Grizzly Bear & Gravenhurst

Scala, London, 21 May 2007

Written by Marco Barbieri

There’s a lot of new music around at the moment, including a small number of bands that stand out from the crowd because of the beauty of their songs: Grizzly Bear is probably one of the best examples.

The band can be well considered as the indie face of Warp Records. Together with Broadcast and a couple of other groups they represent the less electronic oriented side of the Sheffield label. After the release of the two beautiful albums Horn of Plenty and Yellow House they are back in London to amend for a previously cancelled gig.

At the Scala they’re supported by English band Gravenhurst. The place is packed and the concert starts perfectly on time at 8:45 pm when the three English guys hit the stage. Upon hearing their record you may be impressed by the strength of this typical post-rock project: whispering voices, long instrumental parts and a lot of crescendos: Nothing new, but well done. However, there is something in their performance that is not quite right: they seem to be too distant from the public, mechanical in their playing and, although they are definitely capable of recreating the sound of last album Black Holes in the Sand, the final impression is that it is probably better listening to them at home, in a sad mood and possibly on a rainy day.

As for Grizzly Bear the impression is absolutely the opposite. I came to the concert as usual, that is, quite unprepared. Never seen a video, never read an interview or a review. My idea of them was totally based on an obsessive playing of their record. This kind of approach has its pros and cons: sometimes it happens that you listen to an album so much that you fall in love with it. I have to say this approach can take away focus from the complexity of the music, and I was really surprised by what I saw.

There is not really a leading vocalist, the voices mix together, every member of the band participates in the building of the melody, and what is even more surprising, they’re all damn good at singing. Consequently every track is based on an intersection of vocals and samples that represent the trademark of this New York based band (Knife is a perfect example).

Poetic and delicate: an elegant and beautiful performance, Grizzly Bear concentrated more on their last release Easier, though On a Neck, On A Spit was definitely the most impacting track of the concert. Unfortunately they didn’t play Showcase; only a minor error on their part…

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3 Responses to “Grizzly Bear & Gravenhurst”

  1. Karen Agena says:

    Feist (and I have heard supposedly Grizzly Bear (though I have no concrete evidence of such, but are playing in Seattle togther) is setting up shop for a night in the Variety Playhouse Friday June 15th. Sadly I will not be attendance. After reading this article I am saddened that such bands hate South Carolina because Grizzly Bear is one that is not to be missed even if they aren’t playing in Atlanta.

  2. ben says:

    yes , yes and more yes. great fucking band. gutted that I missed them this time.

  3. Bakari says:

    A fine quotation is a diamond on the finger of a man of wit, and a pebble in the hand of a fool.

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