On Tuesday, November 6th, Shari and I attended our first concert here in Holland. Not knowing what to expect from a Dutch concert, we decided to get there a little early. That turned out to be a most fortunate decision.
I left the apartment around 6:40 to meet Shari at the Bijlmer Arena Metro station near the venue. I sauntered out into the typically dark, wet, and cold Amsterdam evening. I hopped on the train and spent the twenty minute journey trying to stay awake. I had gotten up quite early that morning, and I was definitely feeing the sleepies coming on. Arriving at my destination, I was surprised to see such a large group already assembling for the show. I got off the train and found the wife waiting for me near the exit. We were planning on getting a bite to eat before the show, but finding so many people already filing into the arena, we decided to skip it and head for the show. We entered the Heineken Music Hall and I immediately noticed the differences between Dutch shows and American shows.
1. The crowd was organized, civil, and mostly quiet. (This may be due to the nature of the people that go to Bon Iver Shows.)
2. I immediately noticed that people were enjoying odd drinks. Before seeing anyone with a beer, I saw people drinking champagne, coffee, and Sgroppino.
3. The restrooms were SUPER CLEAN and stayed that way throughout the entire show. No puddles or trash anywhere to be seen.
4. The food was very Dutch and not so good.
5. Any purchases in the arena require tokens that must be purchased at kiosks around the venue. An hour before the show, lines were 3-4 people deep. Thirty minutes later they were 30-40 people deep. Get there early!
6. The venue is all general admission. There are seats at the rear of the arena and a balcony above. The rest of the floor is standing room only. If you are old geezers like Shari and I then you’ll want to get there early to claim a seat or you’ll be standing behind the typically tall Dutchies.
7. While you can naturally purchase food and drinks along the concourse area outside the arena, I was surprised to see that there were two bars inside the show space on either side of the arena. Quite convenient to be able to purchase a drink without missing any of the show.
Now on to the show itself. I like Bon Iver quite a bit, but I must admit, their music can be a little melancholy and has a very strong sedating effect on me. It sort of hits my like a big cup of Sleepy Time Tea. Before the show, I was genuinely concerned that I would be spending the night trying to keep my eyes open. I could not have been more wrong.
The show was absolutely amazing. From the first song until the end of the encore, I was really impressed by how good these guys are. Every single song simultaneously sounded exactly like they do the albums yet entirely new. There was an energy in the live performance that never came across on the albums. Maybe I was never listening to them loud enough. There would be moments in each song that were so quite that you could hear someone in the audience clearing their throat and then seconds later you things would be so amped up that you wouldn’t be able to hear your own thoughts. It was really something to behold. In fact, I was so captivated by the music that I only pulled out my camera once. I took about 20 shots in a row and decided to piece them together. This should give you an idea of how dynamic Bon Iver can really be. Absolutely magnificent.