Bon Iver, Hipster Doofus


Who is Bon Iver? The name originally referred to a band, I guess in the same way Nine Inch Nails referred to a "band," but since hitting it big, it's mostly just a nickname for frontman and songwriter Justin Vernon, who, depending on who you ask, may be either Jesus or the Antichrist.

Consulting my handy pocket-Book of Revelation (also featuring a novelization of The Prophecy starring Christopher Walken), it did say that the second coming of Christ would be preceded by a false messiah, the Antichrist himself putting one over on the world. Personally, I haven't seen a false folk Jesus get disproved yet, so Vernon just might be the bearded soft-rock/indie-folk Satan.

Bon Iver at the 2009 Austin City Limits Music Festival, long before the Grammys.
Mark C. Austin
Bon Iver at the 2009 Austin City Limits Music Festival, long before the Grammys.
Ben Folds tickles the ivories.
Craig Hlavaty
Ben Folds tickles the ivories.

Personally, I don't believe Vernon is either. I think Vernon, Bon Iver — or Bonny Bear, Ron River, however you want to refer to him — is just, in the words of Mr. T, a fool.

He epitomizes all the worst aspects of hipsterdom and makes anyone retch whose goal in life isn't to live in an isolated cabin in the woods wearing plaid shirts and playing a banjo. Why do I think this about him?

One only need browse the headlines about him since he became famous by winning the Best New Artist Grammy this year.

The indie lifestyle is all about that cabin in the woods. It's DIY. It's reconnecting with the Earth and being a modern hippie and riding a fixed-gear around the city streets just to spurn man's overreliance on cars. It's eating food from a co-op and playing guitar for pennies on the street corner, not for people's acceptance and love, not for money, not for fame and especially not for Grammy Awards.

Oh wait, until you get nominated for one. Yeah, never mind, the Grammy Awards are only bad when they're honoring people you don't like. When they're honoring you yourself, they're totally mega-awesome.

At least, that's the way Bon Iver felt about it, changing his tune in a matter of days from saying, "We should not be gathering in a big room and looking at each other and pretending this is important," to a tweet saying, "whats the difference between song and record?! ahhH! super weird butterflies! thank's y'all."

Then he licensed out his image and songs for Grammy promos, which he later denounced because he's not in the business of selling his music, although you can totally buy his albums at Target.

But then, when asked to do a collaboration with another artist (a time-honored tradition at the Grammy Awards), Bon Iver said "Fuck you" to the Grammys. Oh so punk.

Blow Up Your Video

The Best Steampunk Songs

1. Abney Park, "Sleep Isabella": You could argue that Abney Park is the musical embodiment of steampunk. Formerly the band was just a group of more conventional goths out of Seattle, but their reimagining into a steampunk dynamo has made them a highly popular carnival act. If it was good enough for HBO's True Blood, it should be good enough for you.

2. Lovett, "Eye of the Storm": When noted film composer Ben Lovett put out an album, one of the people he invited to the listening party was an old college friend named Christopher Alender. Alender was blown away by "Eye of the Storm," and collaborated with Lovett on a music video inspired by the Academy Award-nominated short film "The Mysterious Geographic Explorations of Jasper Morello." The result is, bar none, of the most beautiful things ever put on the Internet.

3. Les Rita Mitsouko, "Cool Frenesie": If you took high-school French in the past 20 years, then at some point your teacher played "Marcia Baïla" from Les Rita Mitsouko's second album for you. Some 15 years later, the duo put out this amazing single, about what amounts to a steampunk Tank Girl taking out giant Cybermen...basically French-frying pop-culture cult icons from two different nations at once.

4. Escape the Clouds, "Every Storm Has an End": Escape the Clouds is much more of an amalgam of traditional storytelling and music than traditional pop, so they lose a few points in the being-catchy department. Still, as far as musical short films go, "Every Storm Has an End" is up there with the best. Jef With One F

Live Shots

Ben Folds Five at Bayou Music Center

In the recent rash of rock reunions this past year, it was perhaps the reuniting of Ben Folds, Robert Sledge and Darren Jessee that was the most warranted and most fully realized.

After years as a solo act, piano man Folds and his Chapel Hill, North Carolina, brethren found themselves in a studio after more than 12 years of silence, making a new album, The Sound of the Life of the Mind, and recapturing the jazz, rock and lo-fi elements that made them so special in the '90s.

Last Tuesday's Bayou Music Center set reaffirmed the credentials of the BF5 while not devolving into a nostalgic victory lap. Folds solo was fun, but Folds with Sledge and Jessee is too much fun.

It doesn't hurt that they returned with a decent album, either, which isn't something most rock reunions can say.

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