Grizzly Bear at 9:30 Club: A gentle roar from Brooklyn


Chris Taylor, left, and Ed Droste of the indie-rock quartet Grizzly Bear perform during the first of two sold-out shows at the 9:30 Club in Washington, D.C. (Kyle Gustafson/For The Washington Post)
September 21, 2012

Grizzly Bear is suspicious of momentum. At a sold-out 9:30 Club on Thursday — with another sold-out show set for Friday — the Brooklyn quartet emphasized how much it relies on pulling the rug out from under the energy it so meticulously crafts.

“A Simple Answer,” the best song on new album “Shields,” was a prime example. A piano riff, intoxicating harmonies and roiling drum line combined to create an upward thrust of anticipation that made the room crackle with excitement. Just when the crowd seemed ready to burst, the song abruptly shifted into a dreamy, sideways free fall.

And so it went for most of the nearly 100-minute set. Playing the vast majority of its richly layered new record, leader Ed Droste was delighted with everything: the venue (“one of our favorite clubs”), the band’s new “jellyfish” lighting (glowing glass orbs that rose and descended enchantingly) and the sound — he grooved on every song like he was a member of the audience.

The band – Droste, drummer Christopher Bear and multi-instrumentalists Daniel Rossen and Chris Taylor, supplemented by a keyboardist — reproduced the sumptuous tones of songs like “Sleeping Ute,” “Half Gate” and “Little Brother” admirably. Taken as a whole, the set served to emphasize how Grizzly Bear has learned to master the spaces in between its shaggy, (and, yes, sometimes listless) dream-folk melodies.

Listening to “Half Gate,” played near the end of the night, everything became clear: Grizzly Bear has grown into a mature, lustrous and balanced band whose melodies are emphasized by pausing within their own songs to appreciate them. And in our madly entangled world, that’s a small bit of genius to be savored.

style@washpost.com

Foster is a freelance writer.

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