Band of Horses, Grizzly Bear Rock Williamsburg
Band of Horses headlined a hipster’s dream lineup with indie darlings Grizzly Bear this Sunday at the Williamsburg Waterfront. The show was met with sunny skies and a sold out crowd, with audience members ranging from your average teenage fan to the older dads jamming on their Father’s Day.
Band of Horses capped their three month long tour with a commendably balanced set, covering all three albums, including their newest, “Infinite Arms,” while also fitting in two covers and a few impromptu songs. After opening with a cover, the band stormed into their most popular and pervasive song, the beautiful and elegiac “The Funeral,” which was met with storming applause. After a booming performance of their most popular song, lead singer Ben Bridwell joked, “Goodnight everybody!”
Now a six-piece, with Bridwell the only remaining member from their 2006 debut, Band of Horses’ songs sound richer and more expansive than ever, although the band has most recently released their quietest album to date. The newer tracks were met with enthusiastic applause, as the lush strings of album opener “Factory” and jaunty chords on “NW Apt.” were played almost suspiciously flawless.
The highlights of an energetic and all-around excellent show were the exuberant “Weed Party,” the slow-building “Monsters” and the more somber “No One’s Gonna Love You.” There was never a dull moment, though, in their hour and forty minute set, and the band lavished in the moment, displaying their road endurance without any signs of being worn down.
The Beach Boys-influenced psychedelics of Grizzly Bear may not have been the most ideal soundtrack for Brooklyn’s sunny, open-air venue, but the four members of the group sounded confident and made the Waterfront sound like a church hall’s acoustics. Beginning with the opener off of their critically acclaimed 2009 album, “Veckatimest,” “Southern Point” tested the venue’s speakers with shifting dynamics and heavy bass, as singer Daniel Rossen repetitiously crooned, “In the end you’ll never find me now.”
The group performs like a cooler, and a lot less sexier, boy band, with each member flaunting his vocal chords, often while playing another instrument. Whenever lead singer Ed Droste was not singing, he was embellishing another singer’s vocals with his melodic hums, gasps, and moans. Newer hits like “While You Wait for the Others,” “Cheerleader,” and “Two Weeks” all received the vocal adornment, sounding brilliant on the “Veckatimest”-heavy set, which sported only “Knife” from their excellent album, “Yellow House.”
Opener Karen Elson, wife of The White Stripes frontman Jack White, also played her country-twanged folk with aplomb. Her short but captivating set did what few openers actually succeed in doing: holding an audience’s attention and setting expectations for the following band. She definitely has potential to attract a large audience, especially in the south. In fact, all these bands could be bigger because they showed that they can back up their excellent studio albums live – a feat that is sometimes uncommon in the rock-n-roll arena.
Kevin Stevens can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org