Grizzly Bear goes wild
There are flannel shirts as far as the eye can see, with an occasional jacket and tie. Everyone has unshaved facial hair (those who grow it, at l east) and tight pants, and most people smell bad. Nobody is older than 30.
This is the visual sensation inside the cozy auditorium of the Andy Warhol Museum on the North Side, where the Brooklyn-based quartet Grizzly Bear played to a sold-out crowd Friday night. “The last time we were here two years ago, there were four people at our show. And they were our friends,” said singer and multi-instrumentalist Ed Droste.
This scenario probably isn’t unique to the band’s Pittsburgh show; following the release of 2006’s critically acclaimed Yellow House, Grizzly Bear transitioned from the New York underground to nationwide success. The band has toured extensively over the past two years, scoring sold-out shows and spots at major music festivals.
Friday night’s show proved the band’s extensive road experience, developed chemistry, and mature songwriting ability. The music was layered with quirky instrumentation (featuring everything from the flute to the glockenspiel) and fabulous vocal harmonies. Singers Droste and Daniel Rossen have complimentary voices that blend perfectly together; Droste’s is big and booming (like his stature) while Rossen’s is tighter and pleasantly piercing. Though Rossen and Droste at times sounded distant and lethargic on Yellow House, the two were direct and energetic at the show.
Equally in your face was Christopher Bear’s drumming. On record, Bear plays with a touch of jazz, combined with the reserved energy of someone who listened to The Who when his parents weren’t looking. At the show, however, Bear was let loose. Playing without a kick drum, Bear held down the low end of the drum set with his floor tom; you’d think it would sound a bit thin, but on tracks like “On a Neck, On a Spit,” the whack against the floor tom was infinitely more intense than the thump of a kick drum. That’s some surprisingly serious energy from a band that, on record, sounds like it’s cooler to be restrained than it is to be unleashed.