[This was just posted on Popwreckoning, so feel free to go there too. ]
I arrived at the Moore Theatre last night just in time to get my Will Call tickets right when the doors opened. Thankfully – since it was one of the rainiest days of the year in Seattle, which is saying a lot. I stood out in the lobby for a bit before they opened the doors for us to find our seats.
I – along with a few other people – trickled into the old theater through the corridors myself in the box seats, the others spread around within the theater. A few guys came and sat in the box a few rows behind me, discussing whether or not to get drunk.
“We can’t drink beer down here? Let’s go mingle. Let’s go drink beer,” the first guy proposed.
“Okay, dude. Let’s go drink beer,” the second guy responded.
By that point, the historic Moore Theatre was pretty empty. Actually, most of the people didn’t arrive until halfway through the openers, the Morning Benders from San Francisco.
Personally, they were a big part of the reason why I went to the gig. I saw them in July of 2008 as openers for my favorite band We Are Scientists, and from then on I wished to see them again.
Unfortunately, when they came back to Seattle this October, someone decided to break into their van some time before the show and steal some of their equipment, among other random things. But had I not known that, I wouldn’t have thought otherwise, because they were totally at ease on stage. Kicking it off with a low-key version of “Damnit Anna,” one of the peppier songs from their debut Talking Through Tin Cans, they were just the right compliment for Grizzly Bear – the headliners. But the rest of the songs were new ones from their upcoming release, Big Echo, which doesn’t yet have an official release date. I caught a few of the titles of the new songs, and my favorites were “Hand Me Downs,” an upbeat song more reminiscent of Talking Through Tin Cans, and “Stitches,” a slow, heavy ballad. “Stitches” actually kind of mesmerized me. And sitting by myself in the box at that point, I could just bask in the sound and listen. It was nice.
The Morning Benders’ sound was more mature than the last record, which makes me excited to hear all of Big Echo. But even though their new stuff sounded more mature, the Morning Benders still had the same charm they had last time I saw them. All of their guitars may not have been labeled “Britney Spears,” but drummer Julian Harmon had the familiar sticker on his snare. Not sure what it means. I’ll have to figure that out one day, but it’s interesting nonetheless.
The Morning Benders were very gracious openers, as front man Chris Chu repeatedly thanked Grizzly Bear for bringing them on this leg of the tour, which gave everyone a nice impression of the band. But I don’t think they got the love they deserved because like I said earlier, most of the people got to the venue late, just in time to see Grizzly Bear. At the end, Chu thanked the crowd “for coming early to see us.” That’s not early, that’s on time. Everyone else got there late.
But they did come to see an amazing show. Grizzly Bear was amazing.
Normally I don’t like sitting in the theater at gigs, but in this case, the Moore was the perfect venue for it – large, but not too large so it’s still intimate. And the haunting vocals from Daniel Rossen, Ed Droste, Chris Taylor and Chris Bear worked perfectly with everyone seated. It’s not the kind of music you dance to, more like the kind you just listen to.
And that’s all I had to do – listen.
And Grizzly Bear surely brought in the crowd. The guy sitting next to me had heard of them just that day, and lived in Pullman. He drove 4 hours to see them. Wow.
I’ve never seen a more dynamic group of musicians. First hearing them on Veckatimest a couple months ago, I would have never guessed they could pull off all the layers of sound they achieved on the record the same way live. But they did. Droste would switch from keyboard to guitar to mandolin, and Rossen switched from keyboards to guitar. But Taylor was the one that stood out to me in his multiple instrumentalist skills. From bass to flute to clarinet and bass clarinet, and another odd instrument that I couldn’t name if I ever tried. It just added an eerie ringing sound to several of the songs.
Speaking of the songs, Grizzly Bear played a nice mixture of songs from Veckatimest and 2006’s Yellow House, which lent itself to the range of sounds they created on stage. Starting off the show with “Southern Point,” it was just the right amount of energy to get people excited. Not only did they sound great, but also there were Mason jar lights set up all along the stage hung from stands, creating a wave of lights to go along with the psychedelic indie rock.
Some of my favorite tunes of the night were “Fine for Now,” “Little Brother,” and “Lullabye.” But what got the crowd going most was “Two Weeks,” Grizzly Bear’s biggest hit yet. Besides, it’s the easiest to sing along to. But the biggest song of the night, and the one that really gave me goosebumps with all the slow buildup, Taylor’s constant switching of instruments, and soaring harmonies from Droste and Rossen was “I Live With You.” I could see people all around the theater bobbing their heads to the music that filled the extremely tall Moore.
Droste actually said towards the end of the night, “Are you guys getting vertigo up there? I was up there earlier, and it’s weird.” The second balcony is quite tall, and most of the time requires binoculars, but it sounds just as good because of the acoustics of the theater. From where I was sitting in the box on the main floor, the heaviness of the bass actually made my glasses shudder and eyes blur for a second.
After the “last song,” everyone got on their feet to applaud for the encore, except a select few that actually thought it was the end of the show. But a couple minutes of applause later, the foursome walked back out on stage for one last song, “He Hit Me,” from the Friend EP. It was a perfect way to end the show, finishing at a little before 11 p.m.
Now all I had to do was wait for my ride to get there. But while I waited, I stood outside the venue for an hour and mingled with the other fans waiting to meet the band. I still have yet to do that, as I have an odd fear of meeting bands. Not sure why, but I really need to get over that.
Maybe next time.
[Addendum: I really need to get over my fear of meeting bands I like. I was literally waiting in the lobby, Robin Pecknold from Fleet Foxes was there. Like, seriously. And afterwards, I could have easily gone up to Chris or Julian or Tim of the Morning Benders and said hi, but I’m lame. And as I was waiting outside for mom with the rest of the Grizzly Bear fans, I was hoping both bands were coming outside to meet people, but I’m an idiot and didn’t realize that the Morning Benders had probably already packed up all their gear and brought it to their hotel to avoid getting ripped off again from an asshole Seattleite. But when Grizzly Bear did finally come outside like 45 minutes after the show, I froze. Like, my mouth dried up and I couldn’t say anything. Ugh.]