Grizzly Bear/Beach House @ Hollywood Palladium 10/20/09

Written By: Andy Sweat (Angry Staffer)
Photos By: Jeremy Ross

View all of Jeremy’s Grizzly Bear/Beach House photos here.

For the majority of Angelenos, Tuesday October 20th was all about Angels and Yankees or O’Donnell and LL (but certainly not 90210 or Melrose Place). But for all those west side trendsters and east side hipsters, KCRW’s hosted show at the Palladium was the place (you had) to be.

Nothing makes an indie kid (who secretly follows Pitchfork Media) cum harder than the sound of Grizzly Bear and Beach House getting down and dirty together for some symphonic love. Both bands have a similar dreamy, hypnotic style of music yet both differ in the way they deliver that sound. And Tuesday night was a marriage made in heaven.

Beach House hails from Baltimore, and last year they put out their well-received second album, “Devotion,” which they played a fair amount of songs from on Tuesday. Beach House delivers their dreamy sound with charming, simplistic, neo-psychedelic guitar and keyboard work while making sure the vocals stay as hush as possible (though there were frequent siren cries throughout each tune). Victoria Legrand’s frazzled, drained, elongated vocals and Alex Scally’s deftly acute melodic guitar made for a pleasant experience that had the viewer drifting slowly into a deep state of unconsciousness.

My only quarrel with this band is that after about 3 songs – you’ve heard them all. The variation is slight from song to song but the tone is copied in each tune. But that’s not to say that I’m not a fan of their music as a whole. I can appreciate a minimalist style approach that is both hypnotic and breezy. And, on this night, Beach House was a nice little snack before the main course; a main Lobster course that performs on a different level sonically, technically and lyrically than 99% of the bands out there.

By the time Grizzly Bear took the stage, the audience was ready to go a bit further with the drowsy hypnotic sound established by Beach House. Grizzly Bear’s latest release, “Veckatimest,” is the bands third album and it has their sound taking on similar territory and landscape: big, expansive, twisted, chaotic, harmonic… there’s really no use in trying to categorize it.

Personally, I’m more of a “Yellow House” fan due to that perfect warm, eerie cabin-like sound. On that album, the band didn’t try to be overly-complicated, yet their harmony and music was as enchanting as the fireplace they set their music and logs in. I’m still a fan of their latest stuff, but I do have reservations about it for the simple fact that it is a little too ambitious for its own good. An ambition that seems to be boundless which sometimes hurts the end result. Either way – their music is fucking good whether I prefer one album to another. And… their live show Tuesday night didn’t let anyone down.

The Brooklyn-based band has always been fantastic and better musicians than the majority of the clones rolling around indie-stardom-ville. Their articulate and meticulous musical craftsmanship and talent is obvious, but, live, this band also unleashes sonic assaults on the faces of every eager and willing fan. We got a glimpse into a more noise-influenced band that might not be so apparent on their albums.
A standout moment was “Southern Point.” A psychedelic folk-jazz influenced mix that floored its audience with its lively acoustic guitars, heaps of vocal harmonies, jaunty drums, and all sorts of various clinking sounds making it bewildering and alluring.

The lovely “Two Weeks,” in contrast, is a song where the chorus wobbles sophisticatedly between beseeching and encouraging as it’s sustained by the backing vocals of Beach House’s very own Victoria LeGrand. On this night, it was just simply dazzling.

“On a Neck, On a Spit” was a glorious moment from the “Yellow House” album that recalls their folk influence while “While You Wait for the Others” showed off the band’s more tangible and accessible pop friendly side.

Grizzly Bear played in a fierce and focused manner with a passion that just simply couldn’t be ignored.

Overall, and to no one’s surprise, Grizzly Bear is worth the hype (both in their studio output and their live performances) and they are a must see band for music fans of any kind. It’s exciting when a band tries to do the things Grizzly Bear attempts (and succeeds) at doing: music dripping with influence that also transcends and becomes its own separate entity.

It’s music for anyone who enjoys aspirant, inventiveness ripe with emotional suggestion… which should be all of you.

Random Observations:

* Is it just me or does Ed Droste sound like the most beautiful 5-year-old who’s complaining to his mother during the Carole King cover “He Hit Me (and It Felt Like a Kiss)..?

* The lighting was fucking really good. Anybody else notice those awesome tube shaped cylinders on the ceiling?

* Victoria used the word “facetious” and said it’s a “big word” – really, Victoria? You can do better than that. What about: Pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicovolcanoconiosis…?

* Celebrity sightings: Aziz Ansari (Human Giant, Parks & Recreation), and maybe Busy Phillips (Freaks and Geeks, Dawson’s Creek). Were you there, Busy? But more importantly, did you really sing back-up vocals for John Mayer?

* The Palladium’s acoustics were (are) utter crap. The venue is spacious, hip and sorta cool – but the sound quality and general ambience of this place made for a distraction rather than aiding the quality of music. This concert would’ve been better suited at the Greek Theatre: sitting down, relaxing outdoors – enjoying whatever drug of choice. This show didn’t need the fucking dance hall floor space. The music of Beach House and Grizzly Bear belongs in the air – not trapped in walls.

* Sold a ticket to a chick on Craigslist at face value. Disheveled, MapQuest retarded, dangling cig chick showed up 40 minutes late and then had the nerve to ask me for change. I should’ve taken that cig, burnt the ticket and then shoved the ashes up her ass…. Instead, I gave her change and we parted ways. Sigh. (BTW – who the fuck still uses MapQuest?)

View all of Jeremy’s photos here.

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