Bear Xxing Ahead

Grizzly Bear and The xx join forces to bring chill vibes to Merriweather

From left: Grizzly Bear's Chris Taylor, Daniel Rossen, Ed Droste and Chris Bear.
From left: Grizzly Bear’s Chris Taylor, Daniel Rossen, Ed Droste and Chris Bear.

In May 2011, a tweet from Brooklyn indie-rockers Grizzly Bear read, “I particularly like Jamie xx’s remix of ‘Rolling in the Deep’ — almost obsessively.” That referred to The xx member Jamie Smith’s addictive, chopped and screwed, funky version of Adele’s smash single. Two years later, Grizzly Bear’s admiration has manifested as a co-headlining jaunt for the two bands. It’s a natural fit: Both make intricate, enveloping music. Both have been lauded by music site Pitchfork. Both flirt with mainstream success. And both bands can lull you to sleep. Here’s how the two stack up.

Grizzly Bear

Backstory: The band began as a solo project for singer Ed Droste (coined after a nickname for an ex-boyfriend, not after drummer Chris Bear), with the other members slowly joining the fold. 2006’s “Yellow House” — featuring “Knife” — was the band’s first album as a quartet; two years later, they’d open for Radiohead on tour.

Mainstream Appeal: High. Grizzly Bear has fans in high places, such as Ellen DeGeneres and Portia de Rossi; the former invited the group onto her daytime talk show. Jay-Z and Beyoncé have seen the band live. Doo-woppy single “Two Weeks” was Grizzly Bear’s biggest hit, appearing in trailers for various movies, episodes of TV shows and a Volkswagen commercial. But perhaps the biggest sign they were ready for the mainstream came when they penned the song “Slow Life” for “The Twilight Saga: New Moon.”

Pitchfork Approval: 8.6 — The average rating, out of 10, Pitchfork gave Grizzly Bear’s four albums, the highest-rated being last year’s “Shields” at 9.1.

Sleep Factor: Medium. Grizzly Bear songs either rock, or rock you to sleep. The band does have a song called “Sleeping Ute,” but it’s jaunty enough to keep most engaged. The music oscillates between proggy and jammy songs and more sleep-inducing tracks — “Hold Still” and the ornate choral “Foreground,” for example.

From left: The xx's Jamie Smith, Romy Madley Croft and Oliver Sim.
From left: The xx’s Jamie Smith, Romy Madley Croft and Oliver Sim.

The xx

Backstory: Romy Madley Croft and Oliver Sim have been making music together since they were teenagers. The British act then added Jamie Smith, honed their dark, R&B-influenced sound, and put out “xx” in 2009, when they were all just 20.

Mainstream Appeal: Medium. Songs from the group’s debut were featured on TV shows, movies and a commercial during the 2010 Winter Olympics. Rihanna clearly digs The xx’s grooves: She sampled “Intro” for “Drunk on Love,” and her hit collaboration with Drake, “Take Care,” samples Smith’s remix of a Gil Scott-Heron song. The band also was commissioned to write an original track, “Together,” for the movie “The Great Gatsby.”

Pitchfork Approval: 8.1 — The average rating, out of 10, Pitchfork gave The xx’s two albums, which was brought down by a 7.5 for 2012’s “Coexist.”

Sleep Factor: High. Just try to stay awake while listening to The xx. Minimalist, ambient production and Croft’s sultry, ghostly vocals set the stage for nap time even better than a white-noise machine.

Merriweather Post Pavilion, 10475 Little Patuxent Parkway, Columbia, Md.; Sun., 6 p.m., $30-$40; 410-715-5550.
Rudi Greenberg is Express' Weekend Pass editor and comedy columnist.
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Rudi Greenberg | June 13, 2013