Grizzly Bear, Walt Disney Concert Hall

I'd only really ever heard one song by Grizzly Bear, "Knife", but I really wanted to experience the acoustics of the Walt Disney Concert Hall in action, so last Saturday I attended a crossover concert composed of two halves: before intermission, the LA Philharmonic played three pieces that inspired Grizzly Bear, and after intermission, Grizzly Bear played a set on the same stage.

The 2,265 seat main auditorium is the most intimate classical music venue I've ever been in. The audience surrounds the stage, a contrast to the usual alignment in which the entire audience sits behind the conductor. All the seating is stadium style, so even seated behind Yao Ming you'd have a decent view of the stage.

The acoustics of the auditorium (designed by Yasuhisa Toyota of Nagata Acoustics) are stunning. Seated inside, with curved cedar sound panels like ribs on the ceiling, you feel as if you're in the belly of a whale carved by Gepetto himself.

The classical pieces on the program:

Boccherini (Berio) - Ritirata notturna di Madrid

Britten - Four Sea Interludes from Peter Grimes

Stravinsky - Firebird Suite (1919)

It's been a long time since I've been to a classical music concert, though in years past I've always tried to attend at least three or four shows a year. Hearing pieces I've played before reminds me of my childhood, and classical music in general recalls weekend nights home with the family, my dad reading a Chinese newspaper, my mom cooking, my sisters on the phone or playing, me buried in some book, a classical LP playing in the background.

At intermission my friend showed me around the hall, outside and in. Gehry's work doesn't always work for me, but this structure is gorgeous and alive. A series of pathways allow you to navigate between all the hall's shaped metal petals, with many sweeping views of surrounding downtown LA.

Grizzly Bear's music is difficult to describe, all vocal harmonies over dreamy sonic landscapes, psychedelically mesmerizing as transported by the crystal clear acoustics of the hall. Just a well-conceived concert.

Grizzly Bear - Yellow House

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