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Coachella 2010: Grizzly Bear is for lovers

April 16, 2010 | 10:42 pm

A few minutes before Grizzly Bear played its Mojave tent set, a young couple passed the wait by eagerly proving their affection for each other by the tent entrance. Very, very eagerly. In a fashion that belongs only on hyper-premium cable.

Grizzly Bear will do that to you, though. The Brooklyn quartet has four-part harmonies that could make even the sourest schoolmarm feel down for some PDA.

After a commercial breakthrough with "Veckatimest," the band saw its audience ramp up considerably, and it's needed to own bigger and bigger stages like the Palladium.On record, Grizzly Bear comes off a bit precious and mannered. Live, however, it's found a rhythmic swing and swagger that are perfect foils to the Faberge delicacy of its vocal arrangements.

By indie standards, cuts like the doo-wop-inspired "Knife" and Brian Wilson mash note "Two Weeks" are bona-fide hits, and with reason. The latter rides a deep Motown bass groove and Rhodes piano, while they the singers treat its lead hook like a sample; it reappears in odd, perfect places throughout the song.

Drummer Chris Bear is a big reason why the band translates better live: he's an effortlessly perfect player, attuned to the ways drums can ebb and flow, and not just support a backbeat. But while those harmonies get all the due attention, Grizzly Bear are seriously capable noisemakers as well, and melancholy tunes like "While You Wait For The Others" felt even more pained and potent for the band's swells of distortion and reverb.

Not that any attendant couples were feeling the slightest bit wan or anything.

-- August Brown


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