Grizzly Bear – Anson Rooms, Bristol, Nov ’09

Now the Anson Rooms isn’t exactly the ideal location. Miles away from Temple Meads station, out of the main hub of Bristol, and with the venue itself representing something of a village hall, one could imagine the evening being a total loss from the beginning. But try this for size – the dulcet tones and tunes of Grizzly Bear, supported by St Vincent, who makes way more sound than you would think possible, eargerly onlooked by a crowd spanning all the demographics, with a lighting rig to match and overtake anything Fever Ray could come up with. Not too bad when you mix all the ingredients together.

Having only really started my in-depth gig research a week or so before the event (some how time just disappears…), I felt a little unprepared for what might meet me through the many, many doors of Bristol’s student union. However, with a pre-pint gig in the lovely Big Chill bar, two intrepid explores braved the rain and lack of directions and found the Anson Rooms. Unfortunately the competence of the bar staff here was somewhat lessened compared to Big Chill, but it is a derivative of a (slightly arrogant) place of higher education. One must pick ones battles. TIP – do not leave your ID in the cloak room as you may need it. I did. And was told I was “a lot older” than the barman thought when I’d retrived it. Charming.

St Vincent I was dubious about. I’d explored her myspace music, but that was about it. Truth be told, she seemed a little pretentious. A little Joanna Newsom, maybe. Only a lot less annoying. This evening, though, she was excellent. Far be it from me to judge her plugging an iPod into the equipment at the beginning, because this made the experience so much better than one person playing one intrument for thirty minutes. Not that that’s always bad, just quite commonplace. This girl was like a modern-day Mike Oldfield. And she was confident, and spoke to the crowd. She had good numbers, she strayed from the generic and, although she may have been faking it – who knows -, felt like it was an honour to be there, not like everyone in the crowd should already know her name. In short, she was an excellent support. It wasn’t a case of “Come on, try and impress me support band I don’t know much about!” Very, very unusual.

Grizzly Bear. Are these people almost as nice and as bashful as Guillemots, Belle and Sebastian AND Fleet Foxes all together? Yes. Just as talented? Of course. Why has it taken so long for people to sit up and listen? God knows. But they do now, and they should. We were treated to the delights of ‘Two Weeks’, ‘Colorado’ and, because Mr Daniel Rossen had a “twinkle in his eye”, ‘Deep Blue Sea’. Bass player Christ Taylor amazed us by getting out more and more instruments that he could play – and not just play, but play well – , and they, too, like St Vincent, adopted the “thanks for having us, it’s been lovely” stance that makes you want to see them again. It’s always much easier to pay for something when people are nice about it.

A very pleasant evening, minus the run for the train at the end!


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