Grizzly Bear @ Brown Theater 4.1.13
April 5th, 2013 by Matt
Before Grizzly Bear’s show at the Brown Theater, singer Ed Droste tweeted that Louisville should come out to the show because it was their first time bringing their new light show through the area. What he didn’t say was that it was that for those of us who hadn’t seen the band since Shield‘s release, this would be a giant leap forward for the band’s live show.
A few songs into the set, Ed reminded everyone that the last time they played Louisville was when they played in a church’s rec area in 2008. That’s a far stretch from now, both in time and in status. Five years later and Grizzly Bear had very nearly filled the spacious Brown Theater. They’re still hot off Shields and the crowd was in love from start to finish.
I’ve always said that if I had to pick any guitarist, singer, bassist and drummer to form a supergroup, I’d pick the four members of Grizzly Bear. These four guys are absolute masters of their role in the band. And if you’re ever tempted to think that one of them is stealing the show, I guarantee it’s only because you didn’t notice that the other three were providing perfect backing to allow one of them to step up with a guitar riff, vocal melody or whatever was needed to shine brightly in that moment.
While I didn’t catch his name, I do have to point out that GB added a new member to their live show. The new guy played multiple keyboards in the back and was, along with their lighting director and flawless sound guy, partially responsible for their great new show. With him added in, we got the fullness of the record but with the added sound quality that comes from being in the same room as the musicians. Every time I could feel Chris Taylor thump a particularly great bass line, I wondered if Grizzly Bear could be first band I’ve seen that actually sound better live.
Not only did they sound great, but their new show looks amazing. There’s been a creativity arms race in the concert lighting field as long as I’ve been going to shows. Grizzly Bear’s new lights set-up is not only one of the best I’ve seen in years, I’d wager it’s one of the most cost-effective. After a song or two, little lanterns began to rise in the background. Part japanese lantern, part jellyfish, the little light sources could raise or lower through the show and wold flicker or dim as their programming willed. The result was a backdrop that was powerful, engaging and intimate.
And while I can’t rave enough about the quality of their live show, I also have to say that they did a genius job picking the evening’s songs and plotting out the flow of the set list. Most of the night was a mixture of songs from Shields and Veckatimest that were mixed together almost like you’d sequence a beautiful double-album. It was eerie how well songs from one led to songs from the other.
There were also some longstanding fan favorites mixed in. “Shift,” from 2004′s Horn of Plenty, came unexpectedly early in the set and was one of the more emotional moments of the show. Likewise the inclusion of two songs that helped propel the band to stardom, “Knife” and “On a Neck, On a Spit,” at the start of their encore were surprises that drew an audible reaction from me. But nothing compared to getting to see them do “All We Ask” as the closer. For it, Dan Rossen played acoustic guitar, Chris Bear drummed with one stick on a hand drum and Ed and Chris Taylor sang in beautiful harmony. At that point it was less like seeing a huge band and more like seeing four brothers at a family talent show.
Tags: grizzly bear