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Grizzly Bear at the Vogue Theatre

Grizzly Bear photo

Grizzly Bear at VirginFest 2009, Toronto. Jon Healy photo.

Review – Grizzly Bear at the Vogue Theatre, Vancouver Oct 14 2009

– review by Kate Reid

The overgrown choir boys of Grizzly Bear hosted a veritable church service at the Vogue last night, belting out four-part harmonies to a packed house of fervent Vancouverites.

Their set began unhurriedly with “Southern Point”, the slow-building first track from the band’s critically hailed 2009 album, Veckatimist. Despite a tentative, toe-in-the-water opening, Grizzly Bear wasted no time racking up apogee after holy apogee and maintaining the righteous energy long into their too-short set.

The stage props were spare but elegant: glass mason jars hung suspended from tall, ersatz power lines that surrounded the band and complemented the Cape Cod feel – Veckatimest gets its name from an island off its coast. Grizzly Bear may take a lot of flack for relying heavily on reverb, but when those mason jars lit like floating fireflies, those ghostly vocal echoes only added to the pantheistic atmosphere.

Singer Ed Droste cradled an autoharp for “Lullaby”, a waltzy track from the band’s subdued second album, Yellow House, and bassist Chris Taylor broke out the loop pedal to envelop the lilting berceuse with some haunting clarinet and flute samples.

“Fine For Now” got sandwiched between the band’s biggest singles, “Knife” and “Two Weeks”, but there was no quelling the zeal of the crowd – though the trudging “Colorado” did manage to bring an unmistakable reverence to the air.

Misty blue lights beamed into the crowd at the end of “I Live With You”, but the set instead concluded with an inspiring rendition of “On A Neck, On A Spit”. When the band came out for their encore, someone in the audience yelled out, “We want you inside us!” and the Bear answered with the Crystals’ “He Hit Me (And It Felt Like A Kiss)”.

A song about domestic abuse may seem an odd choice to end the night with, but “He Hit Me” harkens back to the lyrics of “Knife” and Grizzly Bear’s own plea for pain: “I want you to know, when I look in your eyes, with every blow comes another lie.” Heavy stuff, yes, but sin is how most religions get their start and Grizzly Bear is well on its way to amassing a zealous flock of believers.

Setlist – Grizzly Bear at the Vogue Theatre, Vancouver (Oct 14 2009):

1. Southern Point
2. Cheerleader
3. Lullaby
4. Little Brother (Electric)
5. Knife
6. Fine For Now
7. Two Weeks
8. Colorado
9. Deep Blue Sea
10. Ready, Able
11. I Live With You

12. Foreground

13. While You Wait For The Others

14. On a Neck, On a Spit

15. He Hit Me

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