There is a subtle grace and air of nonchalance in a Grizzly Bear show. It’s a very discreet calm and ethereal effortlessness that carries their show. The absurdly talented quartet has an expertise that transcends their title of “indie.”
The reverence in the crowd was palpable. Cardigan clad music aficionados waited with a pulsing anticipation. In the moderate night that rolled through the streets, a teeming crowd gathered for a sold out show at the Commodore Ballroom. As the doors opened, they filed in orderly to fill the venue to every crevice. The excited murmur was varied from past concert experiences, to new releases and upcoming acts that have been impressive. It was in the midst of the vast, omniscient crowd that I realized Grizzly Bear attracted a certain type of person: the kind that likes to discuss and share music, then revel in it, slightly more satiated than before.
Lower Dens was an impeccable compliment to open the show. Their brief set was mesmerizing and was a pleasant beginning to the night. For this crowd, there were some very definite fans, but for those who did not seem to know them, they still were able to provide a terrific warm up. It’s rare that an opening act is as impressive as they were in the way they were. As perplexing as this may seem, they were a great band that was even better as an opening act. Their set never felt like filler or some background pleasantry for the eager onlookers. Whereas most opening acts can be forgetful or get overdone by the headliner, both bands had a quiet, calm, laid back demeanour. As a result, despite the break, they just seemed to flow into each other and made the night feel cohesive as opposed to a lead up to the main act.
Grizzly Bear’s setlist was a perfect medley of their latest album, Shields, and past material. It was obvious that it was a well-thought out and thorough process to figure the night out. when the band came out, the crowd seemed to peak with energy, but lo and behold, this was only the beginning. Though the band sounds is notably mellow with a few exceptions, most songs seemed to pry that bit of extra enthusiasm from deep inside the concert goers. Notable for me was the performance of “Sleeping Ute.” The song always had a queer oddity to me, but to see it performed live in such a conventional method really changed my perspective of the song. It truly highlighted the musicianship the quartet brings to song writing and the expertise when it comes to making songs that sound pleasingly off. It reminded me about how I fell in love with Grizzly Bear’s unconventional sound. The inexplicable mysticism and childish whim reverberates in their sound making them such a unique band. The crowd seemed to peak at the intro for the well known single “Two Weeks.” By the time the encore came around, I was tired but those around me seemed to buzz with intensity.
The encore was not unlike the final twist in a book: while everyone was pleased with how the night had gone, they could not leave without one final spike of energy. As the lights died and the band departed, the bewilderment of the night seemed to set in. The night had seemed to capture the city, sprawling through its streets and embracing the serendipity of a long weekend. I thought I was alone for a moment, but after looking around, many people shared the same gaping expression. Sometimes, that’s the lone beauty in sharing an interest.