Wednesday, November 21

grizzly bear at the opera house

Photo from GB's website here.
For the past month I have been avoiding Grizzly Bear like mad. I stopped listening to them, avoided their updates on different forms of social media and battered my friends when they mentioned their concert. My Grizzly Bear electric fence was nothing to do with a phobia or hatred for the band but the complete opposite - I love the band but I had no ticket to their one-time Wellington gig due to the classic student tragedy titled 'Insufficient Funds'.

It had reached the afternoon of the day that Grizzly Bear was performing in Wellington and to that point my isolation from the band had been successful. However, after walking down Cuba Street (the location for inevitable touring musician sightings) I noticed a man with a fantastic nose and slight bags under his eyes and I suddenly realised I was staring at Edward Droste from Grizzly Bear. I fanatically texted everyone I knew about the rare sighting of the foreign bear and simultaneously formed an unusual desire to tweet the band once I got home. I've always thought of Twitter as a social media platform for circle-jerking sardines but the events of yesterday changed everything. Within minutes of tweeting the band they had replied asking me why I couldn't afford to go. I broke out in a sweat trying to think of something witty to sum up my poorness. Their next reply knocked me out "@Loulou_CB alright, ticket under Lou Callister-Baker with a plus 1 for you. May your brokeness not last long! hope you enjoy the show :)". In disbelief I asked them what I needed to do, their short, loving reply sent me AWOL: "@Loulou_CB guest list! Xxx".

A few Facebook messages and phone calls later I found myself outside the Opera House (along Manners Street) with a small group of friends, hardly comprehending my luck and the band's generosity. It was the epitome of cool to see the short, hand-written list that made up the guest list (I'd like to fantasise that one of the band members had written my name down himself). The seats we were assigned were bang in the center of the upper-floor giving us an astounding view of the stage in the intimate, charming venue. Just before Grizzly Bear came on, a couple next to me were handed, by an usher, a G.B. CD with a little sticky note on it from the band. A few more seats down sat the guys from Two Cartoons who had also been given tickets through Twitter. We were sitting in a row of bedazzled guest-listers who seemed to all be the recipients of little Grizzly Bear miracles. But miracle-recipient or not, the undisguised excitement of the adoring audience was a wonder in itself - canoodling couples and seat-dancing fans were everywhere like one big extended family at some sort of massive Gypsy wedding.

At 9pm the band took their places on the stage. To the far right was Christopher Bear on drums and backing vocals. To his left stood Daniel Rossen (vocals, guitar, keyboard, banjo), next was Edward Droste (vocals, keyboards, omnichord) and on the far left stood Chris Taylor (bass, backing vocals and an array of instruments). Behind the band was their touring keyboard player, Aaron Arntz, who at several points in the night dashed around the seated audience below us.

Needless to say Grizzly Bear's performance was beyond sensational. I have never been so hypnotised by musical talent - the incredible light display only furthered my trance. While the band performed songs from an array of their albums, it was the ones from their album 'Veckatimest' that tended to get the most shouts of glee. I loved the way Droste projected his haunting, flawless voice that riveted off the walls of the perfectly shaped Opera House, and the way the the band worked together to produce an intricate, harmonised sound which at different points highlighted the individual talent of each member, doing away with the concept of a 'front man'. My boyfriend (who had been seated downstairs) admitted to me afterwards that one song ('Foreground') brought him to tears.

Now, after one of those sleepless night that always follows an indescribable event, I write this short piece to express my thankfulness to Grizzly Bear for their kindness and talent. I read recently that the band isn't sure that they'll make another record due to the unpredictability of life. Well, whatever happens in the band's future, here's a homage to what unpredictability can bring.



  1. Twitter can be pretty excellent if you surround yourself with the right people, but I don't need to tell you that. This is pretty much more exciting than if you had been able to buy a ticket!


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