Sunday, June 21, 2009

Grizzly Bear @ the Troubadour

This was one of those shows that only happens once in a while.

Originally, Grizzly Bear were scheduled to play a show at the Wiltern, a venue 5x as large as the Troubadour. The Wiltern show was their biggest venue yet, and they sold it out. About a week ago, they announced a second secret show at the Troubadour. Seeing this band at a place like the Wiltern would be way different from a place as intimate as the Troubadour. With a band like Grizzly Bear, intimacy made all the difference.

Their harmonies were flawless, inspiring, and gorgeous. Ed Dioste sang about 6 inches away the microphone and projected his voice very calmy and subtly. They amount of power he was able to draw with such little effort was quite incredible. At times I was amazed that he was even singing because his mouth was barely open.

Daniel Rossen, notable for his excellent side project with Department of Eagles, seemed humble and relaxed. He had a smile on his face between songs, a solemn glaze while he played and sang. He seemed very content and to be enjoying himself. Maybe he felt at home, which would be suiting considering he grew up in LA.

Together, they put on quite a powerful performance. Their voices are so contrasting yet so familiar, and along with help from Bear and Taylor, built a wall of sound and voice that was mesmerizing. The singers switched between lead and backup, with 2, 3, or 4 singers at once, all members of the band sang at different times. This is all there on their albums, but less apparent. Seeing it live was a very different experience. Each singer seemed to have his distinct place in each song and buildup, and was necessary for the completion of the song.

Other than vocally, the musicians played their instruments flawlessly. True professionalism. Bear on the drums was nothing short of perfect, and as many drummers would agree his percussion is not easy to construct or replicate. Taylor and his bass carried every song, subdued yet deep and distinct. He threw in the wind instruments, flute and a saxophone, which complemented the vocals and melodies on every opportunity.

My highlight of the night was Knife, probably their most well-known song. After the buildup and builddown, then Dioste leading "Can you feel the knife," Rossen carrying the 2nd melody, the others the third and fouth, they hit their harmonies like a knife. It cut through your spine, leaving nothing but remnants of shivers.

The real virtue of being at a show like this is that it is where all of the closer followers of the band will show up. This was apparent last night. The crowd was extremely enthusiastic, especially this one guy that kept yelling things in between songs. Normally I would find this obnoxious, but for some strange reason it seemed very appropriate. "Grizzly Bear!" "Genius!" "You guys sound like fucking Thom Yorke and Jeff Tweedy!" The crowd, and the band, would smile every time this guy yelled something.

Grizzly Bear, and the LA crowd, had an excellent evening.

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