Three weeks after Lana Del Rey stunk up the joint with her Brian Williams-panned performance, “Saturday Night Live” righted its musical ship this weekend with a dreamy, horn-filled set from critical darlings Bon Iver.
The Justin Vernon-fronted indie group kicked things off, appropriately, with their Grammy nominated track “Holocene.” Led by Vernon’s falsetto, the song’s repetitive guitar picking and use of horns (sax, french horn, trombone, etc.) for atmospheric effect made for a dream-like experience.
The shy Vernon looked pleased as punch to have command of the “SNL” stage, which comes just a week before he and his band of friends will be up for four Grammys. He told Billboard this week that Bon Iver was asked to perform at the awards show, but only as part of a medley with another artist. They declined.
“We kind of said ‘Fuck you’ a little bit, and they sort of acted like they wanted us to play, but I don’t think they wanted us to play,” he said.
But this week, Vernon had free reign at Studio 8H, which may explain why he chose semi-schmaltzy album closer “Beth/Rest” for the band’s second performance. The 9-piece band went full Bruce Hornsby/Sting/Steve Winwood for the either-you-love-or-hate-it track.
And because “SNL” loves to A) Poke fun at itself and B) Defend its choices, they brought back “Lana Del Rey” during the “Weekend Update” segment. Played by Kristen Wiig wearing a spot-on replica of Del Rey’s dress from the Jan. 14 episode, “Del Rey” reflected on her maligned performance
“That’s what I thought I did Seth, but based on the public’s response, I must have instead clubbed a baby seal while singing the Taliban national anthem.”
She also took issue with criticism related to her name change (“No serious musician would ever change their name. Except for maybe Cher, Sting, Lady Gaga, Jay-Z and of course Bob Dylan.”)
In addition, “Lana” agreed that she indeed defiled a sacred space for music in this country when she stepped foot at 30 Rock. (“The music stage on ‘Saturday Night Live’ is hallowed ground. And I failed to pass the high bar set by past guests… like Bubba Sparxx, The Baha Men and Shaggy.”)