Live Review: Grizzly Bear, Jens Lekman

12 March 2018 | 1:57 pm | Joe Dolan

"While Grizzly Bear might have a chip on their shoulder, what will never be questioned is their sheer talent."

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Silently walking onstage with guitar in hand and a baseball cap over his eyes, the crowd is easily forgiven for assuming that Jens Lekman is just a roadie doing soundcheck. It's not until that unmistakable Swedish accent comes out that they realise and a hush falls over the audience as he croons in that special Jens Lekman way.

With a band that Lekman met "just three days ago", the folk-pop star serenades his audience with beautiful melodies interspersed with hilarious anecdotes about songwriting. From hijacking a carnival ride in Hotwire The Ferris Wheel, to his sprawling inner monologue from An Argument With Myself, Lekman showcases his immense talents while making everyone feel warmed and welcomed.

On the basis of name alone, it was only a matter of time before Brooklyn indie mainstays Grizzly Bear would grace the stage at Melbourne Zoo. After a mild false start in forgetting to bring one of their members on stage, the band rip into their trademark art-rock sound under a sea of flashing lights and applause.

Mourning Sound kicks off the upbeat side of things, with drummer Christopher Bear rocking out at the front of stage alongside his fellow Grizzlies. However, Bear seems to be the only one really feeling the energy of the gig. While he sets off on a cacophony of incredible beats, the other members seem overly reserved and almost despondent about the show. Perhaps it's a case of the jitters - frontman Edward Droste admits that this is "probably [their] biggest crowd ever" - but after Droste's venting over Instagram just a few days ago, it feels like something more.

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Despite their questionable aloofness, Grizzly Bear are still the proficient musical masters for which they've come to be known. The soundscapes this band create, layering seemingly infinite elements upon one another, is still an impressive thing to witness. Nowhere is this more present than in their recent single Losing All Sense, wherein the sudden tempo and stylistic changes feel as natural and surreal as they do on record.

With a 14-year back catalogue behind them, it's incredible how excited Grizzly Bear's fans are to hear the new stuff. While the obvious cries of Two Weeks are yelled out through the night, it's the tracks from 2017's Painted Ruins that seems to resonate with the crowd the most. Brooding stage presence aside (or perhaps because of it), there is an almost teenage exuberance to their sound tonight. As Sun In Your Eyes echoes out signalling the end of the evening, it's clear that while Grizzly Bear might have a chip on their shoulder, what will never be questioned is their sheer talent.