Thursday, April 11, 2013

Grizzly Bear at ACL TV

Unlike many of my friends and compadres, I was not in attendance when Grizzly Bear performed at Stubb's on Monday night. I'm sure it was an excellent performance but I'm not sure the crowd was attentive nor am I sure that the sound at the outdoor amphitheater captured the nuance of a Grizzly Bear performance. Lucky for me, I was in attendance last night when Grizzly Bear made their first appearance on the ACL TV stage. Anyone who has had the pleasure of attending an ACL TV taping can attest to the fact that it is an ideal circumstance for seeing a concert. Any show at the ACL Live venue is going to sound great but there is something about the presence of cameras that GENERALLY puts people on their best behavior. There is a rule about not using your cell phone during the performance, which can be tough since everyone(including me) likes to get photos these days but it's also a welcome restriction that helps the audience to stay in the moment. Since the performance is being taped for television the sound is even more perfect and pristine than a standard show at the venue would be.

Last night the ACL TV studio was an attentive listening room. I'm sure there are sections of the crowd where people were chatting but the section I was in was completely silent and focused on the performance taking place on stage. The members of Grizzly Bear all project a bit of shyness and their stage banter is almost completely non-existent but they showed the crowd last night why they are one of the most sought after touring bands in indie-music today.

The setlist relied heavily on the newest record, which makes sense since this tour is to promote Shields however they have not abandon the older songs that their fans love. As performers it is evident that each player elevates the band as a whole. All four members of Grizzly Bear have musical projects separate from the band and they are all good but when these four men come together to create music they balance each other's strengths and weaknesses. Last night their sound was rounded-out by a touring band member, bringing the total number of players to five. Each person on the stage played more than one instrument, sometimes simultaneously.

Like most of the crowd I was completely enraptured by the performance. The set highlight for me was the 2nd to last song, Half Gate which is also the song that inspired the beautiful, limited-edition poster. There were moments that I consciously thought about a song not making it to the episode last night. I love Grizzly Bear but some of their tunes just aren't ready for primetime just yet. If we're being honest they are a fairly risky booking for ACL TV to begin with. I adore their music but I imagine people in rural America tuning in on some future Saturday night being completely perplexed by Grizzly Bear. Maybe not as perplexed as they were by the tUnE-yArDs episode but still.

All in all last night's performance was spectacular and those of us in attendance were treated to a couple of songs that weren't on the setlist including The Knife. Keep your eyes on the ACL TV blog to find out when the Grizzly Bear episode will air in your town.