Grizzly Bear – Live at Tabernacle

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The night began with an expectation of mediocre Mexican food with friends who refuse to relocate from their weekly gathering spot.  Ah, the sway of margaritas.  A phone call changed all that, and off I went to battle traffic to downtown Atlanta for this show.  Note:  Surprisingly, there are not that many great spots for a pre-concert meal around Olympic Park.  If you’re in the area, try Der Biergarten, and perhaps the Jagerschnitzel. 

Grizzly Bear – I bought their 2012 CD, Shields, soon after it was released.  I was teased by a few of the songs, but it collected dust ever since.  A friend had bought tickets and someone dropped out, so aside from trading up on a meal, I was curious to see what the band was like live, especially coming off their latest release, Painted Ruins.

We arrived to find a full crowd, noticeably younger than my typical shows and also approaching gender equity.  In other words, it’s date night for a lot of folks.



Overall, the sound was pretty good.  Instrumental clarity was fine, and the vocals were probably suitable for those more familiar with their lyrics.  Each singer has their own style, Ed Droste fairly straightforward and Daniel Rossen with a penchant for a fairly unconventional delivery, ala Tim Smith of Midlake.  This provides good variety in their songs, which were roughly evenly split.

So, what is left is the performance.  Instrumentally, I liked what I heard.   Bassist Chris Taylor added sax and flute, which added good variety to the band’s keyboard heavy sound, not to mention his backing vocals which are key when then their songs are at their best. 

Drummer Christopher Bear was a pleasure to hear, playing a variety rhythms generally categorized as “things Ringo wouldn’t play.”  On the other hand, Ringo could play a big beat, and as “Indie” as this band is, an occasional sprite melody wouldn’t be unwelcome.  The band’s big hit, “Two Weeks,” isn’t their best song, but it was by far the biggest crowd pleaser – perhaps from familiarity but also because it has a simpler structure.



Visually, the band does not lack stage presence, but there’s not much to watch as each member stays close to their kits.  The Tabernacle’s lighting worked well, as the only visual focal point in the band was the drummer.



The band played a variety of songs from their last four albums – Veckatimest (4), Yellow House (5), Shields (3), and Painted Ruins (5).  As for their latest, I’m not certain that they chose the best songs.  That album closes well, and I was particularly surprised that they didn’t play “Neighbors.”

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Highlights included “Cut-out,” “Fine For Now,” and “Mourning Sound,” but most disappointing was the encore.  “Colorado” drones on and on repeating the song title and “What now, what now, what now?…” Answer?  Another song please.  “While You Wait for Others” is a fine song, but it’s not a parting gift.  I might have preferred a “gun-shy,” “Half Gate” combo.  Heck. Make it a triple with “Speak in Rounds.”



Overall, this was a very good concert.  Grizzly Bear is fully an Indie band, which might mean that from track to track, some people get it and some don’t.  I’m one of those, but I’ll remain curious for future releases to pick out their little treasures.

Setlist:
  • Losing All Sense
  • Cut-Out
  • Lullabye
  • Ready, Able
  • Four Cypresses
  • Mourning Sound
  • Sleeping Ute
  • Yet Again
  • Fine for Now
  • Two Weeks
  • On a Neck, On a Spit
  • Foreground
  • Knife
  • Three Rings
  • Sun in Your Eyes
Encore:
  • Colorado
  • While You Wait for the Others

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