The smell of wet wool was pervasive as drenched Seattleites escaped the rain Friday night to attend the Grizzly Bear show at the Moore Theatre. The weathered venue, coupled with a spectacular light display of Mason jars hanging from telephone pole-like structures provided an intimate listening environment.
The band opened the set with its first track off Veckatimest, “Southern Point”. Bassist Chris Taylor dominated the song, sound reverberating off of the tall walls of the Moore. Grizzly Bear immediately followed up its strong beginning with “Cheerleader”. As the song moved through its various movements, the lights went from gray to warm shades of red. It was as if Dorothy had finally arrived in Technicolor. The next song, “Lullaby”, demonstrated the band’s roots in jazz, as they improvised during the second half of the piece. The audience seemed a bit lost, but the musicians clearly knew where they were going.
“Fine for Now” was one of the most stunning songs of the evening visually. It evoked memories of warm summer evenings as the Mason jars flickered on and off like captured fireflies. The crowd favorite came a few songs later; the audience erupted as Daniel Rossen sat at the keyboard and played the opening notes of “Two Weeks”. Each musician seemed contained in their individual tasks, yet the different parts of the piece came together effortlessly.
Ed Droste owned “Ready, Able”. His voice was warm and rich; it seemed to fill the room from floor to ceiling. Along with that piece, “Foreground” may have been the best showcase of his operatic style. The band seemed to play in pairs – the simplicity of Rossen’s piano melody was echoed by Bear’s careful drumming, and Droste’s vocals were perfectly complemented by Taylor’s horn. It was a breathtaking song, perhaps the strongest of the night. “While You Wait with the Others” was a close second, as it balanced the distinct vocal talents of Droste and Rossen with Taylor’s doo-wop backup. Christopher Bear’s absurd talents on the drums were most prominently displayed a few songs later when the band played “On A Neck, On A Spit”. He has clearly spent some time with a metronome.
The band received a much-deserved standing ovation after finishing the set and returned for one more song, a particularly lounge-y version of “He Hit Me (It Felt Like a Kiss)”. For an hour and a half listeners had together escaped the rain, and as Grizzly Bear finished its encore, fans went their separate ways into a night much improved by the band’s stunning set. Appropriately, the rain had cleared.