|Grizzly Bear| l-r: Daniel Rossen, Ed Droste, Christopher Bear, Chris Taylor
Since hearing 'He Hit Me' from their Friend (2007) album, I was basically hooked and mesmerized. So when Grizzly Bear announced they were going to play at the Vogue Theatre in Vancouver on October 14th (having missed their May performance at Commodore Ballroom), I jumped at the chance to see and hear them live. We arrived late and missed the opener, The Morning Benders, but I hear they were well received.
Pictures from the show:
They played mostly songs from their new album Veckatimest (2009) but also a few from Yellow House (2006), most notably 'Knife'. Chris Taylor opened the song with scratchy, high-pitched vocals, immediately grabbing your full attention and made me feel like I was watching some ghostly 1950s prom band, (this is not an insult). Their use of echo-y vocals and guitars harken back to 1950s Doo Wop music, a style that came out of several cities, including Brooklyn, which is where Grizzly Bear is also from. During the show I was often reminded of the Beach Boys, with their harmonizing and a cappella style, a sound that is definitely favoured by Grizzly Bear.
Their performance was multi-dimensional and layered and kept you enthralled and entertained, and the hanging lights and coloured (orange!) spotlights added to the whole experience. Near the end of the show they sang 'Foreground', possibly the best song of the night. It was so simply haunting and emotional, the crowd was clearly captivated, myself included.
The thing that gets me excited about Grizzly Bear, over other popular bands, is their use of and skill with other instruments. It's really easy for bands to stick with the basics but Grizzly Bear pulls out a flute, bass clarinet, oboe, xylophone, autoharp, back up choirs and orchestras, on top of the guitars, keyboard, a myriad of drums and cymbals, and of course, not forgetting their voices, which have great range and add to their complexity. I think one accurate description of their music could be experimental, psychedelic, folk-harmony.
So the show was awesome but I was a little sad that they didn't play my favourite song from Veckatimest, 'All We Ask'. Maybe next time, that's all I ask..
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Krista Jahnke lives and works in Vancouver, BC and likes to ask