Grizzly Bear w/Brooklyn Philharmonic

Grizzly Bear + Brooklyn Philharmonic

I went to see Grizzly Bear perform with the Brooklyn Philharmonic at BAM in Brooklyn, at the Howard Gilman Opera House. Guess where Grizzly Bear are from? You guessed it. This was sort of a homecoming for them, and I believe it was their first performance since finishing their forthcoming album, VECKATIMEST. Their last performance was in October.

So how was the show?

Well, I really wanted to see the opening act, Final Fantasy, which is fronted by Owen Pallett, the guy who writes arrangements for the likes of Arcade Fire, Beirut, Patrick Wolf and so on. Unfortunately, I mismanaged the evening and was eating dinner through most of his set; I only got to hear the end of his last song, and it sounded spectacular. He would know what to do with that orchestra.

All that aside, I have to say I left the show wanting a little more. Grizzly Bear definitely performed well, and the venue must have been their best venue they’ve ever performed in (this was my first time seeing them, tragically), and a perhaps bit daunting at that. And for that reason, the night came off a little bit lackluster. With the full force of the Brooklyn Philharmonic behind them, they seemed a bit like timid high-schoolers. They said themselves during their encore, after the orchestra left, how it was terrifying to have the orchestra behind them.

The set-list did include most of the strong tracks off of Yellow House (they opened with easier, which was lovely, but no knife which makes sense, but it was my first GB concert, but oh well). They played several new songs (Two Weeks , and a couple older songs they were performing for the first time, like Campfire). Several of the songs, however, had me losing my focus (Foreground, is that ironic?). They didn’t carry the distinctness of some of their stronger material, and I’m just hoping that is a product of being in their infancy live, and not a reflection of the new album’s potential. I liked their rendition of She Hit Me (It Felt Like a Kiss) a lot. Droste changed the “She” to a “He”, however, but I believe he is gay, so that would make sense? I also really liked one of the new songs where the orchestra swelled with the band at the song’s climax (Ready, Able).

Daniel Rossen stole the show for me, with his kermit banjo moment and otherwise sharp, hautning vocals. Ed Droste was on point vocally, but there was so much much reverb on his mic I wondered if I was hearing flashes of Morten Harket. Meanwhile, Chris Taylor was channeling his best Jonny Greenwood impression, going so far as to play his pan flute from a crouched position for some unknown reason. Chris Bear was busy flailing his bangs to and fro, frolicking with his tambourine-adorned high hat, and generally driving the ladies wild with his boyish good looks.

I attended the show with my friend Patrick, who was marveling on the subway at how much better Lykke Li was to him in concert than on her album. I have to say the opposite was true tonight for me. I didn’t get the same magic that drew me to Grizzly Bear in the first place. Maybe it was my mood, being lost in Manhattan with family so far away. I don’t know.

For the most part, I found the set to be overly quiet, bordering on lethargic, and everything just felt a touch bland to my ears. Several of their classic tracks (little brother) sounded slightly elevator music-ish in the hands of Michael Christie and his orchestra.

At any rate, I can’t say I want my money back (there was defnitely plenty to enjoy), but I can’t put it on any Top 10’s either. Let’s just hope the new album makes up for what I missed out on tonight.

One of the better songs of the night, most recently appearing on the Dark was the Night compilation:

“Deep Blue Sea” @

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“Grizzly Bear w/Brooklyn Philharmonic”