Grizzly Bear has long been a band entrenched in maximalist instrumentation and untethered complexity, that shouldn’t make sense but somehow does. Their songs just as easily evolve into beautifully orchestral movements as a jarring breakdown threatening to fly off the hinges. It is within this binary opposition that Grizzly Bear thrives, as they manage to weave together their tracks live — where rationality is thrown out the window, and the fluidity of unpredictability takes over. Stopping by the Ogden Theatre Monday night, Grizzly Bear poised their music like a challenge, daring the audience to distill their music on a personal level, making for a truly beautiful experience.
Crinkled opaque drapes hung from the ceilings made the Ogden Theatre feel almost cavernous. With rays of blue and purple light providing a calming depth to the stage, Grizzly Bear’s set up was nothing short of stunning. Intercepting the light as they made their way on stage, the band dived into the particularly dense “Aquarian,” leaving the audience to wade through the intricate waves of sound. Following with the far more accessible “Losing All Senses,” the cavernous refuge the band constructed began to feel instrumental in the bands affect. Ed Droste’s and Daniel Rossen’s baroque vocals intermingled effortlessly as they ascended through the fabricated heights and plunged for the commanding chorus. Not being music one can particular dance to, the theater was awash of people marinating in the beautiful melodies the band put forth. Pulling us out of the depths of our collective reverie, the band would make light-hearted jokes and conversation between songs. But, it didn’t take long for us to be gripped again.
Songs like “Three Rings” and “Ready and Able” became whirlwinds of sounds fluttering around Droste’s voice. “Sleeping Ute” and “While You Wait For The Others” on the other hand, felt meteoric in their respective ebbs and flows, the latter of which, seemed to flow into every nook and cranny of the packed theater. Standing in the audience, was the equivalent to being cast into a typhoon of emotions — rising and falling with the music, at times violently, as we greeted the melancholic tunes head on. Yet, there was a beauty of not knowing what was headed our way. The unknowing didn’t deal so much with the songs themselves, rather the way the songs hit. Throughout their performance, Grizzly Bear held a firm grip on never letting on to when the impact was drawing near, just that fact that it was.
For each song that careened toward us, there was a tangible beauty that would precede the emotional turmoil it would inflict upon us. The beauty, however, was never knowing which one would affect you the most. For each person in the audience it differed, but when a song made its impact, the recoil was translated into mouthed vocals and a magnanimous appreciation of the moment. Picking apart a Grizzly Bear song is a tedious process and a fruitless one at that. The magic in their live show isn’t about finding the hook, rather, it allows the hook to find you, and take you where it may.