Ecstatic applause echoed through Manhattan’s Town Hall when the four members of Grizzly Bear walked onstage last night. The cheers got louder as singer/guitarist Edward Droste greeted them with a simple “Good evening” a moment later. And when, next, the band played the opening notes of “Southern Point,” the crowd went wild all over again. Grizzly Bear has been the kind of band that inspires such rapturous adoration among its fans (who most definitely include yours truly) for some time now. Last night, though, we had more occasion to applaud than usual. This past Tuesday marked the release of Veckatimest, Grizzly Bear’s third full-length release and my personal odds-on favorite for album of the year. The band has been playing some of the songs on Veckatimest in concert for well over a year, but now that this quite deservedly hyped-beyond-hype album is actually in stores, something felt different. Grizzly Bear has reached a peak in its career to date, which makes its three sold-out shows this week in the band’s home base of New York City something like a victory lap. Read on after the jump for my review of last night’s show, plus a full set list.
I’ve seen enough Grizzly Bear shows by now — this was either my seventh or eighth time since 2005 — to know what I should expect. They still find ways to surprise and impress me every time. Droste, singer/guitarist Daniel Rossen, singer/multi-instrumentalist Chris Taylor, and singer/drummer Chris Bear never stop honing their individual chops. Any one of them could be the breakout star of another band; when they perform together these days, the effect is that of a supergroup. (I could keep rhapsodizing for hours on the intricate sonic details and dynamics those four somehow manage to recreate in a live setting, so I’ll stop myself here.) One extra treat: Last night they were joined on four songs by the Acme String Quartet, who added a lovely light-filled layer to Grizzly Bear’s sound. David Letterman, who had to cancel a planned quartet-assisted performance by the band last week, doesn’t know what he was missing.
Grizzly Bear is heading out after this weekend on a North American tour that runs through late July. If you like art-rock, vocal harmonies, emotionally powerful songwriting, or, speaking a bit more generally, things that are utterly awesome, you should probably try to get a ticket to the date that’s nearest you. What you’ll hear is the sound of a young band living up to and well past its wildest potential. In the meantime: Were any of you at either of Grizzly Bear’s Town Hall shows this week, or are you planning to see them soon? What were your favorite moments?
“Fine For Now”
“Ready, Able” *
“I Live With You” *
“While You Wait for the Others”
“On a Neck, on a Spit”
Encore: “All We Ask” (acoustic)
* = with Acme String Quartet
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