Grizzly Bear and Beach House – Twice

Posted by jill on March 14, 2010

Grizzly Bear at the Roundhouse 14/3, originally uploaded by jellybeanz.

This is the critical point for Grizzly Bear. Where do they go from here? Sold out two nights at the Roundhouse, critical acclaim everywhere and even an appearance on the Twilight soundtrack. There are two options, one where they follow the popular route and end up writing beautiful, if slightly dull, 3 or 4 minute pop songs. The other, which seemed so promising from earlier live performances, is to carry on with their excellent musicianship, pushing at the rhythms and arrangements while still carrying a tune.

Sadly on the form of this weekend, there is a fear that they will go for the first option. On the performances over this weekend, the tracks off Veckatimest were a bit polished. Yes, the harmonies were beautiful, Chris Taylor did his usual thing of wrangling sounds from his various instruments and Christopher Bear played with control and did loud and soft at the various points. But it seemed that they were just going through the motions. Perhaps it was the fact that these shows are at the end of 15 months of touring, and the band just need a holiday.

Oddly, it was the songs off the earlier albums which stood out more, possibly because while they played the same few songs off the latest album, they mixed up the set list of older songs. It was difficult to choose which of the two shows were better, Saturday night had Colorado (which is always great live) and Sunday had Shift and Fix It.

It’s all summed up by an overheard comment at the end of the night ‘Ohmygod, this is one of those shows you will tell people about in the future, like Arcade Fire at the Ally Pally’. Precisely, and what happened to Arcade Fire’s music after the first album? Let’s hope Grizzly Bear have time to take a break, regroup, and keep pushing themselves.

In a year or two, Beach House might end up in a similar position too. For now, they are just about carrying on doing what they do well without having to adapt for a new audience. After seeing them last year at their tiny show at the Flea Pit in East London, it was good to see them perform again, having now heard the album. The stage shrouded by dramatic dim lights, Victoria Legrand’s voice was clearly the star of their set. It was a woozy and relaxed start to both evenings, which set the mood for the rest of the night.


With added orchestra

Posted by jill on October 31, 2009

On two nights this week, I attended two band/orchestra concerts at the Barbican. For one thing, these gigs being performed in the place where normally classical concerts take place, these shows were great because so many of the problems of the standard gigs did not occur. Somehow, being seated in a grand concert hall, people did not talk through songs, we had a comfortable seats, and had great views. For all their similarities on paper, the two shows also had very different outcomes.

Efterklang and the Britten Sinfonia, originally uploaded by jellybeanz.

First of the week was Efterklang and the Britten Sinfonia. I only wanted to go to this show because I had wanted to see the support band, Jaga Jazzist, for the last few years (it turned out that this was their first show in the UK for about 4/5 years). Sadly, a concert hall set up does not really work well for bands who rely on amplification, however they are probably worth checking out again next year when they are back in a ‘normal’ venue. Prior to getting tickets for this show I had not heard of Efterklang at all. The performance was a great introduction to the band, and it was refreshing to see how the band had integrated with the chamber orchestra, with the band members performing amongst the orchestra members.

Grizzly Bear and the London Symphony Orchestra, originally uploaded by jellybeanz.

With the quality of the Efterklang collaboration and the programme notes suggesting that this would not be the typical orchestra performing as a backing to the band collaboration, it was disappointing to see that at times Grizzly Bear and the London Symphony Orchestra was just that. Maybe it was just that the months of anticipation and the excellent Grizzly Bear shows over the summer had made me think that the orchestra collaboration would be truly special. Yes, at times, especially for the grander songs like, Ready Able, I Live With You and encore track Colorado, the orchestra did fill out the songs. However, on some other tracks, the band almost drowned out the orchestra (but perhaps this was because I was sitting too close to to the front) and the show did not have the joyful energy that was present at the Efterklang show.

Still, it was a beautiful show to watch, and it’s only that Grizzly Bear set such high standards that I had my hopes up for something extraordinary. I hope they recorded the set, and some day release it to show what it should really sound.


Grizzly Bear @ Koko

Posted by jill on August 18, 2009

Grizzly Bear, originally uploaded by jellybeanz.

If you look at my stats, there is one band who is easily my most played band. Unlike most bands who now rush out a new album every year, Grizzly Bear take their time to create songs that are extremely well thought out and beautifully arranged.

Amazingly Veckatimest comes off even better live than on record. While sometimes the album seems to plod along, the live energy drive the songs through. And being a band that takes risks with pushing their arrangements, they even attempted to perform the more ambitious tracks from the album, such as ‘I live with you’. While it didn’t quite work when there was just the four band members performing, it worked as a tempting preview of what the show at the Barbican (with orchestra) may bring.


Favourite gigs of 2007

Posted by jill on December 31, 2007

1. Daft Punk @ Wamu Theater, Seattle, WA, USA – 29th July
2. !!!, Holy Fuck, Midnight Juggernauts @ Koko, London, UK – 7th November
3. Dan Deacon @ The Dome, London UK – 7th December
4. Capitol Hill Block Party @ Seattle, WA, USA – 27th July
Girl Talk @ Bardens Boudoir, London, UK – 11th December
Matt and Kim and Jonquil @ The Barfly, London, UK – 9th November
5. Electrelane @ Koko, London, UK – 29th November
6. Acoustic Ladyland @ the Zodiac, Oxford UK – 29th April
7. Grizzly Bear @ the Scala, London, UK – 21st May
8. Silver Mt Zion and Jonquil @ the Zodiac, London, UK – 3rd May
9. Youthmovies, TTNG, Jonquil, Meet me in St Louis @ a house party, Oxford, UK 14th April
10. Beirut @ Rough Trade East, London, UK – 5th November
11. The Shins @ Bush Hall, London, UK – 26th February
12. Forward Russia @ Borderline, London, UK – 6th December