23 September 2012
Warp Records recording artist and indie-rock darlings Grizzly Bear, returned to Montreal after five years to close out the POP Montreal Festival in style, and played to a jam-crammed and delighted crowd at The Olympia Theatre. Showcasing tracks from their brand new album Shields, interspersed with hits from their acclaimed earlier work, the Brooklyn quartet revealed why they are one of the most revered bands in the “indie” world – playing their challenging compositions with ease, switching instruments mid-song when needed, and delivering strong and near pitch-perfect vocal performances throughout.
Their stage show was simple yet effective – the band set up in a line on stage and with the help of excellent lighting as a backdrop (18 jellyfish-like lanterns flashing and moving in sync with the music), they created a fitting mood for the duration of their hour-long set.
As they began with “Speak in Rounds” from Shields, I was immediately pulled in, but started having a strange sensation that it sounded almost too good, that there would be no variation from recorded material to live performance, and that I could simply close my eyes and not be able to tell the difference between the two. However, as the lanterns slowly rose from the subterranean depths of the murky sea, and they played Shields opener “Sleeping Ute”, varying the tempo a bit and adding an extra vocal hook I began to truly get sucked in, and by the time they started “Yet Again”, I was one of the converts, not caring that I was a little too far back from the stage than I liked and couldn’t quite feel the sound reverberating through my body. It didn’t matter, Grizzly Bear came to perform and did so like true professionals.
Highlights for me included “Shift”, which was perfectly rendered live, “Foreground”, which with the help of sombre lighting was incredibly powerful, “While You Wait For The Others”, and “Ready, Able”, which are two of my faves from “Veckatimest”, “Gun-Shy”, which the more I listen to is becoming a fave on Shields, and of course the closing track “Sun in Your Eyes“, an eight-minute opus that has hints of theatre and prog and is arguably the band’s best example to date of their overall sound. Just great.
As I’ve said before here on INAUDIBLE, any time a Warp Records artist comes to play in your town, you are wise not to miss them, because you can be assured it’s gonna be tops. Check out Shields if you haven’t yet, as it will surely be on countless end of year lists, including mine. Peace.
1. Speak in Rounds
3. Sleeping Ute
6. Yet Again
7. Little Brother
10. Ready, Able
11. A Simple Answer
13. While You Wait For The Others
14. Two Weeks
15. Half Gate
16. Sun In Your Eyes
18. On A Neck, On A Spit
* photo courtesy of Mateusz Garbulinski (from their show at Massey Hall in Toronto)