Grizzly Bear - Brixton Academy, London 22/10/12
If you had told Ed Droste 10 years ago that thousands of people would be serenading him on his 34th birthday under the adoration of his then solo project Grizzly Bear, I’m sure he would have politely dismissed such a seemingly ridiculous notion. Grizzly Bear’s 2002 debut – Horn Of Plenty – was a sombre, plaintive affair, written in wake of a rather distressing relationship meltdown, and it’s quite incredible going back and listening to it now, knowing how the rest of the Grizzly Bear story unfurls. The evolution of this band is one of the most beautiful stories in 21st Century art.
When they walked in front of an absolutely rammed Brixton Academy, the band calmly assumed their positions and remained there for the entire evening, but you don’t exactly go and see Grizzly Bear to witness a load of running about and climbing of amplifiers, do you? The band, like their music, is gracious and impossible not to like. The thumping drums and sparse instrumentation which opens ‘Speak In Rounds’ eased the audience into an attentive mindset, but it’s wasn’t until Daniel Rossen began the furious rhythmical strumming of his guitar that the set kicked off and it never let-up from there. The instrumental ‘Adelma’ followed the opener and introduced a background of electronically controlled paper lanterns which oddly resembled gigantic, glowing sperm cells, which provided a handsome, yet spectral, backdrop for the rest of show.
The band performed the perfect set, including a mixture of tracks taken from the last two albums and healthy dose of their brand new album, Shields. Rossen switched between keys and guitar throughout the set and even during certain songs, such as the brilliant upcoming single ‘A Simple Answer’. Droste may leave most of instrumentation to others in the band these days, but his voice sounded as haunting and tortured as ever, especially the impassioned vocals on the first Veckatimest track of the night, ‘Cheerleader’.
The most remarkable thing about the show was the fact that the set was so crammed full of highlights, that it is virtually impossible to pick a single one. ‘Lullabye’ sounded weirder and more raucous than ever, ‘Yet Again’ was simply incredible, especially the manic guitar-noise section right at the end. The whole show was so enjoyable from start to finish that I’d completely forgot about great songs such as ‘While You Wait For The Others’ until they featured towards the end. That said, the performances of ‘Half Gate’ and ‘Sun In Your Eyes’ and ‘Two Weeks’ right before the encore reminded the audience that, even though quirky little pop songs like ‘Two Weeks’ are great, Grizzly Bear are at their best when they create multi-faceted, ambitious songs full of orchestral pomp and layering vocals on top of rich soundscapes of guitars and synths.
When the inevitable encore came round, I was struggling to think what else they had up their sleeve. Surely we had seen all their best work already? And then the opening chords of ‘Knife’ began and the audience where sent into blissful rapture. Finishing the show with a wonderful acoustic rendition of ‘All We Ask’ provided an ending full of grace and deliberate composure, reducing a positively bulging Brixton Academy to silence and near-tears.
It’s hard to fault a band that create such captivating music and perform so gallantly, especially when they’re so clearly at their top of their game. If I had one criticism, it would be this; they didn’t play for another two hours. One of those shows when, as soon as you leave, you wish you could turn the clock back and do it all over again. Truly magical.
Purchase and listen
Label: Bella Union / Sub Pop Out: 25th January Website: Myspace Buy: Amazon This is a band I was certain I was going to dislike from the off. Having come to the Beach House party relatively late, I had them down as another one riding a wave of hype. By the time I had been made aware of what they had to offer, (Live at The Fleapit in London) the band were about to release their third album Teen Dream. At this point the internet was awash with celebrity endorsements for the band. Whether ... [read more]
Label: American Dust Release date: 20/07/10 Official Site Buy: Amazon Itâs been two years, roughly, since Daniel Rossen and Fred Nicolaus (d/b/a as Department of Eagles) released their impressive sophomore effort In Ear Park. Since then, Rossen has focused more on bucolic tunes with Grizzly Bear than his personal, almost claustrophobic DoE compositions, while Nicolaus has remained in his usual under the radar location. Now with a retrospective of the time between their debut LP and th... [read more]
We sent 405 photographer, Tim Ferguson, and writer Alex Elder down to Cargo to catch CANT's debut London performance (if you don't count their Rough Trade East instore earlier the same day). Support came in the form of the restless and energetic Blood Orange, who joined Chris with drummer and keyboardist on stage after his solo set to form the CANT full band experience. Take a look... [read more]
Label: Self released Release date: 23/08/10 Official Site Well, here we are with 2010 more than halfway over. Iâm sure by now all the writers here at The 405 and some of our readers have begun to calculate what may be in their top lists of the year. How many of you wish that there was a Veckatimest for this year? Well, fret not for somebody heard your pleas and took the idea behind the sound of the album and mangled it! Yes, We Are Trees are indebted to Chris Taylor, but have added a t... [read more]