Well, that was wonderful. On Saturday night at the Brooklyn Academy Of Music, Final Fantasy and Grizzly Bear experimented with full sets of material accompanied by the Brooklyn Philharmonic. The results were masterful, obvs. Final Fantasy’s material is inherently symphonic, so the orchestral interpretation was a natural step. For Yellow House, the reinterpretation was more of a leap, although really just as logical: that album’s dynamic and harmonic richness was begging for a night like this.
Last year the Times hailed Owen Pallett as the quintessential figure in the return of the one-man band, so there was a certain poetry in seeing Final Fantasy’s works expanded by the Brooklyn Philharmonic’s sweeping and nimble arrangements on Friday night. Owen sang and sat at piano all night, playing relatively little, not even a violin within reach, self-deprecating about his instrumental-castration while captivating over a nine-song set that hit the high points along his discography (from Has A Good Home to this year’s EPs). Along with Nico Muhly on celeste and the National’s Bryan Devendorf on drums, Owen invited Aaron Dessner to play electric bass on a pair of new tunes (“The End Of Time” and “Tryst With Mephistopheles”). When Dessner stood with his electric bass, Owen occasionally peeling strips of tape from his piano for percussive effect, the high-low nature of these BAM collaborations snapped into focus. Then, and also when the announcer introduced the series as a collaboration between the Philharmonic and “indie-rock ensembles,” which made all the musicians in the crowd chortle.
Grizzly Bear’s set was custom tailored for this one evening with the Philharmonic, revisiting and reinterpreting yet-again a catalog of songs that’s seen revisiting and reinterpretation a few times now, via remix CDs, EPs, and their tendency to transform material on tour. (Some only to be played again if with an orchestra, said Ed.) Nico Muhly handled arrangements for the Grizzly Bear portion, although we’re told they aren’t necessarily indicative of what he contributed to the new LP. Still, there were songs without orchestral accompaniment (“Two Weeks,” “Little Brother,” “While You Wait For The Others,” “Deep Blue Sea,” “He Hit Me,” and “Reprise” with the Dessner brothers on guitar and banjo — they are everywhere); during that time BP conductor Michael Christie made himself busy smiling at Chris Bear’s stick work. Game recognizes game.
The list of songs Grizzly Bear had never performed live: “Central and Remote” (so good), “Plans,” “Reprise,” Horn Of Plenty’s “Campfire,” and three from Veckatimest: the subtly psychedlic, rousing and grooving victrola-era pop of “Ready, Able,” the Yellow House-redolent, sepia-toned “Dory,” and the set-closing, bittersweet and majestic torch-song “Foreground.” Together they effectively fucked with the idea that this new album will be one big sunny pop jam, adding dimension to our expectations while heightening them. People brought recording equipment of the audio/visual variety. Dig in:
And the other two new songs come via oneforthegooddays:
Some video, both with the orchestra…
“Deep Blue Sea”
Worth mentioning that the show-closing “He Hit Me” cover was intense and if video pops up we’ll surely post. Veckatimest is out 5/26 via Warp.
FINAL FANTASY SETLIST
01 “None Of You Will Ever See A Penny”
02 “Horsetail Feathers”
03 “Keep The Dog Quiet”
04 “Lewis Takes Action”
05 “Arctic Circle”
06 “He Poos Clouds”
07 “The End Of Time” (w/ Aaron Dessner of The National on bass)
08 “Tryst With Mephistopheles” (w/ Aaron Dessner of The National on bass)
09 “The CN Tower Belongs To The Dead “
(Most of the set featured The National’s Bryan Devendorf on drums and Nico Muhly on celeste)
GRIZZLY BEAR SETLIST
01 “Easier” (with Aaron and Bryce Dessner of The National on banjo and guitar)
02 “Central and Remote”
03 “Ready, Able”
04 “Two Weeks” (band only, no orchestra)
07 “Reprise” (with Aaron and Bryce)
08 “Little Brother” (band only, no orchestra)
11 “While You Wait” (band only, no orchestra)
13 “Deep Blue Sea” (band only, no orchestra)
14 “He Hit Me” (band only, no orchestra)