Grizzly Bear, the Brooklyn-based band whose second album “Veckatimest” has not only thrilled mainstream and online critics, but dominated watercooler chatter among the indie rock set, approaches the concert stage with a nonchalance completely in character with its music. The quartet’s 75-minute performance was charming for its introspective stillness, rich harmonies and the occasional sparkle of color; the dynamics one associates with a rock show, however, are nonexistent.
Inspired by ’60s and ’70s acts that emphasized precision in arrangements and maintained an air of naivete, Grizzly Bear heads to a dreamy extreme in which the subtlest punch of melody has the effect of fireworks. Its show forsakes the off-kilter use of instruments that add left-hand turns to the middle of so many of its songs, choosing instead to emphasize the serenity of layered harmony vocals. The simple repeated piano chord that opens the tune “Two Weeks,” in itself not out of the ordinary, was so different from the sounds in the concert’s previous 45 minutes it had a jarring effect.
Few acts so eloquently reflect their influences without sounding like their predecessors; it’s the ideas that were at the core of America, and the density in Phil Spector’s sound, that are employed by Grizzly Bear. That ability to pick and choose riffs, textures and tricks from pop and rock’s past with no adherence to any canon is driving so-called indie rock right now; no other act has excelled like Grizzly Bear at using hi-fi of the ’60s in a modern lo-fi setting.
Part of the appeal of “Veckatimest,” which sold 33,000 copies during the week after its June 5 release, opening at No. 8, is its breeziness and the use of collage, which add drama through the voicing of instruments such as the banjo. Friday’s concert lacked that, with its emphasis squarely on the shine and shimmer of the human voice, the instrumental accompaniment humming along with the modesty of a demo tape.
The band also added a show at the Troubadour on Saturday that quickly sold out. The L.A. shows were among its last before appearing at a string of festivals around the world, among them the Williamsburg Waterfront fest in Brooklyn on Aug. 30.