I’m still recovering from the hypnotic, dream-like stupour that Grizzly Bear cast upon me over the weekend. Between the intricately vivid melodies, the gorgeous blend of ethereal vocals, the lush lighting, and the body warmth radiating from the sold-out crowd, I stood helplessly spellbound and in awe of the Brooklyn four-piece, who had the entire Metro Theatre swaying and swooning.
Being on the promotional trail of their well-received new album, the Grizzly Bear set was naturally laden with evocative tunes from Shields. Opening with the visceral, climatic Speak in Rounds, they transitioned into the eerie, voiceless Adelma and the folksy shuffle of lead single Sleeping Ute with ease and conviction.
But Grizzly Bear have spawned three other enthralling albums in their decade-spanning career, which their legion of adoring fans have grown affectionately attached to, so they paid homage to the likes of Horn of Plenty, Yellow House, and of course, 2009’s breakthrough record Veckatimist. The captivated crowd broke free of their daze and chanted the lyrics of Cheerleader, a set highlight; Ready, Able; and I Live With You – almost subconsciously.
Head honcho Edward Droste weaved his web of soaring croons around those of his partner in songwriting and serenading, Daniel Rossen. Together, their harmonies reverberated through the theatre walls and proved my theory that Grizzly Bear must be witnessed live to be truly realised and appreciated.
Whilst they’ve certainly not garnered a reputation in the live circuit for a boisterous or unique stage presence, the band’s sheer humility in their fame, their genuine surprise towards their fandom’s rapturous reception, and their friendly banter with the crowd is humbling itself. It was particularly endearing to watch Droste admit that he totally screwed up the opening to fan-favourite While You Wait for Others and disguised the awkward silence by engaging his bandmates in a jazzy improvisational jam. This momentary lapse of musical aptitude didn’t shame them, it humanised them, and the audience responded with unyielding applause.
After treating the crowd to pastoral sing-a-long ditty Two Weeks, Grizzly Bear closed the set with ambient new numbers Half Gate and Sun in Your Eyes. But leaving the premises without an encore was non-negotiable. The crowd demanded it. So, with pleasure, the four lads re-assumed their positions on stage and delivered Knife, the bucolic On a Neck, On a Spit’, and a special acoustic rendition of All We Ask. I couldn’t have asked for more.