GRIZZLY BEAR KEEPS IT SIMPLE AT DICKINSON COLLEGE
Written By: Andrew Mashas
I don’t make any attempt to venture into elitist snobbery, looking down on the plentiful serfs that exist within the realm of music-fandom. But, it’s an odd paradigm for the independent band in conjunction with the independent band fan. The independent bands, like all bands, want to use their music, and possibly their message, to expand their customer base. Whether that is in album and merchandise sales or the main source of any independent band’s paycheck–ticket sales–the members of these bands need to make a living. It’s simple dollars and cents; they are human beings. The band’s fans, however, do not have the band’s financial interest at heart. They are completely selfish in this regard, for they do not want the band to expand their fan base because they feel that they have some sort of auspiciously fashionable rights to the band’s music. It makes them feel exclusive. It makes them feel special.
I must say that I hold the central convictions of not wanting my favorite bands, including Brooklyn based Grizzly Bear, who performed at Dickinson College on May 1st, to expand their fan base. Sorry Grizzly Bear. However, let me say this with full authority: I do not sympathize with the rest of the hipster universe. These hipsters want exclusive rights to a certain bands’ fan base so they can acclaim to a higher elitist notion over the huddled masses of regular “radio” music fans. I don’t want my favorite bands to get popular for another selfish reason. Grizzly Bear playing at Dickinson College is the exact reason. I don’t want these bands to play at bigger venues, which equates to bigger ticket sales, which equates to further travels I’ll have to make and more difficult parking, etc. Worst of all, it equates to viewing a concert on a big Jumbotron, which is no fun for anyone.
In the two Central Pa college shows I’ve been to in the past six months, Grizzly Bear and Iron and Wine, I was able to come within five feet of the band members before the show even started. Sam Beam made his way down the ticket line at Messiah College, and I found myself walking alongside the venue building at Dickinson College where the members of Grizzly Bear were chatting it up with their openers, the Morning Benders. It was amazing. It made them seem human. Even though both times I became like a giddy schoolgirl instead of getting the courage to say something to them, it was incredible just being able to update my Facebook status with such news. You can’t get that at a big venue. My last big venue show was Coldplay last summer at the Wachovia center. It was a great show, mind you, but ticket prices were in the triple digit range.
The evening began with the reason I even found out about the show in the first place. After purchasing The Morning Bender’s album Big Echo, I quickly became addicted to each track. The sound differential between this album and their debut was so immense that I was drawn to their tour dates. I noticed they were playing at Dickinson College the first Saturday in May and clicked even further. On Dickinson’s website, I saw something that made me shout at the top of my lungs at 1:30 in the morning. Grizzly Bear was the main act, and the Morning Benders were to serve as their opener. I couldn’t believe it. How could this be happening? Due to lack of advertising, no one that I knew of seemed to know this show was happening.
Now, as I said before, I do hate watching those Jumbotrons, whether they are at the Wachovia Center or Hershey Stadium, but at the Anita Tuvin Schlechter Auditorium at Dickinson College my body could be not be closer to the front of the crowd. I watched the band’s every move, never taking my eyes off of them. Each band simply did what they do best–played beautiful music by stretching their equipment to make a complex plethora of sound as members contributed and fed off one another. Even though this was not the first time I’d seen Grizzly Bear, they were by far at their greatest, clicking on all cylinders as their wall of sound and music felt like it was straight from the record. Grizzly Bear is clearly one of the tightest bands I’ve ever seen live. Whether it’s Ed Droste or Daniel Rossen, each member knows the specific role they play during each measure and each beat. It was an amazing sight to see. Grizzly Bear played plenty of tracks from their critically lauded 2009 release Veckaitimest, along with several of songs from what I believe to be one of the greatest albums to ever be produced: Yellow House. Even though there was some idiot next to me trying to show off to his friends by guessing what song would be next (and oddly enough he was right most of the time) I knew that we shared that one thing in common: we were witnessing greatness. Channeling into the music is one of those euphoric moments that attracts me to shows again and again, and this time was no different. Going to these types of shows will never get old. If Dickinson College will book them, I will come.
The Morning Benders and Grizzly Bear show at Dickinson College will go down as one of the best shows I’ve ever seen, even though I’ve seen big wigs like Coldplay at the Wachovia Center, Dave Matthews in Hershey, and multiple Phish shows. The band known more for their small bit in a Volkswagon commercial than any stadium-seating gravitas was able to shock and awe me by the end of the night. As I was at a loss for words outside of “wow” and “amazing,” I realized that I had no interest in telling people about the show. For if I do that, then that’s another fan they might acquire…a slippery slope to be sure.