Live Review

Grizzly Bear, Metro, Chicago

What these Brooklyn boys do on the stage is nothing short of bliss.

Typically musical pretension comes with some unexplained sense of pedigree, but on a rare occasion it is earned and even allowed. And it is with this forethought as a guiding light that this gig review will try to convince any lingering naysayers and close-eared blog harpies that the Brooklyn-based indie-experimental quartet Grizzly Bear have unquestionably proved their worth and earned their keep.

Yes, the band are blowing up bigger than Kayne’s ego in a mirrored room. And, yes, their breakout album ‘Veckatimest’ is being pushed harder than coke at a Chromeo show, but somehow, someway, Grizzly Bear’s live act manages to completely obliterate any and all possibility of even the least credible blog-reviewer posting a cynical, have-that Pitchfork Media review.

From the moment the band take the stage Sunday night at Chicago’s Metro the audience are consumed. They open with proven attention grabber, ‘Southern Point’, and push its simmer-to-boil flow to the absolute limits of its live potential with surging Mason jar lamps and some hauntingly intense, perfectly pitched backing harmonies. With the crowd left so stagger-stepped from the opener it only seems right that bassist/vocalist/flutist/sax-man Chris Taylor takes a thumping lead with ‘Cheerleader’ for the second song of the night.

From here the band seem to settle in and get comfortable in what can be sonically described as a jazz-like sense of effortless control and focus with beautifully swelling numbers like ‘Lullaby’ and ‘Fine For Now’. It is this atmosphere of subtle, yet poignant, intensity that unquestionably brings the high point of the night, when Daniel Rossen powers into the blistering guitar crescendo of ‘Fine for Now’.

Assuredly, that moment of guitar-driven euphoria would have been incredibly hard to top if it wasn’t for an ace-up-the-sleeve move by Ed Droste when he announces a surprise appearance from evening opener Victoria Legrand of Beach House who re-lends her ‘Veckatimest’ backing vocals to frolicsome crowd pleaser ‘Two Weeks’. Legrand’s stripped down carefree indie-art girl vibe and undeniably cute stage dancing brings a definite sense of fun to an otherwise tightly driven night of strict musicianship and harmonized vocals. It is the perfect moment of relief, but when it is over the band immediately flip back over to some of their more intensely climbing and experimental tracks including ‘I Live With You’, ‘Colorado’, and ‘Foreground’.

Now some concert goers might adamantly disagree here because they like to “hear the hits” at the end of a night, but the diehards at the Metro will unquestionably agree that Grizzly Bear’s decision to save the older and more obscure tracks like ‘Yellow House’ standout ‘On a Neck, On a Spit’ and a better-live version of ‘Horn Of Plenty’ track ‘Fix It’ for the close/encore is a perfectly delightful end to an already stunning night.

Take it or leave it, but what this review is trying to convince you who don’t already adore Grizzly Bear of is: sometimes when a niche band finally breaks through the invisible Pop-Hop ceiling of commercially popular music it isn’t always a bad thing. Sometimes bands, like Grizzly Bear, put out something, both live and in the studio, that is undeniably impressive and just plain enjoyable. Grizzly Bear have earned their spot at the top of indie music and if you still want to hate go ahead hate on, but you will unquestionably be missing out. What these Brooklyn boys do on the stage is nothing short of bliss.

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