You could say it would take a full orchestra to adequately perform some of Grizzly Bear's songs, with their ornate arrangements featuring woodwinds and strings. Well, Saturday night, at Brooklyn's Academy of Music, the experimental rockers brought their sound to fruition, enlisting the Brooklyn Philharmonic for a stirring 75-minute set packed with tunesthey've never performed live, including some off their much-anticipated third album, Veckatimest (due in May).
"The fun part about this is that we get to play songs we've never played before," singer/guitarist Edward Droste told the crowd.
He was referring to cuts like "Easier" and "Central and Remote." But other tunes making their live debuts also fared well: The haunting chamber folk of "Reprise" was performed with guitarist/vocalist Daniel Rossen on banjo, as Philharmonic conductor Michael Christie perfectly recreated the studio version's lock-step tempo. "Campfire," from 2004's Horn of Plenty, was augmented with multi-part harmonies and woodwinds, adding an improved psychedelic bent to the original's bare-bones folk.
The new songs from Veckatimest were no less impressive, especially the vocal-register-ascending "Dory" and the intricate guitar-and-strings arrangement of "Ready, Able."
Grizzly Bear managed without the orchestra's assistance on new tracks "While You Wait for the Others" and "Two Weeks," songs that the band played on Late Night with Conan O'Brien and The Late Show with David Letterman, respectively, further stoking the fire for Veckatimest's release. They would also go Philharmonic-less on a thumping version of Yellow House's "Little Brother," which was a set highlight thanks to Christopher Bear's jazz-like drumming and the band's four-part harmonies.
The set closed out with new tune "Foreground," featuring a stirring vocal performance by Droste and ominous piano chords played by composer/arranger Nico Muhly.
The set's mix of rare oldies and new tunes cemented the performance as a truly special occasion, and a unique one as well: On Sunday, Droste's Twitter feed revealed that it's unlikely the band will ever perform these songs again with a full orchestra.
"Central and Remote"
"While You Wait for the Others"
"Deep Blue Sea"
"He Hit Me (And It Felt Like a Kiss)" (Crystals cover)
Guitarist and vocalist Daniel Rossen / Photo by Eric Nowels
Grizzly Bear vocalist Edward Droste / Photo by Eric Nowels
Grizzly Bearwith the Brooklyn Philharmonic / Photo by Eric Nowels
Edward Droste / Photo by Eric Nowels