The last time Grizzly Bear made an appearance in Detroit, they called the crowd the “least attentive” of their entire tour.

The show, at St. Andrews Hall last October, was slammed on their website. They called out how loud and restless the audience was during their opening set.

So when the band rolled into The Blind Pig Thursday night, it was a bit of surprise that they even ventured back to the Great Lakes state at all. The question of the night was, how would they handle a jammed and noisy bar like The Blind Pig if they hated St. Andrews?

Well, better than expected. Following the success of their 2006 effort Yellow House, Grizzly Bear brought to the Pig their reserved vocal style, crisp lyrics and soft, drifting guitar rhythms.

The experimental prog-rockers Dirty Projectors kicked things off, appearing literally out of the crowd from the back of the room with guitars and drumsticks in hand. The lead singer came out with an alarming parade of screaming and cackling – he sounded like a man being run over by a cheese grater.

Although most of the music was danceable and upbeat, the crowd couldn’t have been more lackluster. A few head bobs and complaints about the plaid-shirted lead’s vocal abilities flowed through the venue. If Grizzly Bear was hoping for a less chatty crowd, they picked the wrong opening act to precede them.

However, the modest Brooklyn group, dressed in standard indie attire that featured blue zip-ups, maroon sweaters and collared shirts – seen earlier sipping herbal tea by their merchandise table – appeared on stage almost magically. Lead vocalist Ed Droste even made the comment, “No dramatic entry. We’re just here.”

After guitarist Daniel Rossen spent time wrapping a pink bandana around his mic to avoid getting his lips shocked by the electricity, he spent several moments attempting to quiet the talkative crowd, giving awkward glances and crooked smiles to the rest of his bandmates, signaling there might be trouble ahead.

But for the most part, the Pig audience obeyed only themselves.

The group opened with “Easier,” the first track from their Pitchfork-approved Yellow House. The song was practically a carbon copy of the album version, though sadly without the trademark banjo or extravagant production flourishes. Yet the band seemed at home playing a song without all the fluff.

Though many of the night’s songs were much louder than their album counterparts, maybe in part trying to drown-out the loud crowd effect, most translated fairly well to the stage. The more raucous “Lullaby” seamlessly moved into an outstanding take of “Knife.” As one of the few songs that drew any sort of real emotion from the audience, “Knife” had most of the crowd harmonizing right along with the band and elicited a few cheers as the opening guitar chords echoed through the Pig.

A few tracks didn’t have quite the transferability of others into the mostly-full bar. “Colorado” sounded helpless, with Droste repetitively chanting, “Colorado, Colorado.” Later the song turned into what sounded like a shitty 311 ocean-side ballad that ached through the increasingly chatty crowd.

“On a Neck, On a Spit” injected some much-needed energy into the crowd with sharp lyrics, louder than expected guitar hysterics and spirited drum work that had the audience swaying right along, clapping and snapping when Droste prompted them to.

Finally, there was vitality coming from the seemingly lifeless band – but then the show ended. No encore. Just a few simple goodbyes as ambient music filled the bar and the lights came up. Most of the crowd seemed confused by the action, while a good majority just turned around and left.

And that was it. No grand exit. Just some simple indie rock that impressed some, but left most heading for the doors.

Grizzly Bear


At The Blind Pig

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