Grizzly Bear w/Brooklyn Philharmonic

Grizzly Bear + Brooklyn Philharmonic

I went to see Grizzly Bear perform with the Brooklyn Philharmonic at BAM in Brooklyn, at the Howard Gilman Opera House. Guess where Grizzly Bear are from? You guessed it. This was sort of a homecoming for them, and I believe it was their first performance since finishing their forthcoming album, VECKATIMEST. Their last performance was in October.

So how was the show?

Well, I really wanted to see the opening act, Final Fantasy, which is fronted by Owen Pallett, the guy who writes arrangements for the likes of Arcade Fire, Beirut, Patrick Wolf and so on. Unfortunately, I mismanaged the evening and was eating dinner through most of his set; I only got to hear the end of his last song, and it sounded spectacular. He would know what to do with that orchestra.

All that aside, I have to say I left the show wanting a little more. Grizzly Bear definitely performed well, and the venue must have been their best venue they’ve ever performed in (this was my first time seeing them, tragically), and a perhaps bit daunting at that. And for that reason, the night came off a little bit lackluster. With the full force of the Brooklyn Philharmonic behind them, they seemed a bit like timid high-schoolers. They said themselves during their encore, after the orchestra left, how it was terrifying to have the orchestra behind them.

The set-list did include most of the strong tracks off of Yellow House (they opened with easier, which was lovely, but no knife which makes sense, but it was my first GB concert, but oh well). They played several new songs (Two Weeks , and a couple older songs they were performing for the first time, like Campfire). Several of the songs, however, had me losing my focus (Foreground, is that ironic?). They didn’t carry the distinctness of some of their stronger material, and I’m just hoping that is a product of being in their infancy live, and not a reflection of the new album’s potential. I liked their rendition of She Hit Me (It Felt Like a Kiss) a lot. Droste changed the “She” to a “He”, however, but I believe he is gay, so that would make sense? I also really liked one of the new songs where the orchestra swelled with the band at the song’s climax (Ready, Able).

Daniel Rossen stole the show for me, with his kermit banjo moment and otherwise sharp, hautning vocals. Ed Droste was on point vocally, but there was so much much reverb on his mic I wondered if I was hearing flashes of Morten Harket. Meanwhile, Chris Taylor was channeling his best Jonny Greenwood impression, going so far as to play his pan flute from a crouched position for some unknown reason. Chris Bear was busy flailing his bangs to and fro, frolicking with his tambourine-adorned high hat, and generally driving the ladies wild with his boyish good looks.

I attended the show with my friend Patrick, who was marveling on the subway at how much better Lykke Li was to him in concert than on her album. I have to say the opposite was true tonight for me. I didn’t get the same magic that drew me to Grizzly Bear in the first place. Maybe it was my mood, being lost in Manhattan with family so far away. I don’t know.

For the most part, I found the set to be overly quiet, bordering on lethargic, and everything just felt a touch bland to my ears. Several of their classic tracks (little brother) sounded slightly elevator music-ish in the hands of Michael Christie and his orchestra.

At any rate, I can’t say I want my money back (there was defnitely plenty to enjoy), but I can’t put it on any Top 10’s either. Let’s just hope the new album makes up for what I missed out on tonight.

One of the better songs of the night, most recently appearing on the Dark was the Night compilation:

“Deep Blue Sea” @

21 Responses to
“Grizzly Bear w/Brooklyn Philharmonic”

  1. hmm March 1, 2009 at 9:31 am #

    Weird, I was there and thought it was magical and amazing. I love them at clubs a bit more b/c it can rock harder, but this was fantastic

  2. Jon March 1, 2009 at 2:50 pm #

    You obviously aren’t a fan if you can’t remember one of the song names and make comments about Eds sexuality. Chris always plays the flute crouched down, he’s not trying to do an impression of Jonny Greenwood, YES THAT’S RIGHT, JONNY, you can’t even spell his name right. And they’ve said they don’t want to play Knife anymore, they are sick of it and that’s all you seem like you wanted to hear was the stuff they are known for, not their beautiful and well written pieces. It pissed me off that people like you get to go and see them and I couldn’t because I live far away. Maybe you should just hold your criticisms and go see Radiohead over and over again since it seems like that’s all you care about and that’s what you were expecting at a GRIZZLY BEAR concert. God damn it.

  3. foie-gras style March 1, 2009 at 3:13 pm #

    it really WAS amazing, how could you not be floored by new tracks Ready, Able and Foreground? sure CT said he was scared shitless, but they really brought the house down, ironically, when they were by themSELVES!

    and it’s JONNY greenwood. no “h.” since you love namedropping him so much.

    sad that you didn’t enjoy it. sure, not top 5 concert, but wow some of this was really once in a lifetime experience. central and remote and reprise live? come on now.

  4. foie-gras style March 1, 2009 at 3:14 pm #

    and seriously how could you think He Hit Me was She Hit Me and ed changed it cuz he’s gay?

    great going there.

  5. Todd March 1, 2009 at 4:11 pm #

    I agree, their set was slow at times, especially the second half. ‘While You Wait for the Others’ did seem strangely subdued. But timid high-schoolers? Really? Were you there for ‘Two Weeks’ or ‘Ready, Able’? or ‘Colorado’? The first half of that set blew my socks off.

    And I couldn’t disagree with you more about Rossen/’Deep Blue Sea’. Reverb drenched or not, Droste’s voice was astounding, and he stole the show. (And he didn’t re-title the Crystals song – it was always “He Hit Me (and it felt like a kiss)”).

    I apologize for the snarkiness.

  6. invertebrae March 1, 2009 at 4:18 pm #


    So what you guys are saying basically, is that I’m a homophobic asshole who only likes to watch Radiohead live. I also apparently have no right paying $100+ to support a band and see their show, simply because I’m not the world’s single biggest Grizzly Bear Fan. Oh, and also my misspelling of someone’s name, and lack of an eidetic set-list memory means I am unqualified to appreciate music.

    Got it.

    And here I thought I was just a guy with a blog who thought last night’s show was okay and not pure perfection. My bad.

    I WILL, however, apologize for my Ed Droste comment, but not because I said he was gay (who cares if he is or not?). I just realized that the original song title WAS, in fact, “He Hit Me (And It Felt Like a Kiss)”. Totally my bad, and my apologies to any of you if my human presumptions gave offense. My comment was truly benign.

    Okay, I have to get back to my all-day shuffle session of Radiohead’s entire catalog. It’s going to be so sweet.


  7. invertebrae March 1, 2009 at 4:24 pm #

    Also @Jon, who chose to use a fake email name ([email protected] I believe it was):

    You forgot the hyphen in “well-written”.

    Life’s little ironies.


    P.S. Sorry we didn’t get to enjoy the concert together, maybe next time you can save up and fly out and we can be concert buddies.

  8. vince March 1, 2009 at 4:31 pm #


    Try going out more often and not be such a psychotic fanbot. Ryan’s comment was a fair and knowledgeable. Maybe not down to every psycho detail, but Im pretty sure he doesn’t suffer from obsessive grizzly disorder. You should spend your days on bashing everything that isn’t perfect in your indie utopia and get the fuck of Ryan’s blog…

    -vince (my real name)

  9. Jon March 1, 2009 at 4:41 pm #

    Sorry, but I don’t believe I was name-dropping “well-written”. If you’re going to compare someone to somebody else, and act like they are God, it would seem like you would know how to spell their name that’s all. My bad guys it’s WELL-WRITTEN. Good comeback. And who’s to say that isn’t my email?

    And I’m not bashing you because you gave them a bad review, we all have freedom of speech. Your points just didn’t make sense and it seemed like you were basically just comparing them to someone that they aren’t even in the same category as. And the gay comment was just a little off-putting. It just wasn’t a well-written review of a concert, that’s all. Sorry.

  10. invertebrae March 1, 2009 at 4:45 pm #

    Thanks for clearing that up “Jon”.

    My points may not have made sense to you, but Jonny Greenwood does his own arrangements, Grizzly Bear, last night, did not. And to me, it showed. How does that not make sense?

    Maybe next time you can see the show for yourself, and then post some educated rebuttals, instead of blind fan-boy garbage.


  11. foie-gras style March 1, 2009 at 4:51 pm #

    i was there. and you’re opinions are wrong. i win the internets.

  12. foie-gras style March 1, 2009 at 4:52 pm #

    omg i made a typo. can i haz 2nd chance plox?

  13. invertebrae March 1, 2009 at 5:01 pm #

    Oh also, the song I could not remember was actually “central and remote”. The orchestra sounded lovely on that song, though you could argue that that song was already beutifully arranged on the LP.

    I stand by my 50% elevator music opinion, however, whether it offends Grizzly Bear’s three biggest fans or not.

    And a side-note, this was my first Grizzly Bear concert, so I was not aware which songs they never played before, and which they have stricken from their set-lists. Cut me some slack.


  14. foie-gras style March 1, 2009 at 5:34 pm #

    ryan you’re so cute, you knew this was coming. like posting a negative review about radiohead on atease. streets is watching son.

  15. invertebrae March 1, 2009 at 5:36 pm #

    It was late, I wasn’t thinking. Things are so much clearer with caffeine. I’m still a big fan, and enjoyed the evening.


  16. foie-gras style March 1, 2009 at 5:43 pm #

    so i do assume you’re on atease. join the hype thread!

  17. hmm March 1, 2009 at 10:48 pm #

    I’m a total fan boy of GB too but I have to LOL at this comment thread. Kinda rad in a way that people are reading your blog now at least, no?
    Biggest comment thread ever?

    Iit’s totally cool if you didn’t love it, but I had shivers.

    That said, I will say my friends in other seats had TOTALLY different sonic experience. Very strange how different areas of that space sound so different.

    I think maybe if I was a new Grizzly Bear fan and not familiar of their work or seen them a bunch I might have been confused as this was definitely not the “crowd pleaser” set, as they didn’t play things like Knife, but for me this was a really dense magical awesome time and the vocals were GLORIOUS

    Totally respect your review even though yOU IZ WRONG


  18. invertebrae March 1, 2009 at 10:56 pm #

    Thank you @hmm for at least being civil about it. I never once in my post implied that others should find no reason to enjoy the set. I just personally found about half the songs kind of snoozy.

    The other half, as I listed in my top 5 later this afternoon, I found to be gorgeous and at times spine tingling. So yeah, not a failing grade by any means, but everything seemed so dang reserved and tense on stage, didn’t you feel that? In no particular order…

    central and remote
    ready, able
    two weeks
    deep blue sea

    he hit me

    while you wait for the others

    That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.


  19. Hans March 2, 2009 at 2:20 pm #

    Weird. My list is completely different:

    Central and Remote
    He Hit Me
    While You Wait for the Others
    Two Weeks
    Ready, Able



    I agree that Daniel Rossen stole the show, however, I thought that Ed’s vocals were possibly the best I’ve heard live. Period. Grizzly Bear’s music is full of nuanced vocal layering and the guys managed to capture and expand upon that with the assistance of the effects on his mic and with the addition of the arrangements (the horn section in particular floated my boat) by the Always-Great Nico Muhly. BAM’s refined and flawless acoustics, rich history, and the phenomenally respectful and attentive audience added to the overwhelming specialness of the performance. Chris Bear never seems to get enough credit, and I just wanted to say how fantastic he was last night. He and Daniel had a very special give-and-take throughout the show and in their records, something that was very interesting to see live.

    May 26th. Veckatimest. Brooklyn waits with bated breath.

  20. invertebrae March 2, 2009 at 2:36 pm #

    keep in mind hans, this is the first time i have seen this band. i don’t know what to compare it to. i get the feeling you are a slightly bigger fan than i am of their catalog, and so hearing the new songs gave you goosebumps just to hear new material. i wasn’t as caught up in that. i love yellow house, but outside of that, i don’t really know/love horn of plenty as much. i know they made the friend ep.

    i agree, my friend and i both marveled at chris bear’s drumming. it’s very defining of the band’s sound. well many things are.

    however, the songs i listed as boring just didn’t move me, that’s what i’m saying. i fully understand how someone else may have loved the show, but what can i say?

    BY THE WAY, the more i reflect upon the show, the more i like it, isn’t that funny?

    excited for veckatimest…


    p.s. you forgot to list easier and deep blue sea. where do you place those ones? i thought both of them were GREAT.

  21. Erika October 11, 2009 at 1:40 am #

    I like Grizzly Bear’s songs and I liked what this reviewer wrote b/c he or she isn’t a die hard fan of the band and it gave a newer fan like me a chance to hear something other than blind praise. I don’t think the reviewer was dogging the band but just stating an honest account of his/her experience. Why be so sensitive about Ed Droste being gay; I’ve read in several places where he states that himself and it is a part of who he is as a member of that band. I don’t think his sexual orientation can be disregarded so casually. I believe the song title is called He Hit Me and It Felt Like a Kiss so Ed Droste wasn’t really changing any lyrics.

    Thanks for posting the review. Hope I get a chance to see them live myself sometime.

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