Concert Reviews

Last Night: Grizzly Bear at the Granada Theater

Grizzly Bear, Here We Go Magic
Granada Theater
June 15, 2009

Better than: pretending I wanted room to dance anyway...

There's nothing like a false start to a song to gauge an audience's mood at a concert. Take what happened seven songs into Grizzly Bear's set at the Granada Theater last night, for instance. 

Dan Rossen, seated at his Rhodes piano Wurlitzer, tossed off the first few bars of the single "Two Weeks" before the rest of the band was ready. His bandmates stared him down, but, judging by laughter and applause that erupted in the audience at the hint of the song's arrival, the crowd had long been in the palm of the band's collective hand by the time this miff took place.

But even immediately after opening with a thunderous rendering of "Southern Point" from new release Veckatimest, it was clear from the outset that the indie (now mainstream?) darling band has no problem transitioning the fussy precision of the studio to the stage.

Through a set list (see below) that covered the high points of both the new release as well as 2006's Yellow House, lead vocalists Ed Droste and Rossen were spot on, and the complex harmonies sung by all four members were beautifully rendered.

Live, the band is much more explosive than might be expected from the records, with drummer Chris Bear's propulsive technique and with bassist/reedist Chris Taylor playing often as a lead instrument--not unlike Paul McCartney. Indeed, listening to the meandering instrumentation and harmonization of "Little Brother," it's easy to connect the dots between the Beatles and the musical stylings of Grizzly Bear.

Despite the considerable heat--which was mentioned more than once by the band--Grizzly Bear delivered a mesmerizing, thirteen-song set. And. unlike what has happened at some other performances on the band's summer tour, the band returned for a one-song encore: "Fix It" from first release Horn of Plenty.

But it was well-earned by the adoring crowd. At one point, founder Ed Droste noted that it had been a "long time" since the band last played Dallas, with a stop at Club Dada. Although just a little more than two years removed from that performance, last night's display showed just how far the band has traveled.

Critic's Notebook
Random Note:
A considerable portion of the audience was appreciative that the band Bear delayed starting its set past its original 10:15 p.m. start time. The long and very slow-moving line to get into the venue still had to be dealt with at that point. Ed Droste, the founder of the band and a prolific user of Twitter, tried to reassure the fans stuck in the line with a posting that the band would wait for them.

By The Way: Opening for Grizzly Bear was Here We Go Magic, another Brooklyn band that featured five-part harmonies and songs that seemed to focus much more on the musical journey, rather than reaching a particular destination. While the sound mix did not benefit them, their performance held the attention of an audience clearly there for Grizzly Bear.

Set List:

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Doug Davis