Grizzly Bear’s Saturday evening show at Outside Lands, as they confirmed from the stage, was the last stop on the tour of their 2012 album, Shields. It’s been a long haul for the band, with the Golden Gate Park performance marking their 105th show of the year. Tomorrow, they exclaimed with some relief, marks the beginning of their summer vacation – though they took care to note how pleased they were to be making their spot at Outside Lands the finale. It’s the end of a whirlwind week that’s also seen them take in such diverse gigs as Lollapalooza, Farmer’s Market in Pioneer Park in Salt Lake City, and (just the day before Outside Lands) the Hollywood Forever Cemetery in Los Angeles.
Grizzly Bear’s whimsical, mildly experimental form of alternative pop-rock has benefited a lot from the grind, the group’s live sound having tightened considerably. The crowd was a bit thin at the start, considering the Top-Ten-charting of Shields, most likely because the band went on at the same time that Yeah Yeah Yeahs took the main stage. Hellman Hollow was full by the third song, however, for a set of a dozen tunes, more than half of them from Shields.
Other songs in the set came from their 2006 album Yellow House, with the big crowd pleaser remaining “The Knife.” The set was configured at one point in a nod to that breakout album’s title, flooding the stage with yellow light as the fog rolled in. Grizzly Bear might not be the flashiest of bands to grace the big video screens at such large-scale events, a la Yeah Yeah Yeahs, who if anything need those outsize images to get over, given their somewhat muddy live sound. But they’re clearly comfortable with their growing presence on the festival circuit, emphasizing repeatedly how much they enjoy playing events like Outside Lands. This year marked their first appearance at the Golden Gate Park event.
As a testament to both the band’s widening appeal and the gradually broadening demographic of the youth-geared festival, two of the excited listeners in the crowd included a pair of fans in their fifties and sixties who came all the way from St. Louis. They’ve traveled to Golden Gate Park in San Francisco for Outside Lands for three years running, simply because they love the lineups. And, they add, they’ve fallen in love with Grizzly Bear.