L'Olympia, Montreal, QC, September 23
Brooklyn four-piece Grizzly Bear closed Pop Montreal with a pitch-perfect performance in support of their new album, Shields. Grizzly Bear are known for being a highly democratic band, from their songwriting process to their live show, as members Ed Droste, Daniel Rossen, Chris Taylor and Chris Bear (whose drum kit was on the far right) even all aligned at the front of the stage. A somewhat odd stage arrangement, but one perhaps partly out of necessity, considering their novel stage decor of huge jellyfish-like light bulbs that floated up and down behind them in sync with the rhythm.
Starting off with "Speak in Rounds" and "Sleeping Ute" off of Shields, the atmospheric indie rockers went on to deliver a well-balanced set of favourites from their previous two highly acclaimed albums, 2006's Yellow House and 2009's Veckatimest, as well as a hearty serving of their ambitious new material. Droste, Taylor and Rossen made good use of their multi-instrumentalist chops throughout the set, Droste switching between guitar, synthesizer and harpsichord; Taylor, during any given song, playing bass, clarinet and saxophone, among other instruments; and Rossen going back and forth from guitar to piano often mid-song. Although the group were sometimes sheathed in darkness as the jellyfish lighting display took visual precedent, there was enough going on to keep fans mystified even without the ingenious light engineering.
For the inevitable encore, Grizzly Bear served up a heartfelt rendition of beloved Yellow House song "Knife." The crowd seemed justifiably sad it had to end; the band have such a full-bodied repertoire, it seemed as if they could've played for another half hour without stretching anybody's patience too thin. Seeing as this was their first show in Montreal in many years — Chris Taylor remarked that the last time they played here was at Club Lambi, a "weird venue to play at," in his words — hopefully they'll be back again soon.
To see Exclaim!'s Pop Montreal photo gallery, head here.
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