I’ve started writing something about Grizzly Bear in this window six or so times now. I’m vacillating. “Grizzly Bear played at truly great show last night.” “I’ve seen Grizzly Bear play many, many times.” “I couldn’t count how many times I’ve seen Grizzly Bear if I were asked.” I’m wondering what the value is of lauding these people publicly. Music writing. Such a load. This isn’t a story about Grizzly Bear. It’s a story about me.
Pre-show at Absinthe. Above, the “21 Hayes.”
the “Nouveau Carré”
Bear gets ready to take flight in response to something Simon said
Dan in the mist
At this point I left to eat some Vietnamese food in the Mission with some very nice, very well-educated people. In spite of my desire to honor Edward Droste’s love of Pho, I at the clay pot fish. I can’t help it. I just love it.
I’m pretty sure this picture was taken during Lullaby, one of my all-time favorite Grizzly Bear songs. When I watched the show (from the middle-middle where the sound is the best), and actually when I watch almost any Grizzly Bear show, I can’t help but get emotional. While I’d love to be able to avoid sarcasm, I can’t help but add that this sentiment of mine surely isn’t unique judging by the crowd last night. But I (again, like many others) feel like that emotion is mine only, and completely unique. What is it about pop music that does this to us? I’m sure if Timothy White (one of the greatest music writers of my time, I must say, since it doesn’t seem to say it anywhere else) were here, he could write much more eloquently on the subject.
But, in full disclosure (finally, though it must be somewhat obvious), I know these guys. I “grew up” with them. I watched them play Zebulon (seated, all jazz-like) in what? ’03? ’04? Over the years, Grizzly Bear has become less a band and more a soundtrack for me (and us all? and all music pop music is soundtrack?). Each song denotes a different age, separation, or season. The identification is intense, as are the memories. Walking through Greenpoint in the snow, pining for lost carefree days in New York City, and finally realizing it’s not mine anymore. I’m all grown up, for now. But in a good way.
And so is Grizzly Bear. These four, once a loose collection of three master instrumentalists and one vocal boss aren’t playing around any more, but they aren’t taking themselves too seriously either. They are all constantly moving and stretching different ways; more rock, more psych, less self-obsessed, more self-disciplined, less noise, more sound, less harmony, more vocals. And, slightly more rarely than when I was a New Yorker, I get to ride alongside of it all. Being there; remembering when I was in Argentina, that I met someone who fixed it, that it’s my existential crisis–imagining myself on a ranch in the Rockies asking myself what now? And that it’s my folk revival, that I see the unexpectedly lonely image of two dories.
Maybe that’s it. That’s the beauty. And if Grizzly Bear does all that, for me, and apparently so many others, who can find fault?
all grown up now