Grizzly Bear / Dirty Projectors
Subterranean; Chicago, IL

[02-09-2007]

The Dirty Projectors opened up for Grizzly Bear with a unique set showcasing mastermind Dave Longstreth's impressive vocals, which he often pushed to the limits of his upper range. Having only heard one song before, I wasn't prepared for their odd mix of unstructured rock, funk and lounge; I had been expecting more of an offbeat indie sound, but I was pleasantly surprised to hear something more original than that. Joined by two female singers, the blend of their voices together made for a nice touch. It’s not a sound I can see myself seeking out on a regular basis, so I probably won’t be going out and picking up the Dirty Projectors' back catalog, but I will say it was a really interesting performance I'm glad to have witnessed.

After The Dirty Projectors wrapped up Grizzly Bear came on stage and proceeded to play the tightest, most flawless set I could have possibly imagined. Their music, which my inferior home speakers unjustly flatten, came totally alive in Subterranean, the dense layers of sound wafting all over the room. The male harmonies that often involve all four band members were on perfect pitch and sounded amazing. These harmonies were best displayed during my favorite song (and everyone else' favorite, too, judging by the number of covers currently flooding the web), "Knife," where sounds I would have thought were coming from an instrument or even a computer were proven to actually be coming from bassist Chris Taylor's mouth. Meanwhile, the fantastically repetitive choruses of "Lullabye" and "Colorado" ("Chin Up/Cheer Up" and "What Now/What Now... ) echoed beautifully around the room and left me in a trance.

Although most of the set list came from 2006 critical darling Yellow House, it was exciting to hear a few tracks from debut album Horn of Plenty performed live; songs like “Fix It” sounded so much fuller taken out of the fuzzy, though endearing, lo-fi aesthetic of Horn’s bedroom recording. Grizzly Bear even managed to squeeze in a Bearified cover of the Crystals’ “He Hit Me (and It Felt Like a Kiss),” the second Crystals cover I’d heard in the past week (the other being Asobi Seksu’s wonderful, distorted version of "And Then He Kissed Me"). Done in their signature style, singer Ed Droste left me pontificating on the hidden meaning of the song and wondering what it was about the Crystals that make them the current 'band to cover' du jour.

The band wrapped the show up sans encore but on a great note with their most upbeat song, "On a Neck, On a Spit," sending me skipping out the door with the tune in my head. It reminded me that what I love about this band is that they somehow hide these incredible pop melodies under all these thick layers of fuzz, and the result is positively gorgeous.