I hold high expectations for any band that has opened for Radiohead. Often bands that play ambient or progressive rock, however, tend to lack quality in live performances.
Grizzly Bear not only proved this theory wrong, but they allowed me to experience some of the best live vocals I’ve heard in a long time (All four members contribute, after all.)
The night began with Beach House, a band I can best describe as a cross between Mazzy Star and Cat Power, with a killer keyboard reminiscent of the Vox Continental (used by The Doors.)
While I’m sure a great deal of the audience was in the upstairs area (as that’s where alcohol was served,) on the main floor it didn’t seem crowded at all. However, one could tell Grizzly Bear fans were devoted, knowing every song with tenacity, while still remaining absolutely mellow, which was refreshing (although, who would get violent at a show like this?)
The band played favorites like “Cheerleader,” “Southern Point,” “Fine for Now,” “Foreground,” “Ready, Able,” “I Live with You,” “Lullabye,” “On a Neck on a Spit” and “While You Wait for the Others.”
“Colorado” sounded phenomenal, and way better live in my opinion, while “He Hit Me” was an unexpected encore (as the crowd was chanting a request of “Little Brother” for the encore.) Still, it was a nice touch an interesting cover to hear (especially compared to the original and the cover by Hole.)
The defining moment of the night was “The Knife.” The song always gave me chills, but seeing this performed live was mesmerizing. I don’t know what Chris Taylor uses to transform his voice for the background vocals, but he left the entire audience purring. All we needed was a plush couch (for those of us in the standing-room-only section.)
Other highlights included “Two Weeks” and “Slow Life” (the latter which was eventually featured on the Twilight: New Moon soundtrack.) Victoria Legrand also came out to join the band vocally for these tracks.
Ed Droste also sounded amazing, his vocals frequently reminding me of more delicate version of Depeche Mode’s Dave Gahan.
Overall, I felt Beach House and Grizzly Bear complimented each other perfectly. Both acts had an surreal, island-at-nightfall backdrop, aligned with hanging glass jars which made for unique decoration, and (I’m guessing) a great reverberating tool for the incredible vocals of the GB quartet.