I’m never usually one to travel for gigs; as much as I enjoy the experience of witnessing a live performance, I like to have the comforting knowledge that I can get there and back easily.

However, upon finding out that Grizzly Bear would be playing at the De La Warr Pavilion in Bexhill, I had to make an exception.

The Brooklyn foursome has been a personal favourite band of mine for some years and with the recent release of their 5th album Painted Ruins, they’ve cemented themselves as heroes of the indie rock scene and have crafted an extraordinary live show to boot.

Opening act Liima whetted the appetite with their bouncy electronic pop, and despite only playing to a half-filled auditorium, the Danish-Finnish quartet managed to rouse the spirits of those who made the early trip to the venue.

While the attendance sadly remained stagnant throughout, it did nothing to deter the headliners from delivering a spellbinding performance.

Beginning with a salvo of songs from the new record, it is clear that the energy with which they deliver tracks such as ‘Four Cypresses’ and ‘Losing All Sense’ on the record translates impeccably on stage.

It wasn’t just the new songs that kept the fans captivated; as a band with five albums under their belt they also have a number of hits and crowd favourites in their arsenal.

Older singles such as ‘Two Weeks’ and ‘While You Wait For The Others’ were highlights from the set, while songs such as ‘Fine For Now’ and ‘Sleeping Ute’ provided some of the more ethereal moments of the evening; the latter also providing a moment of hilarity when singer/guitarist Daniel Rossen’s gear packed in just as the song reached its climax.

While the band stayed relatively reserved regarding audience interaction, the stage patter that frontman Ed Droste did offer was wholesome, appreciatively commenting on the dedication of the travelling crowd and the quaintness of the seaside setting.

What they may have lacked in humour, however, was undoubtedly made up for in terms of musical dexterity, with all four core members combining their voices to create lush harmonies reminiscent of the Beach Boys at their most melancholic.

Bassist Chris Taylor was also functioning as a one-man wind section and fifth auxiliary member Aaron Arntz in charge of operating the swirling synths that add a trademark texture to many of their songs.

As though the euphoric closing track ‘Sun in Your Eyes’ wasn’t enough to satisfy the crowd, the eruption of applause that followed it encouraged the band to emerge for two more songs, delving deeper into the band’s catalogue for renditions of ‘Shift’ and ‘Knife’ respectively.

The subdued choice of tracks for the encore brought a soothing end to an incredible set that provided a whirlwind of emotion and passion from both the band and audience alike.

Reuben Cross

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