June 2, 2009

Review: Grizzly Bear at the 930 Club

“They’ll try to keep us apart / You’ll try to keep us apart,” sang Daniel Rossen in his quivering timbre as the grimy tone of a guitar and crashing cymbals built into a near-violent fury.

From the evening-opening “Southern Point” to the encore-closing “He Hit Me,” Grizzly Bear blew open eardrums with an awe-inspiring mixture of choral music, baroque pop, and crescendos and decrescendos tinged with sadness and a politely delivered ferocity.

The full-capacity crowd bobbed along with Chris Taylor’s booming bass and Chris Bear’s manic drumming—and delivered applause with a lights-out enthusiasm—but during songs the crowd most often stood in a quiet concentration, watching the virtuosic quintet perform like a miniature orchestra: switching instruments (everything from guitar and electric piano to saxophone and autoharp), trading lead vocals, and basking in four-part harmonies as musical styles changed from song to song.

Grizzly Bear drew the majority of the night’s music from Veckatimest, the band’s third LP and one of the year’s most celebrated albums. The record, hardly manageable in its sophisticatedly-constructed and heavily-ornamented 52 minutes, became something different in front of 1,200 fans: accessible. Hard to identify sounds and esoteric lyrics were given shape by the four musicians and personalities working up sweats to expertly and earnestly deliver songs they've played thousands of times before.

Two of the band's most popular tracks, the 50’s barbershop-style and spine-chillingly performed “Knife” and the blissfully-bouncy “Two Weeks,” both came in the first half of the show, leaving a latter half that gave an unexpected but welcome emphasis to the delicate Edward Droste-sung “Foreground” and the rollicking train-like rhythm of “On a Neck, On a Spit.” Always quick to smile and thank the audience (at one point with 930 Club cupcakes), Grizzly Bear left fans with the bittersweet taste of a punch in the face: a cover of the Crystals' Phil Spector-produced "He Hit Me." And yes, it felt like a kiss.

Grizzly Bear - "Knife" (from Yellow House)

Grizzly Bear

1 comment:

  1. leo the lion6/2/09, 12:09 PM

    i'm pretty sure the audience wanted to have their baby last night...in face, i believe someone shouted that out...and ed agreed.