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Review: Grizzly Bear at Palladium Ballroom

Posted 11:35am on Sunday, Apr. 07, 2013

It was hard to stop looking at the lights.

Floating like phantoms behind Grizzly Bear, its five members arrayed on stage at the Palladium Ballroom Saturday night, the lights, which resembled de-tentacled jellyfish or maybe mutant lightning bugs trapped in Mason jars, were not revealed until the evening's second song, the luminous instrumental Adelma.

The effect was potent, and also served to sum up the evening: Grizzly Bear traffics in the sort of pleasing, occasionally excitable folk-pop that functions best if it is not the main focus. That's not intended as a dismissal, as mastering the kind of quiet power Daniel Rossen, Ed Droste, Chris Taylor and Christopher Bear (along with touring member Aaron Arntz) conjure in concert takes some doing.

Its last time through town, Grizzly Bear played to a packed Granada Theater in the dead of July, when the venue's air conditioning was on the fritz. At the time, it was an apt metaphor for the state of the Brooklyn-based band's career, which was in the full glow of the success of the 2009 album Veckatimest and its inescapable single Two Weeks. This time around, things were considerably more temperate, on stage and off (while the Palladium was full of appreciative fans, the show was not a complete sell-out).

Touring behind last year's Shields, a more contemplative piece of work, the absence of heightened expectations worked in Grizzly Bear's favor, as they were able to relax and render songs that come off as a little stiff and remote on record as wonderfully loose, slightly messy splashes of sound. The quintet's studied haziness makes it tough to grab hold of anything singular, instead making a flurry of fleeting moments slide together into a beautiful sonic blur.

But even without a standout memory to cherish, the night was a gorgeous one: those disembodied stage lights sliding and floating around behind Grizzly Bear, an inadvertent physical manifestation of what was emanating from below.

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