Kicking off their U.S. tour within the opulent confines of the Tennessee Theatre, Grizzly Bear played to an enthusiastically approving audience Sunday night.
The Brooklyn-based group performed songs from their new album, "Shields", as well as fan favored selections from their two prior full-length releases, "Yellow House" and "Veckatimest". Crowd response was largely positive.
"This was the show this fall I was most looking forward to seeing," said Annie Skulepa, senior in psychology, while clutching a signed pressing of "Shields" under her arm. "It certainly did not disappoint. I was very surprised that they would be launching a nationwide tour from here in Knoxville, but I think the turnout was really good."
The band opened with three previously unreleased songs from "Shields" before transitioning into a truly transcendent rendition of "Lullaby".
The lighting served to spectacularly complement and enhance the surrealist vibes the psychedelic-folk group is praised for by both critic and hipster alike. Dreamy shades of violets and blues sifting through swirls of smoke matched the ethereal vocals and melodies perfectly, and lights bearing a delightful resemblance to glowing jellyfish served as a suspended backdrop.
"The lighting was definitely notable, it fit the dreamlike mood really well," Liz Roberts, senior in creative writing, said.
Roberts preferred the illusory aesthetic exemplified by the group's older work to some of the newer material.
"Some of the newer stuff felt like they were trying to be too indie rock," Roberts said. "It wasn't bad, but there's already so much stuff like that out there. I liked the older songs they played best, it felt really ambient and surreal."
In addition to the lighting, another noteworthy aspect of the evening was the sheer musically inclusive genius of Chris Taylor, bassist, producer and man of many melodious talents.
Throughout the show, Taylor employed a myriad of instruments including the sax, clarinet and flute. He was not the only member of Grizzly Bear — a band well-known for their instrumental diversity — to show off, however.
Band originator Edward Droste broke out the omnichord during the nearly two hour continuous set, and Christopher Bear, drummer, played a mean glockenspiel.
"That's one of the main reasons I love Grizzly Bear," Spencer Cadden, junior in French, said. "They're so experimental instrumentally. You don't see a lot of bands who incorporate as many instruments as they do, both electronic and otherwise."
Unusual instrumentation and breathtakingly harmonious vocals abounded throughout entrancing performances of "Little Brother", "Shift", and "Ready Able".
All dancing came to a sudden stop and the audience remained reverently still for one particularly entrancing recital of "Foreground".
Energy picked back up for the uber poppy hit "Two Weeks", and a soaring performance of "While You Wait for the Others" ended with audible exclamations of approval peppered throughout the crowd.
Mid-show, Droste took a break from singing in his signature spectral tones to voice his appreciation for Knoxville, where he and the band stayed throughout the weekend leading up to the performance.
Marvelling at the spectacle that is game day weekend, he spoke of wandering around the Market Square farmers' market Saturday morning and wished a happy birthday to "the girl from the coffee shop."
This served to further cement the impression that, despite their undeniable talent and growing success, Grizzly Bear still is very much a group sans pretension.
Closing with a haunting, acoustic rendition of "All We Ask", Grizzly Bear delighted concert goers with a truly enchanting show.