Grizzly Bear and Spoon at The Capitol Theatre
For each of their debut shows at the historic Capitol Theater in Port Chester New York, indie establishments Grizzly Bear and Spoon each gave performances that exceeded expectations—yet all the while, have come to be completely expected given each outfit’s performing chops and grueling studio schedules.
As concert-goers filed into the venue, they were greeted by a cacophony of laughter, banter, and the clinking of pint glasses spilling out from the lobby bar, Garcia’s. A warm, buttery waft accompanied by the pop pop pop of theater kernels whose scent is by now embedded deep within the thick carpet leading the patrons to the Capitol’s main room, whose three stories blanketed in velvet chairs further beckon people inside. As multi–colored projections of clouds and trees swirl about the room, so do the mingling crowd, although some spectators sit cross legged as they camp out on the floor waiting for the first act to take the stage.
Without any notice, the diagonal sheets of crumpled, gauzy fabric draping the stage on either side light up an icy blue as the members of Grizzly Bear took the stage, each clad in a monochrome shades-of-gray outfit to match the set. As the stormy panels glowed with flashes of light from the floor, the band dove right in to their set without any introduction or greeting. To begin the show, bassist Chris Taylor traded in his electric for a sax for the moody opener “Aquarian,” which immediately led into the drum heavy downbeats of “Losing All Sense.” By “Cut-Out,” guitarist Daniel Rossen was already on his third axe of the night, and although the room wasn’t completely packed, lead singer Ed Droste’s vocals filled the space all the way to the top of The Cap’s famous domed ceiling.
A basic stage set-up with an inverted lineup of drums in the front right, keyboards in the back, Grizzly Bear’s members are comfortable with letting their songs—and the songs’ ability to grab at the hearts and souls of their listeners—speak for themselves, rarely interacting with the audience through any means beyond their music. Ahead of song four, the Shields hit “Yet Again,” Droste addressed the crowd for the first time, thanking fans for attending this “dream lineup” of a performance, before diving into haunting, light as air harmonies and metallic strums. An electric jam at the end of the song—during which Droste finally threw on his six-string—yielded flashes of rippling light on the gauze, the overlapping circles pulsing to the beat. After a brief pause, the minimalist singer started playing the rhythm for the smoky, “Fine For Now,” the stage this time lighting up a dusty rose, in a synesthesis of the shy yet powerful lyrics and instrumentals.
Although the following 12–minute run comprised of “Ready, Able,” “Four Cypresses,” and “Mourning Sound,” lulled the crowd back down with their mellow drone, an unusually charged “Sleeping Ute” got folks literally back on their feet and swaying. Finally, with “Two Weeks,” the crowd crackled back to life, the room and walls buzzing with energy and bass as the crowd sang along. The band kept it rolling with a synthy version of “Knife,” before launching into a set-closing sequence of “While You Wait for the Others,” “Three Rings,” and fan-favorite “Sun In Your Eyes,” complete with a leave-it-all-out-there jazzy jam, flashes of light and bursts of fog that streaked through the stage, turning the set dressings into erupting nimbus clouds.
After a brief calm, half the crew begins to switch out the sound equipment, the other half wheeling huge vertical panels decorated with horizontal, slightly crooked lines onto the stage. The set’s optical illusion continued into the song by the prolific Spoon, as the backing panels oscillated between a sultry orange glow into an alien green. A little more ostentatious in their onstage persona—Spoon’s section of the evening was laden with strobe lights, head banging dance moves, whammy bar soloing, crowd high-fiving, wacky stage antics, and loud(-er) clothing—Spoon took a no-holds-barred counter approach to Grizzly Bear’s no frills performance. Following a blisteringly hot “Knock Knock,” Spoon cooled off with a chilly “Inside Out,” as front man Britt Daniel dropped to his knees, professing to the crowd, “I’m alright, are you alright? I’m OK, are you OK?” before teasing fans with a countdown to a double keyboard and synth interlude, after which Daniel declared, “This is gonna be a good night!” Throughout the following set, the post-punk icons shared some songs off of their newest album Hot Thoughts, followed by flaming renditions of the now-classics “My Mathematical Mind,” and “The Underdog” that left ears stinging and feet aching. After leaving fans wanting more with an electric “Black Like Me,” which unleashed both Daniels and rhythm-guitarist Eric Harvey’s most guttural guitar during the final 30 seconds, Spoon reprised their set with an encore complete with “Small Stakes,” the anthemic “The Way We Get By,” and perhaps unintentional ode to New York, “The Rent I Pay.”