Grizzly Bear rocked the Wellmont Theater as devoted fans packed the venue, dancing and singing along to every song that erupted from the stage.
Grizzly Bear initially came onto the scene when the band’s founder, Ed Droste, dropped a mostly-solo album. The record also featured Christopher Bear, who would eventually become the band’s drummer. The duo soon became a trio with the addition of bassist and producer, Chris Taylor, and was finally rounded out once Daniel Rossen, a friend of Christopher Bear’s from jazz camp, joined the group.
After a little less than a decade of touring together, the members went their separate ways, each working on their own music. But eventually, Grizzly Bear reunited in 2015, collaborating on and sharing their individual projects, leading to the release of Painted Ruins. The new release is packed with psychedelic elements while remaining introspective and somewhat political at times. I had the pleasure of attending the concert at the Wellmont Theater, and Grizzly Bear sure brought energy into their performance.
The concert began with opening act Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith, who brought a unique and modern approach to musical stylings. She would begin by playing multiple sounds, some natural sounding such as birds chirping, and some more rooted in techno. She then layered those tracks with her beautiful voice, making for a very soothing and impressive musical experience.
Soon after Kaitlyn finished her opening act, the stage was cleared and reassembled for Grizzly Bear. As the band walked on and took their places, Ed Droste announced that the band had not performed in New Jersey in about ten years, and the crowd burst into cheers.
The group went straight into their set, starting strong from the get-go. They opened with Aquarian, off of Painted Ruins. But throughout the night, they kept a nice mix of older tunes with brand new releases. The band members displayed amazing instrumental versatility, with Chris Taylor, traditionally the bass players, occasionally showing off his other instrumental abilities, bringing out a saxophone and flute on separate occasions. All four bandmates accompany on vocals, with Ed Droste and Daniel Rossen taking the leads.
The crowd was more than pleased as Grizzly Bear graced the stage with some of their classics, such as Two Weeks, Shift and Sleeping UTE, while also staying true to the tour’s title and playing various tunes off of the new album.
As the uproarious applause began to die down, the band left the stage, seemingly for the night. This prompted a few audience members to yell out various words of encouragement and fanaticism, mostly along the lines of “six more songs,” hoping that Grizzly Bear would return.
While six more numbers were not in the cards, the audience was not disappointed with the few more wonderful and energetic performances that the band finished off the night with.
If sweat is any indication, it’s clear that Grizzly Bear gave their ultimate best to the Wellmont audience on Friday night. Their musicianship is incredibly impressive, and their fanbase is strong and consistently growing–for good reason. Grizzly Bear sure knew how to bring New Jersey exactly what they wanted.
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