Tag Archives: Grizzly Bear


Daniel Rossen’s Brooklyn Homecoming

April 16th, 2014

Daniel Rossen – Music Hall of Williamsburg – April 15, 2014

(Photo: Dan Rickershauser)

(Photo: Dan Rickershauser)

Daniel Rossen and William Tyler make a great touring duo, like a fine wine perfectly paired with a gourmet meal. They were only on the road together for about a month before ending it last night at Music Hall of Williamsburg. For a night already feeling surreal due to a heavy rain that slowly turned into an unexpected and unseasonal snow shower, the one-two of Tyler and Rossen evoked an even more surreal sense of spiritual strangeness. Tyler’s music gets called a lot of things, but usually Americana is thrown in somewhere there. The Nashville native’s music in many ways reflects the sum of our vast and expansive country—the music that arises out of the heartland. “I’m always trying to pay attention to the melody of every landscape,” said Tyler before “Country of Illusion,” referring to the sound as the land’s “eternal ramble.” His fingerpicked acoustic guitar work does have its way of blurring into a meditative hum, a Zen-inducing sound on par with the word om. Much of his music carried a more dissonant sound than on his recordings, perhaps because he was so far from his home that inspired the original compositions.

Rossen, a New Yorker since his college years, inspires a similar vibe. His music sometimes evokes that feeling you get when you zoom out of the chaos of New York City and distill it down to its odd feeling of harmony. Rossen’s made an impressive amount of music that spans across two other bands, Grizzly Bear and Department of Eagles, in addition to his own solo work, which compared to his other material, feels much more stripped down, especially when he’s performing with just a guitar, piano or (for the final song of his set) a banjo. Dubbing the night “the most homecoming show I have ever had in my entire life,” Rossen expressed how happy he was to return, rewarding his hometown accordingly. With just an EP to his own name, Rossen included several new songs and older ones that haven’t been recorded in his set. Additionally, there were also some unexpected covers, including Townes Van Zandt’s “Kathleen” and a tune by Department of Eagles collaborator Fred Nicolaus. For his encore, Rossen did his version of Judee Sill’s “Waterfall,” one of the incredibly underappreciated singer-songwriter’s most beautiful numbers. There’s too much to thank Rossen for, but bringing this song to my attention is pretty high on that list.
—Dan Rickershauser




Brazos Close Tour with Ski Lodge Tonight at Mercury Lounge

December 17th, 2013

What began as a home recording project for singer-songwriter Martin Crane in Austin, Texas, has become, with the help of drummer Ian Chang and bassist Spenzer Zahn, the Brooklyn-based alt-rock trio Brazos. Crane’s debut full-length, Phosphorescent Blues, out in 2009, led to opening for big-name bands like Vampire Weekend, the National and Grizzly Bear. But he opted to expand his group’s sound with the addition of Chang and Zahn for the second LP, the more ambitious Saltwater (stream it below). The Austin Chronicle glowingly calls it “emboldened and expansive, torn between childlike wonder and quarter-life introspection.” Brazos (above, performing “Charm” live at Braund Sound) have been on the road with Brooklyn jangly pop four-piece Ski Lodge all month, and their tour comes to a close tonight at Mercury Lounge.


The Ruby Suns Play the Late Show at Mercury Lounge Tomorrow Night

February 28th, 2013

About a decade ago multi-instrumentalist Ryan McPhun left California for Auckland, N.Z. He joined several groups before deciding to front his own, Ryan McPhun & the Ruby Suns. McPhun did a considerable amount of traveling—spending time in Africa and Asia before settling in New Zealand—so it’s no surprise that his band, now simply called the Ruby Suns, makes upbeat pop music with world-music (and psychedelic) influences. The Ruby Suns worked with Beach House and Grizzly Bear producer Chris Coady on their fourth LP, last month’s Christopher (stream it below). The album is filled with heavy hooks and big electro-pop sounds, and you can hear plenty of it when they play the late show tomorrow night at Mercury Lounge.


The Weather It Is a-Changin’

February 8th, 2013

American Royalty/Vensaire – Mercury Lounge – February 7, 2013

American Royalty

As the Northeast awaited another impending storm, the theme of the fantastic late double bill at Mercury Lounge last night was “if you don’t like the weather, wait five minutes,” as both bands hit a dizzying array of sounds, themes and influences, filling every minute with crowd-pleasing music.

First up, Vensaire took the stage while green laser spots floated around the entire room like CGI fairies bringing a little magic to the Lower East Side. To understand Vensaire, all you need to know is they’re the kind of band that that is very easy to dance to and also the kind of band that has a violin player. Their opening song was nine minutes long and stretched through multiple sections, somewhat freaky-folk Grizzly Bear-ish, before an extended, pounding, triumphant ooh-la-la coda that could have been its own song. From there, the band pulled in some Japanese influences, the violin sounding downright eerie. Throughout the set four different musicians took lead vocals and everyone put their own punctuation on the sound—art-rock vocals, groovy bass and keys, and a prog-y lead guitar, covering a lot of territory, all very smart, all very open and loose, and all very danceable.

Picking up where Vensaire left off, American Royalty began in a now nearly packed room with an ambitious string of songs that featured multiple overlapping sections. And each seemed to bounce among styles: It almost felt like an expert DJ working the turntables, mixing and layering sounds to create a new music. Except these guys were doing it live, and every transition was perfect, the trio hitting three main styles: Zeppelin-esque rock and roll, soul and dance club in some combination in their set. About midway through, American Royalty covered Curtis Mayfield’s “Pusherman,” which was perfectly nearly unrecognizable, a real-time remix that captured the essence of the original but re-envisioned it as an American Royalty classic. From there the set was one workout to the next—including the standout material from their released-this-week Prismatic EP—fist-pumping sections comingling with hip twisters, each song building a narrative and usually ending in a high-energy climax. So, yeah, if you didn’t like the “conditions” in the room last night, they’d change soon enough, except it was more like every 30 seconds and, as it turned out, everyone seemed to love it all. —A. Stein



4 Artists 1 Cause – Terminal 5 – December 14, 2012

December 17th, 2012

Sleigh Bells

Photos courtesy of Joe Papeo | www.irocktheshot.com

(All proceeds from this show go to the Mayor’s Fund to Advance New York City in support of hurricane-relief efforts.)


Grizzly Bear’s Growing Sound

September 25th, 2012

Grizzly Bear – Radio City Music Hall – September 24, 2012

“This is surreal,” commented Ed Droste of Brooklyn’s Grizzly Bear last night as he took in the view from the stage of Radio City Music Hall, a massive crowd filling the seats of the historic theater. “This is absolutely crazy. It makes me think back to our first show at [Brooklyn bar] Zebulon in 2004,” he remarked, seeming both awestruck and humbled. Indeed, last night’s performance was the local band’s biggest hometown show in their career, plus it was an opportunity to perform material from their new album, Shields, and the magnitude of the occasion was not lost on Grizzly Bear. Droste even announced that his 91-year-old grandmother had flown in for the show, her first time seeing the band.

Opening with Shields“Speak in Rounds” and “Sleeping Ute,” Grizzly Bear’s signature vocal harmonies and mastery of precise, dynamic instrumentation were on full display, complemented by the gentle rise and fall of a backdrop of glowing lights, reminiscent of abstract jack-o’-lanterns. Although Shields’ musical aesthetic fit in naturally with Grizzly Bear’s catalog—plenty of shimmering guitar lines and intricately crafted melodies—songs like “Yet Again” and “A Simple Answer” pack a stronger punch than we’ve previously heard from them. It seems Grizzly Bear’s sound has grown in time with the increasing scale of their concert venues. Fans may never have expected dizzying strobe lights to perfectly punctuate a Grizzly Bear song, but it happened, and it worked

In contrast, mellower favorites like “Cheerleader,” “Ready, Able” and “Foreground,” from 2009’s Veckatimest, held their own on the large stage as well. The band maintained this tranquil thread for the show’s encore, beginning with the understated “Knife” (noting that it was the first song they ever wrote together), and ending with a simple acoustic version of “All We Ask,” which highlighted the subtle interplay of their voices. Although Grizzly Bear proved they have mastered the art of the large-scale show, as they played this final song, the stage nearly dark, they were able to replicate a sense of intimacy akin to their modest roots, back in those Brooklyn-bar days. —Alena Kastin

Photos courtesy of Charles Steinberg | charlesolivierphoto.com


Grizzly Bear – Music Hall of Williamsburg – May 31, 2009

June 1st, 2009

Grizzly Bear

It’s been a pretty big week for Grizzly Bear. In addition to releasing Veckatimest, their first full-length album since 2006, the band also performed two shows at Town Hall. While those two previous concerts may have been just across the river, Sunday night at Music Hall of Williamsburg felt like the band’s real hometown show—an intimate, celebratory night for fans and friends to cheer the group on as they prepare to leave our fair borough and head out on a summer tour around the world.

The band’s performance was lit theatrically by colorful lights that evoked the new album’s kaleidoscopic cover art—a mesmerizing and effective complement to Grizzly Bear’s haunting psychedelic-operatic music. Their new material flowed seamlessly along with older songs, and the springy keyboards that open Veckatimest’s “Two Weeks” were greeted by the rapt audience with just as much fanfare as older favorites like “Knife” and “Colorado.” From song to song, as each member intuitively floated among a range of instruments and winding harmonies, the different elements worked together with an almost perplexing precision: Grizzly Bear demonstrated over and over that they are nothing if not razor sharp.

When singer Ed Droste began the percussive double-clap, double-snap breakdown in “Fix It,” the audience seemed all too eager to join in. While our timing may not have been as precise as the men of Grizzly Bear, I’m sure the enthusiasm did our hometown heroes proud, as they finished off their big week with another triumphant performance. —Alena Kastin