Sunday, July 21, 2024

Concert Review: Grizzly Bear Proves Chamber Pop Can Rock

Every real music fan wants to be surprised, right? Though some may be content with the Top 40 status quo, I’d like to believe that real music fans want to be caught off guard, swept off their feet. That’s exactly how I felt after watching the show Grizzly Bear put on for the scant crowd at Miami Beach’s Fillmore on Thursday night.

Following opening sets from Aquafeet and serpentwithfeet, Grizzly Bear took the stage at 10:10 with little fanfare and dove into the set with a spirited rendition of “Losing All Sense,” a standout from Painted Ruins, the group’s most recent record.

The Brooklyn group’s vocal harmony-driven sound came to life onstage, the sonic textures of their chamber pop as rich and intricate as the wrinkles in the fabric that hung over them throughout the show. Each song blossomed into something captivating—and satisfying in a way the band has never quite been able to capture in the studio. After seeing Grizzly Bear live, it’s no surprise that this is the group Johnny Greenwood called his favorite band after its stint opening for Radiohead back in 2008.

All photos by James Biagiotti
All photos by James Biagiotti

Grizzly Bear was started by frontman Ed Droste in Brooklyn in 2002, and its current and longstanding lineup took form in 2005. The band features two songwriters sharing lead vocal duties in Droste and Daniel Rossen, who traded off songs throughout the evening. Christopher Bear proved himself to be a formidable drummer, enchanting with off-kilter rhythms and powerful drum fills, and bassist Chris Taylor showed off his many talents, supplementing his bass duties with stints playing flute, saxophone and even singing lead vocals with a bold falsetto on one song.

The crowd’s biggest reaction of the night was ignited by “Two Weeks,” the surprise crossover hit responsible for the group’s misclassification by some as a one-hit-wonder. Though “Two Weeks” sounded great live, and the crowd sang along to every word, it was far from the best song of the night, proving that Grizzly Bear’s finest material can only be found by delving deeper into its catalog.

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Some of the night’s most impressive tracks came from 2012’s Shields, with up-tempo cuts “Sleeping Ute” and “Yet Again” standing out in the middle of the main set as some of the night’s heaviest moments and pushing the volume to thundering levels.

This is a band that knows how to build to a big finish. Don’t believe me? Go listen to “Fine For Now,” the strongest track of the whole night. Like much of their music, it’s a song that starts slow and would be easy to skip if it played on shuffle, but it’s well worth sticking around for the climax.

The show culminated in the last song of the main set, “While You Wait For the Others,” which slowly built to a massive sing-along with all four members of the band providing vocals over bombastic guitar and drums. After the instrumental portion ended, the band sang the last few bars of the song a cappella before sauntering offstage to prepare for the encore.

By the time the final piano chords rang out at the end of show closer “Sun In Your Eyes,” Grizzly Bear’s work for the night was done. Longtime fans had been satisfied by the varied 85-minute set, which covered tracks from each of the group’s last four records. And the uninitiated, such as myself, had been thoroughly impressed and indoctrinated.

James Biagiotti
James Biagiotti
James Biagiotti is a native of Boca Raton, a marketing professional in South Florida, and the former Web Editor of Boca Raton magazine. He is an avid music fan who spends far too much time listening to, dissecting, and traveling to see his favorite bands. He is also, unfortunately, a devoted Miami Dolphins fan.

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