Friday, May 29, 2009

Here We Go Townhall: Grizzly Bear Showcase the Magic

Grizzly Bear/Town Hall/May 28

(originally published @ CMJ)

Here We Go Magic began the first of two sold out nights in NY, openly admitting early in the set, “…it’s weird seeing people above me while playing” and “I’m giving it away. We’ve never played somewhere like this.” Even so, nerves didn’t distract these magicians from waving their wands. “Ahab” jeered the audience’s attention early in the set, melding vocals and plucking every jangle, just like the self-titled album’s production. “Fangela” was the second to last song, sung sweet by five of the sextet. HWGM closed “Tunnelvision” with some epic shoegaze haze you’d expect out of arena rocking names. Definitely the right spells to open for Grizzly Bear.

Grizzly Bear and the Brooklyn Youth Choir was a site to behold. Chris Taylor’s Rickenbacker blew clouds of syncopated bass lines which the audience ate like kirby on a hungry day. Opening with “Southern Point,” varying light shades of purple and pinks as well as a few lanterns lit the stage like the gloomy harmonies these grizzly guys have been distributing for a few years now.

The Brooklyn Youth Choir were invited on stage, joining in the background “Cheerleader” while Ed Droste drearily crooned “I shouldn’t really matter…” shifting melodies reminiscent of classical compositions. The lights glowed amber setting the tone for “Fine For Now”; the flashing lanterns, the ambient fellowship of the choir; nothing went wrong. Every time the chorus spun around, the choir followed Droste, through their ever-challenging harmonic weaving.

“Knife” was met by an audience wide applause; “Little Brother” joined in the succession taking the set-list back to Yellow House favorites that kept the show’s steam seeping over with energy, both calamitous and romantic. In “Ready, Able”, Droste sung, held by gentle, minimal piano. The chorus was dominant, whilst the bass drum, syncopated like marching men, carried the song.

Grizzly Bear came back for the encore, to sing us a song they covered long ago. Romantic, honest, sincere, their version of the Motown classic “He Hit Me” put these boys on the front page, and who could expect anything else? Grizzly bear is older, matured, far more honed than their beginnings, and this song is pure proof of that. “On a Neck, On a Spit” bellows “Each day I spend it with you now,” continued the bear of an encore. The show ended, and Town Hall was filled to the brim with esoteric hymns.

Download "Cheerleader"!

-Jomel Silverio