One Grizzly Saturday night

By Corey Charron, Collegian Staff

In the underground rock world, fans and critics are extremely picky.

Creating a piece of art that’s exceptional and fascinating, as well as catchy, causes many emerging musicians to give up. So, when someone comes through with an original and compassionate record, people take notice.

Unfortunately, there are some consequences of success. The immense pressure of following a resoundingly impressive album with an equally enriching live show can be intimidating for some bands.

Grizzly Bear’s “Yellow House,” released last fall on Warp Records, received as many accolades as humanly possible for a band on an independent label.

Of course a highly anticipated tour would follow such a critically praised endeavor, a stressful thought for most bands. Adding to the already daunting task for Grizzly Bear is the fact that their record is extremely dense and complex, with intricate layered vocals and instrumentals.

Any person in the crowd Saturday night at the Iron Horse Music Hall in Northampton could tell you that the four members of Grizzly Bear were up for the challenge.

A mostly quiet and intimate band, such as Grizzly Bear, takes full advantage of a venue like the Iron Horse, the perfect venue to showcase their talent to the nearly sold-out crowd.

Each part of the band played multiple instruments perfectly. Chris Taylor took care of the flute and clarinet, sometimes changing the two mid-song. During most of the show, Taylor was found on the ground focusing his woodwinds at microphones on the stage. Bass guitar was also his responsibility. Percussionist Chris Bear played drums, bells and several multi-functional pedals, allowing for distortions, layering of vocals and looping. Lead singer Edward Droste, the founding member of Grizzly Bear and a former Hampshire College student, played keyboard, harpsichord and guitar. Daniel Rossen also played guitar and provided vocals.

Grizzly Bear started off their twelve-song, one-hour set with “Easier,” the first track from the album “Yellow House.” A harpsichord was brought out for crowd-pleaser “Lullabye,” the second track from their last record. “Little Brother” featured every man in the collective singing together and “Final Round” found Grizzly Bear at their most energetic. The cover of The Crystals’ single, “He Hit Me,” and final song “On a Neck, On a Spit,” were amongst the best of the evening. Mixing in songs from their first record “Horn of Plenty,” including “Fix It” and “Shift,” provided for a full overview of Grizzly Bear. A lack of encore didn’t faze the crowd, as the band had certainly provided enough musical brilliance for one night.

The most impressive part of the show was how incredibly cohesive the band was. It’s rare for a band to have all four members singing together and not sounding terrible. Most songs found at least two people harmonizing or whistling, making the band sound nearly the same as their records. In fact, at some points in the night the band sounded better than the recordings, a trait that correlates with a band looking towards a bright future.

After standing in line in the frigid cold for what seemed like days, members of the audience expected an act to literally warm them up. Openers The Dirty Projectors, this time around a four-piece, tried instead to wake the crowd up with their first song, as all three vocalists screamed loudly into their microphones. The rest of the half-hour act was filled with more mellow and sometimes meandering songs.

Lefty guitarist Dave Longstreth, donning a red and blue flannel shirt, provided lead vocals, portrayed best as a distinctive type of crooning. Amber Coffman, guitarist, and Angel Deradoorian, bassist and flute player, sung back-up.

Luckily the women’s vocalizations were beautifully rich, balancing the unique sound of Longstreth’s voice. Drumming duties were given to talented Brian Mcomber, rounding out the rest of the band.

Overall, the audience was politely responsive to The Dirty Projectors. At some points in the night, the crowd lost interest. The last song of the night found The Dirty Projectors at their most interesting, as they decided to rock out on a high note. It warranted the most applause of their set, and rightfully so.