There are few bands out there whose music is engaging enough to hold an audience’s attention even in the worst of conditions. Brooklyn quartet Grizzly Bear are just such a band, and on Sunday night their Cedar Cultural Center audience was definitely tested by the venue’s oven-like temperatures. The evening’s only solace from the heat was in the gorgeously tranquil electro-folk harmonies that swept through the audience like a refreshing draft of air. Sure, it was a sweltering mess of body heat—but regardless, it was also one of the best live performances of the year.
Another Brooklyn band (aren’t they all these days) opened the show: five-piece group Here We Go Magic. With the aid of some really stunning guitar and bass instrumentation (not to mention keys), HWGM absolutely wowed the audience with their Talking-Heads-meet-Yeasayer experimental pop. The band particularly connected with their last two songs, “Fangala” and a stunningly well orchestrated “Tunnelvision.”
Grizzly Bear took the stage shortly thereafter, colored LED lights lighting up the young men’s faces like jack-o-lanterns. They began the set with “Southern Point,” the superb lead song from this year’s album Veckatimest. They then proceeded to treat the audience to a wide mix of gems from the recent record as well as a few tracks from 2006’s Yellow House; even throwing in “Fix It” from their 2004 release Horn of Plenty. Throughout the performance the venue’s stage lights pulsed along with the music, lowering for the tune’s quiet moments and flashing brilliantly during the sonic peaks. Band members Daniel Rossen and Ed Droste tag-teamed the lead vocal duties, with bassist Chris Taylor occasionally adding in his otherworldy high-pitched wail. The sound in the Cedar has never been better, which each intricate layer of vocal harmony coming through as clear as a bell.
Though it wouldn’t be a stretch to say that every song was a standout, it was undoubtedly the slow burning ballad “While You Wait for the Others” that seemed to leave the most mouths agape. While it was followed by the splendid show closer “On a Neck, On a Spit,” the gravitas of “While You Wait” was such that the tune hung in the mind long after its end. Surprisingly the band finished out the evening with no encore, even with the enthusiastic audience stomping for more. You could hardly blame them, though; while the audience may have been enchanted enough to not mind the heat, I certainly wouldn’t expect the band to feel the same way.
Jon Behm (firstname.lastname@example.org) is a Minneapolis-based photographer and writer. While his specialty is music, Jon has a wide variety of interests that tend to take him all over the Twin Cities on a daily basis.
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