Wednesday, September 26th, 2012 I sat at Toronto’s Massey Hall in anticipation of what I knew would be an amazing show. With Massey Hall undoubtedly being my favourite venue for its wonderful acoustics, I expected the pairing to be magical. Although I had extremely high anticipations, those were nonetheless surpassed once Grizzly Bear came on stage and Ed Droste, Daniel Rossen, Chris Taylor and Christopher Bear began performing.
After American-New Zealand band Unknown Mortal Orchestra opened , Grizzly Bear made their way on at 9:15 sharp beginning with a catchy tune from the new album Shields: Speak in Rounds. A great opening song, it built in intensity just as the show did. With subtle yet effective additions, the stage was laced with hovering lanterns and swirling lights. Varying based on the heaviness of the song, the lanterns would change colours or move to set the ambiance. Focusing primarily on the new album, the Shields logo also spun its way across the venue, adding to the audiences captivation and making for a spectacular light show.
More impressive than the atmosphere was the skill, both musically and vocally. With Ed, Daniel, and Chris perfecting every harmony, it’s hard to use any word other than stunning to describe their performance. Constantly changing instruments, Chris played a good chunk of the show half kneeling while he rotated between the flute, the base clarinet, saxophone, and base guitar. Daniel moved across the stage, alternating piano with guitar and strong vocals. And Ed, although having spent most of the time centre stage, delivered echoing vocals across the hall while also rotating through instruments.
Having played most of the songs off the new album, Grizzly Bear did manage to fit in some classics that got the crowed (extra) excited. Playing favourites such as Ready Able, Cheerleader and While We Wait for the Others, they also snuck in my personal favourite Shift. With a silenced audience, they performed this track with few bells and whistles; just perfect, clean, echoing and eerily beautiful harmonies. As if that wasn’t enough, they also brought Owen Pallett and Feist on stage to add to the magic. With such a wonderful response, the crowd awaited their encore to have Knife and All We Ask finish off a fantastically memorable show.
If you haven’t yet heard their new album, then I highly recommend giving it a listen, it’s certainly worth the buy.
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