about the greatest thing ever (I still kind of do of course), and I assumed that everyone else would turn up that early as well.

They didn’t, and we were left with three hours to kill before doors even opened. He had driven into the station so wasn’t drinking, so we decided we’d just grab a coffee at a nearby cafe. We bought a crappy pack of Australian souvenir playing cards from one of those horrible stores and played games we invented while at the cafe.

A drunk German couple came up and started talking to us, and we spent a very entertaining hour or so just chatting with them (“I’m sooo wasted, why is it so early?!?”). But then we figured we may as well queue up in front of the venue to ensure a good spot.

Naturally we were the first in line, and the gig was at the HiFi in Melbourne, meaning that the entrance was right on top of a main street. A fuck was not given that night however, because we proceeded to spend the next two hours sitting out front of the venue, legs crossed, playing cards on the sidewalk.

Gradually people started to join the line behind us, and we had a good chat with one guy in particular who showed off about seeing Muse at this small venue back in the day. I was amazed. When doors opened we were the first inside, and as such won some kind of competition that had been running which meant that we got half our ticket price back in cash. Nice.

As the amateurs that we were we decided to sit on the balcony rather than securing a front row spot, but given we had arrived to early it actually wasn’t a bad call. My mate and I were waiting for this song in particular, The Wolves (Act I And II), but it wasn’t played at all in Bon Iver’s main set.

That being said, he was of course fantastic, and it was a purely magical experience. It set the high bar to which I have judged all gigs since. But then it came to his encore, and he began to play this song.

It was one of the most mesmerising experiences of my life. I’m pretty sure I was in a trance for the whole song, only managing to move enough to join the entire crowd in singing, and then screaming, that chorus of “What might have been lost”. It was at the start of a new year, and Bon Iver encouraged everyone to let out their frustration and joy over the last year in our singing, and we did just that. It was a very cathartic and very beautiful shared moment.

My mate and I have kind of drifted apart a bit since that- he joined the army and I went to uni, and he’s out of the state most of the time. But this song always makes me think of him and that moment when we were the first people through the door to Bon Iver’s first ever Victorian show.

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2 Responses to “30 Day Song Challenge #5: A Song That Reminds You Of Someone”

  1. Loving these posts. Maybe I should belatedly join the bandwagon.

    I was a naughty kid and started sneaking into gigs at 16. I remember being really confused when they stamped my hand and the door lady looking at me funny.

    Funnily enough, it’s one of the few venues that ID me now.

  2. You got money back for being first in?! What even… SO JEALOUS.

    I loved Bon Iver live too. He was surprisingly chirpy as a person.

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