Imagine: You are innocently enjoying yourself at the Berlin Michelberger Music festival when you are "kidnapped" after a set. A blindfold over your eyes, you are led through winding concrete hallways until you reach a small room. You sit in a chair and a wide, shallow copper bowl is placed over your head. Someone taps on the bowl four times — sending startling reverberations through your head — and then removes it. A voice whispers to you to take off your blindfold. You do and then, surprise! In the center of this small, concrete room, is Justin Vernon. He is holding a guitar and plays you a song.
This strange, yet endearing, scenario happened for real to an audience member at the Michelberger Music Festival, as documented in a video released today. When the mask comes off, you can see the listener's face shift, from guarded discomfort, to mild surprise, to thoughtfulness as she watches Vernon sway through an acoustic version of "8 (circle)" from Bon Iver's latest 22, A Million.
Though the premise comes off as slightly terrifying — getting "kidnapped" at a music festival is definitely a nightmare situation — something makes sense about having Vernon be the prize at the end; only in some secret room, tucked away from outside madness, could someone as elusive as him materialize. And the mysticism in the moment is only further heightened by his voice: husky and thundering, and brought intimately in front of you, as mesmerizing as ever.