Was Grizzly Bear’s Performance At The Hollywood Bowl Their Last In Los Angeles? Some say yes, but Instagram suggests otherwise
LOS ANGELES, CA- It’s taken a while to get a post up about this concert event as I wasn’t quite sure what angle I should approach it at. After all, there had been suggestions- specifically by Grizzly Bear’s Ed Droste- that this performance at the Hollywood Bowl could be the last Grizzly Bear performance in Los Angeles and I also received a cryptic text message from a friend who invited me to an afterparty for the band to celebrate the end of their artistic journey. I hadn’t heard anything from the band directly, but keeping all that in mind, I anxiously made my way out to the Hollywood Hills to catch the Brooklyn-based indie band who has been dropping sophisticated, atmospheric sonics for the better part of 15 years.
Kicking off the evening’s musical offering was the enigmatic recording artist Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith. After a fantastic 2017 with the release of her undeniably brilliant album The Kid, Kaitlyn has been busy sowing the seeds of her own mini empire with an independent label TouchthePlants. The aim of this venture is to explore a wide range of artistic pursuits including “music, dance, film, poetry, photography, instruments, explorations, experiences, clothing, fortunes [and] symposiums” and her performance at the Hollywood Bowl seemed to represent the artistic manifestation of that endeavor.
Armed with an ensemble of synths and decks around her, Kaitlyn took center stage on the grand Hollywood stage. As she commenced to envelope the concert’s early arrivals with her sensational electronic barrage, a trio of dancers took the stage to bring her music to life. Their lithe bodies pulsed and undulated with every dynamic swell, and their presence definitely added a new dimension to Kaitlyn’s already complex music. While I would have loved to see some equally dynamic stage production effects (i.e. lighting), it was easy to get lost in Kaitlyn’s musical soundscape.
Honing their musical craft at the same time in the same city, TV On The Radio and Grizzly Bear are close. KCRW pairing the two acts on the same night couldn’t have been a better choice.
With a setlist that spanned their entire repertoire, it was a performance that gave TV On The Radio die-hards a complete experience. While Tunde may have jokingly noted somewhat uncomfortably that people were dining in front of him as the band ripped through their, he can rest assured that those hiding in the darkness of the upper decks were all emotionally in tune with band’s music and message, nodding their heads with emphasis to every downbeat.
While Tunde and Kyp are generally soft spoken in person, their performance was filled to the brim strong, timeless messaging. The band has been celebrating their 10 year anniversary of Dear Science, but their set consisted of only a handful of cuts (3) from their seminal album. Instead, it seemed like the performed songs intended to make a statement on the current social and political times. If you were eating a meal and chatting away with your friends during TV on the Radio’s performance, you may have missed out on that messaging. Everyone is entitled to their own opinions about the meaning of songs, but I definitely took something away from the selection of songs.
My take? Exposing the apathy and hypocrites of the times (“Young Liars”), realizing the depressed state we’re in (“Lazerray”), the possibility that things can still change (“Golden Age”), reassurance that we’re in for a change (“Province”), the indifference of the times (“Happy Idiot”), and I could go on. It was a performance that was making a powerful statement, and I certainly hope that I wasn’t the only one to feel that way.
In a very honest moment, prior to singing “Shout Me Out”, Tunde said that the song was about the reality of climate change and how it effects the mentality of the populous before softly taking a jab at the opposition by saying, “But that’s not really happening, so this song is a lie.”
Grizzly Bear has been a critical darling of the indie rock scene for the better part of two decades, yet with hardly any fanfare, it appears- if it’s as their latest instagram post suggests- they’ve decided to go on an indefinite hiatus.
Having released seven amazing, full length albums, their last being Painted Ruins (2017), Grizzly Bear has earned plenty of fans over the years. And those fans are probably kicking themselves in the rear if they missed out on attending any of their gigs this year. But there’s hope that at some point down the road, the band will come back together to record and perform more music.
While the band was still essentially touring in support of Painted Ruins, only 3 of the three songs on their setlist came from that album. Rather, they stuffed their performance with as many fan, and personal, favorites (i.e. “Two Weeks”,”Yet Again”, “Ready, Able”, etc.) as they could. With the Hollywood Bowl’s strict curfew times, which frontman Ed Droste acknowledged, the band wasted no time chatting up the crowd or even pausing for a breath.
It was an evening filled with a sonic wash of glorious post-rock, chamber pop. Complex and lush, it was a performance that really highlighted the superb musicianship that each player possesses; musicianship that effortlessly crafts huge soundscapes that easily fills out a vast venue like the Hollywood Bowl.
As their dreamy sonics captured our aural senses, the mystic stage production- lighting that morphed around the large swathes of sheer fabric that hung from the stages rafters- captured our visual ones. It was a performance that affected all of the senses and one that was absolutely fitting for “finale” in Los Angeles … at least for now… hopefully.