Grizzly Bear @ Music Hall of Williamsburg (NYC)

[All photography by Joe Pepin. Photo collages by myself.]

I found myself feeling pretty conflicted walking out of the Music Hall of Williamsburg after seeing Grizzly Bear for the second time in the flesh. As songwriters and performers, they are the cream of the crop, and I can assuredly say that Yellow House has changed my life, and my direction artistically.

When I saw them at 2640 Space here in Baltimore, I didn’t expect much. Their records are so meticulously calculated with textures and ambiance, I honestly didn’t expect them to be able to recreate much or any of that in a live situation.

Boy was I wrong.

That was about a year ago. Fast forward to August 2008, and they’ve added around 4-5 songs to their repertoire, re-worked some oldies, and they are in the middle of a national tour with one of the most respected, inventive and influential rock bands of our generation (Radiohead).

Maybe I’m just a fussy super-fan with a stick up my ass–– but I expected to be completely blown away. I figure, they’ve had a year to hone their craft, and build their live presence. They’re returning to their stomping grounds of Brooklyn, high on the energy of playing with Radiohead, about to continue their adventure with the fore-mentioned British mind-melters.

Long story short, I wasn’t. I’m still battling this paradox in my head. It just seems like they never really hit their stride. Towards to end of the show things started to gel, but I could see the frustration in the back and forth expressions of Chris Bear and Dan Rossen.

Now might be a good moment to hit on the benefits of Chris Bear. While always inventive, his drumming is so soft in their recordings. Live, he really pushes the energy of the crew to a new level. He probably saved the show for me, in a way.

When someone in the crowd shouted out “Too Little Too Late” during the encore, they were requesting a song that Dan Rossen recorded at the request of Mr. Droste. But for me, I was in agreement with his bellowing request as if it was a statement on their performance.

I have a big, fuzzy, cocoon in my heart for a few select bands. Right now, and perhaps forever, Grizzly Bear is sitting pretty within– but I wonder what they thought of their performance, as well as other fans. I can’t tell if it’s just me and my expectations being way out of hand.

Other random notes:

  • When am I going to hear that Omnichord? I know I haven’t yet. I’ve seen Ed play it during Two Weeks, But it hasn’t made any audible sound. What gives?
  • Two Weeks: Such an amazing song, but I missed the extra wall of bliss that is the appregio keyboard part (see random guy on keyboard during the letterman youtube)
  • Grizzly Bear’s tour merch right now is ridiculously good (t-shirts!!!)
  • Chris Taylor is a multi-tasking, woodwind-looping, featherey phenom (see below)

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