Waiting in line hours before doors open has never been my thing but apparently for Grizzly Bear, it was plenty of people’s “thing.” It was crazy to see that the line wrapped around the building as I walked by Stubb’s at 5 p.m., three hours before the show began. Arriving five minutes before the opener started didn’t make it difficult to make my way to the front.
One-man-band Owen Pallett opened up the show and set the mood with his mystical-sounding voice. While Pallett’s known mainly as a solo artist, he performs live with a a bassist and a drummer. The highlight of his set was being able to experience Pallett play his violin into a loop pedal. The looping pedal helps the artist’s instrument create layers of melody and texture which made a sort of synthy background to Pallett’s music. Just under 40 minutes, Pallett’s set mellowed out the crowd and prepped everyone for the main attraction.
As the lights lowered and the stage lights came on, everyone’s eyes were instantly drawn to the gauzy, phantom-like jellyfish that floated in the background. They fit perfectly with lead vocalists Ed Droste’s and Daniel Rossen’s signature harmonies. Grizzly Bear’s 19-song set was made up with almost all of the tracks off of their most recent release Shields, the album that can easily be labeled as their claim to fame. Shields is different from their 2009 album Veckatimest in the sense that it is much more emotionally consuming. Each track oozes a sort of loneliness that almost everyone has experienced at one point in their life. From the heavy sighs and constant “fuck yeah” from the group of boys next to me, it was obvious that Grizzly Bear was more than just a band to them.
While the band played most of Shields, tracks from Horn of Plenty, Veckatimest and Yellow House were sprinkled throughout the set and were perfect examples of how their sound has evolved since forming over a decade ago. Drummer Chris Bear’s usual swift, detailed drumming stood out the most when the band played “Yet Again,” where his drumming turned almost ferocious, rumbling in the background of the melodies. Personally, the highlight of the set was during the last song before the encore. “Sun In Your Eyes” is a magnificently dreamy track that had me the second that bassist Chris Taylor switched his bass for the saxophone.
The band exited the stage but after five or so minutes of screams from the crowds, they came out to end the night with a three-song encore. Droste said as they finished the second song, “This is my last chance to talk. You’ve all really exceeded my expectations.” An acoustic version of “All We Ask” closed the show and left the crowd staring at the stage with a small smile of satisfaction on their faces.