With Majical Cloudz
Fillmore Miami Beach
Tuesday, June 18, 2013
Better Than: A real bear attack on the beach.
Nope ... The Grizzly Bear isn't native to South Florida.
Maybe that's why, as the Brooklyn band admits: "It's been seven years since we played Florida. And this is our very first time in Miami."
Last night, though, this ursine indie band from New York City's coolest borough finally made its local debut at the Fillmore Miami Beach for an intimately large crowd of enthusiastic admirers.
"Miami!" the Grizzly Bear crew cooed. "Thanks so much for the warm welcome!"
Of course, though, the show started with an opening band: Two-man Montreal mood machine Majical Cloudz and a 45-minute set of self-described "slow, sad songs."
One mop-headed member stood bent over an electronics setup, tweaking knobs, looping keyboard samples, and swaying meditatively while the bald, singing member strangled a mic at center stage, twitching spastically and moaning soulfully through artsy, post-alternative, Radiohead-style rock hymns that echoed through the cathedral-like Fillmore.
"This is a lot more space than we know what to do with," the hairless Majical Cloudz dude deadpanned. "We're tiny room people. We live in tiny rooms, we play tiny rooms. So big rooms kinda freak us out."
Less than a quarter-hour later, the Grizzly Bear guys filed out onto a Dade County stage for the first time ... Ever.
They were all smiling, from floppy-haired singer Ed Droste to guitar guy Dan Rossen, bassist Chris Taylor, and drummer Christopher Bear.
Yes, the whole crew seemed truly blissed out over visiting the subtropics. "We don't know," the Grizzlies bashfully acknowledged, "what took us so long."
Frollicking through sweetly strange songs, like "Speak in Rounds" and "Sleeping Ute" (both off the band's latest album, 2012's Shields), Droste, Rossen, Taylor, and Bear gave off a certain kind of dreamy natural warmth that heated and brightened the dusky near-darkness of the Fillmore.
Honestly ... For a band that's sometimes charged with being a bunch of chilly indie intellectuals, the Grizzlies were very friendly. And this unaffected coziness permeated the entire evening.
There was even an unrehearsed quality to the crew's charming of its charming audience, despite following a nearly identical script and setlist as every single one of the group's other tour stops.
There was "Lullabye," a twinkly pastoral noise sesh that exploded into a soaring jam of harps and horns and piano and guitar and drums. And "Yet Again," a cool-kid campfire sing-along that nosedives, spiraling toward a squelching post-rock conclusion.
For "Gun-Shy," eighteen oddly tendriled lamps, just dangling from the rafters, lit up in seemingly random bioluminescent patterns, like jellyfish floating through the night sky.
It was all quite beautiful. And that's a word Crossfade doesn't really like to use.
In fact, last night was so beautiful that the Grizzly Bear guys were even smitten enough to do an encore, which based on other tour reports and setlists doesn't appear to be the Grizzlies' regular thing.
"Wow, you have been the nicest crowd," they marveled throughout the night. "Thank you, Miami. We really hope we don't wait as long as we did to come back."
And they didn't. Because after a short disappearance into the backstage shadows, they came back.
"Alright," the Grizzlies said, smiling and almost blushing. "We'll do one more. But it'll be acoustic."
The Crowd: Every kind of indie rock admirer, from jam-band-lovin' hippies in love to hipster dads hugging their seven-year-old, noise-reducing-headphone-donning daughters.
Grizzly Bear's Setlist:
-"Speak in Rounds"
-"A Simple Answer"
-"While You Wait for the Others"
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-"Sun in Your Eyes"
-"All We Ask"