NOISE: Grizzly good times


Guardian contributor Chris Sabbath caught the Grizzly Bear show at Great American Music Hall on Feb. 20. Here's his review:


Upon purchasing Grizzly Bear’s first full-length, Horn of Plenty (Kanine), two years ago as one of those 99-cent treasures on or something, my immediate assumption was that Edward Droste and his Brooklyn buds would probably be one of those hyped bands that just didn’t work out. I wrote the groups syrupy, psych-folk bedroom rock off as “music for the unmasses”: a tail-feather grappler (Animal Collective, in this case) touring the country 10 months of the year and playing in rinky-dink art spaces with bad paintings and hole-in-the-wall dives to the other bands and their girlfriends.

But fast forward to Tuesday night’s sold-out show at the Great American Music Hall, and Droste and his band - comprising drummer Christopher Bear, bassist Chris Taylor, and guitarist Daniel Rossen - were all giving me the finger instead.

Having just acquired the East Coast outfit’s Warp Records debut, Yellow House, I was impressed with the “epic” sound Grizzly Bear showcased in its live performances, especially in quieter, acoustic songs such as “Lullaby” and “Easier.” And, damn, was Droste’s autoharp loud. I liked how the quartet’s
songs meticulously shifted sonically. “Lullaby’s” nature was just what the song name suggests - a calming mixture of strummed guitar, spare, looped electronics, whistles, and Rossen’s magnetic voice. But then as the song skates along, Droste manages to sneak a discordant riff that seemingly tears
the song to shreds. I was also a fan of Droste’s range as a vocalist: he could seriously carry a song. Throughout half them, Droste harmonized while Rossen sang leads, but I also liked how Droste would process his vocals through a pedal and mutate them into an ambient whir.

My favorite Grizzly Bear song of the night was the album-closer “Colorado.” It kind of evoked a Radioheadish sentiment with some Sufjan sandwiched in there: bouncy rhythms, a fiery guitar solo, hazy-sounding vocals. It would have been proper to close the set with this song as well. Another favorite was “Knife,” a song that reminds me of the early '60s street-corner doo-wop. The only key item missing from the stage during this number’s awesome performance was a barrel engulfed in flames. I was also a fan of the Crystals cover "He Hit Me (And It Felt Like a Kiss)" - a great song with a memorable, buoyant bass line. My only complaint was that I was standing too far away, so half of the time I couldn’t even see what was going on. I think Taylor was one of those floor-crouchers because I couldn’t see him for most of the performance, and I think the only time I caught Bear was when he walked out with the rest of the group when they first came on.

Unfortunately, I missed SF local Jason Quever and his band, the Papercuts, which just released a new album, Can’t Go Back (Gnomonsong), but from what I was told by several people, it was the highlight of the show.