SXSW showcase reviews
Reviewed by Doug Freeman, Fri., March 20, 2009
Central Presbyterian Church, Thursday, March 19
While Grizzly Bear's later set was principally responsible for the capacity crowd greeting opener Girls, the San Francisco quartet proved worthy of the slot. The jittery yet soulful vocals spouting ennui over swooning garage chime and jangle were much tighter than the band's slacker aesthetic suggested, especially on closing blog-buzzer "Lust for Life." Canada's Rural Alberta Advantage demonstrated equal promise, if less convincing execution. Nils Edenloff's vocals unloaded a nasally wail but often competed uncomfortably with the massively overwhelming backbeat. The showcase, however, belonged to Grizzly Bear, with the church serving sanctuary to the Brooklyn quartet's intricately mellowed arrangements. Previewing songs from its highly anticipated Veckatimest, the group broke out a loping bassline on new "Cheerleader," which opened the set, followed by the scruffier rhythm of "Little Brother" from 2006's Yellow House. Grizzly Bear's allure springs from its mesmerizing, lava-lamplike harmonies, the floating strands slowly congealing and dripping apart with gently viscous fluidity through "Knife" and bubbling syncopation on "Fine for Now." Equally captivating is the emotion conveyed in the group's melodic chants, giving voice to the un-articulatable in the hesitant longing of "Two Weeks" or the disillusion in its disturbingly beautiful rendition of the Crystals' "He Hit Me (And It Felt Like a Kiss)."