The following review by the respected rock critic Iman Lababedi and our friends at rocknyc. Check it out, along with a early video of the Grizzy Bears performing their hit “Two Weeks”
Grizzly Bear At Radio City Music Hall, NYC, September 27th, 2012 Reviewed
My co-editor called me to say the word from Mary Magpie, our teenage wunderkind, was Grizzly Bear were the band to catch this week. A concept I was aware of. Their recently released Shields was not the watershed recording, that had happened earlier, but, if not crossing the indie experimental band pop, it at least semi-popped them. It sounds like an album adding to an already widening audience. It didn’t feel like a holding action or transitional moment, but more like an expression of longevity. Of a career continuing.From the popist “gun-shy” to the soundscape heavily modern orchestrations (two pianos!), “Sun In Your Eyes”, Shields is a quietly ambitious statement.
So is playing Radio City Music Hall. On Monday night, Ed Drost looked around the legendary hall in amazement, “This is surreal,” he said. ” It makes me think back to our first show at Zebulon in 2004.”The year Ed created Grizzly Bear as a solo project\ Horn Of Plenty? then he shook himself out of his revelry as the band launched into their Winter of 2012 set. And it sounded great, but except for the light show, it was all a little boring. Like listening to classical music (at least for me), opera is interesting, classical, all people do is stand around and play and essentially that’s all the Brooklyn based experimental indie rock band does.
Ed can have the intensity of Ian Curtis, he clutches his mic in a similar manner, but he is too distracted by making the music to put out in any real sense. And fellow vocalist and guitarist Daniel Rossen is even more enrapt in the performance which is, again, excellent. But they seem so deep inside it…. and they definitely aren’t too artistic bound to be blinded by environment. . Grizzly Bear were acutely aware of their surroundings but have become such sound merchants, we are left to feel out their emotions.
Daniel’s mother had flown in from Los Angeles for this. Ed’s 91 year old Grandmother had come in from Texas (“I hope it isn’t too loud for you”) and the band end the evening with an impromptu “On A Neck, On A Spit”, the first song they ever wrote as a band, as well as ending the evening with an acoustic, and rather splendid “All We Ask”.
Elsewhere they sound like Panda Bear with the electronics on “Cheerleader” , while the following song, “Lullaby”, was as pleasant as they getthen began going in a metallic, other direction. Like a dream going sinister. Not feel good, feel strange.
Better still is “gun-shy” which emerges as the “Knife” of Shields, and Ed has a lithe sexiness, his shirt untucked and hair tousled. “Shift” with three part harmonies, which don’t quite soar (later they would perform four part harmony) but could if they felt like it as not at all pretty: everything is feeling a little other, a little strange, like meeting your Mom’s new boyfriend.
But despite the true excellence of the music, the band are too dry. Grizzly Bear are at odds with themselves. and when they are delving deep into song constructions, on their hugely successful “Knife” for instance they crackle and pop on stage, but when they jump off the deep end and playing with the rivulets of ambience on “Colorado”, it is hard to take. You find yourself doing what you so often do when it comes to ambience, concentrate hard… on other stuff.
If you were a fan, it is hard to imagine Grizzly Bear playing a better set. But if you pick and choose your moments with Grizzly Bear, the set isn’t tight enough. Except the sound, the sound is tight enough