And at a sold-out 9:30 Club on Monday night (there is a second sold-out show on Tuesday), Vernon comfortably stepped into the role he will likely hold for a while — blockbuster attraction. Backed by an eight-piece band, Vernon was equal parts frontman and conductor as the dreamy ruminations from "Bon Iver" became full-bodied colossuses without losing any of their intricate charms.
A pair of drummers in each back corner of the stage combined with Colin Stetson's booming bass saxophone to provide a rumbling, low-end foundation. Synthesizers, French horn, trumpet and an array of other instruments added those essential flourishes — sometimes rippling, often rousing. And front and center was Vernon, the unassuming, balding 30-year-old Wisconsinite with a singular falsetto, sharp enough to puncture an imposing wall of sound or magically float above it.
The 16-song, 90-minute set was expertly paced - like many of the evening's songs, there were seratonin rushes tempered with whispering interludes. The selections from "For Emma" were enjoyable but so quaint when placed next to the newer material. A solo version of "re: Stacks" was both a reminder that Vernon can craft a traditional tearjerker with the best of them and that he's evolved so quickly. "Michicant" followed and its gentle, orchestral waves provided the same emotional resonance even though Vernon's falsetto made the words largely indecipherable.