Grizzly Bear conclude BK Steel run with serpentwithfeet (night 3 review, setlist)
As you know if you've seen Grizzly Bear before, the four members -- Ed Droste, Daniel Rossen, Chris Taylor, and Christopher Bear -- all perform in a straight horizontal line at the front of the stage. It makes so much sense that they do this, as each member of Grizzly Bear really do feel like equals. Each are experts at their instrument, and all four members have lush voices that blend together brilliantly when they sing overlapping parts and when they harmonize. This was all on display at Brooklyn Steel last night (11/4), their third of three sold-out shows at the venue, both during songs off their new album Painted Ruins and during old favorites. Chris Taylor reminded you how well he uses his bass as a lead instrument on both new song "Mourning Sound" and Veckatimest's "Cheerleader," which was played for the first time in three years last night. Christopher Bear's drumming often works to embellish Grizzly Bear's sound, rather than to provide a standard rock beat, as new song "Losing All Sense" and older crowdpleasers like "Two Weeks" and "While You Wait for the Others" showed off. Daniel Rossen flaunted his guitar chops with the delicate arpeggios and screaming leads of new song "Neighbors," just one song after doing the same on proggy Shields opener "Sleeping Ute." Ed Droste fleshed out the songs with some electronics here and some guitar there, but mostly focused on his powerful lead vocals, which soared across the large venue. And any of the countless times that the singers brought their voices together, the harmonies were truly angelic. (They also have longtime live member Aaron Arntz behind them on electronics and horns. "The only one of us who actually still lives here!" Ed remarked.)
As I also wrote during my review of Painted Ruins, the remarkable thing about the new album -- their first in five years -- is how dedicated Grizzly Bear are to the unique world of sound that they've created. When Veckatimest came out in 2009, psychedelic pop was a major trend in indie and Grizzly Bear were at the forefront of it. That music isn't part of the zeitgeist now the way it was eight years ago, but Painted Ruins proves that Grizzly Bear won't let trends dictate their sound, and last night's show was a reminder that they're better off this way. If you came into it hoping for big singles like "Two Weeks," "Yet Again" and "Knife," you were treated to all of those and there's a good chance that new singles "Mourning Sound" and "Neighbors" were just as satisfying. If you came hoping to hear the new material, older deeper cuts like "Speak In Rounds" or "On A Neck, On A Spit" probably resonated just as strongly. Each Grizzly Bear album has its own distinct vibe, but each album is also a deeper dive into a sound that is increasingly unlike anyone else out there. It's what makes songs from 2006 sound natural next to songs from 2017, and it's the reason that last night's show stood apart from any other show I've seen this year.
All three Brooklyn Steel shows had a very well-matched opener, serpentwithfeet, who also opened for Perfume Genius at the same venue earlier this year (and recently played cool local festivals Basilica Soundscape and Afropunk). serpentwithfeet, aka Josiah Wise, almost never abandoned his gorgeous R&B croon, whether he was communicating with the crowd or actually singing his songs. He rotated between singing over his orchestral-meets-electronic backing tracks and playing songs solo at a piano. Whichever mode he was in, he sounded great and his voice really was fantastic. The melodic (and often funny) stage banter only added to how captivating he was.
Pictures from night one are here and in the gallery above. Check out last night's setlist below. Grizzly Bear also performed on CBS This Morning yesterday and you can watch the videos from that below as well.
Grizzly Bear at Brooklyn Steel - 11/4/17 Setlist (via)
Wasted Acres (Intro)
Speak in Rounds
Losing All Sense
Fine For Now
While You Wait for the Others
On a Neck, On a Spit
Sun In Your Eyes