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  • Musician Justin Vernon of Bon Iver performs at The 2009 New Yorker Festival: Justin Vernon of Bon Iver talks with Sasha-Frere Jones at Stage 37 on October 17, 2009 in New York City.
Musician Justin Vernon of Bon Iver performs at The 2009 New Yorker Festival:… (Getty Images )
December 08, 2011|RedEye

This week: Justin Vernon's indie folk act Bon Iver has risen from playing venues like Schubas to playing Chicago Theatre and, on Friday, UIC Pavilion. The group recently received several Grammy nominations, including Best New Artist.

The question: Does all this mainstream success damage Bon Iver's indie cred?


How much street cred can a band really maintain once it's reached stratospheric fame? Sure, Bon Iver is playing to the man (and mainstream fans) with a UIC gig, but what might suffer more is their sound. This certainly isn't a musical experience I'd want to have in a huge venue. In terms of having fame both ways, Bon Iver can learn from Death Cab for Cutie--a band that sold out long ago, but brought me to tears from the intimacy of their Metro concert in May.

--Dana Moran, @redeyedana

Ah, "indie cred." The idea that hardcore music nerd fans will fall away once a band has performed on enough late night TV shows. It's an altogether ridiculous concept—can't everyone just like music because they like it?--but it happens. The band may be reaching a wider audience, but as long as Vernon keeps experimenting and letting Kanye sample his work, I think their "cred" will be fine.

--Emily Van Zandt, @mmxbars

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