The Antlers, Grizzly Bear, and Sleigh Bells - Terminal 5 - 12/14/12
Better than: Cinderella
Photo by Harley Oliver Brown
"It feels amazing to be here tonight," the Antlers' Peter Silberman announced to a packed Terminal 5 on Friday night. "This is such a well-put-together event." It felt pretty amazing for me, too, since up until an hour previously I didn't think I was going to get on the press list for the super sold-out Hurricane Sandy benefit, 4 Artists/1 Cause. But at the final hour, the fairy godpublicist granted me one ticket to the indie antithesis to Tuesday's epic 12/12/12 concert, with Cults, The Antlers, Grizzly Bear, and Sleigh Bells instead of Bruce, the Stones, Paulvana, and Alicia Keys. Even though I sped uptown as fast as I could in my yellow pumpkin, forced to listen to the Tajikistani driver who said American women just get married so they could get divorced, get alimony, and get Botox, I knew I would probably miss the first act.
- Sleigh Bells' Beyoncé Cover Could Stand To Get A Little More Bodied
- Q&A: The Antlers' Peter Silberman On Working Out Demons, Playing More Guitar, And His Favorite Dogs
- Live: Grizzly Bear Shimmers at Radio City Music Hall
Sure enough, I arrived after opener Cults but caught the Antlers in time to hear Silberman's falsetto coos on "Hounds," which sailed like the voice of a hipster angel above the three floors of chattering crowds drinking $13 vodka Red Bulls. But hating on Terminal 5 is like talking about the weather (plus, as mentioned before, all the proceeds were going to charity), so I tried thinking about the venue's club-like layout and impersonality as a stand-in for the hospital Silberman sang about on Hospice's "Epilogue". One of the saddest of Antlers' already devastating catalogue, on record it's just Silberman singing with an acoustic guitar, coming to terms with the fact someone he loves has just died; with the rest of the band onstage, it exploded at the last minute into a cacophony of wrenched guitars that finally drowned out the background noise. Then their set ended, DJ Roofeo put on "Niggas in Paris", and the guy next to me started rapping, "I hope I don't have to go outside/ It's fucking cold outside/ Fuck that shit."
Roofeo continued to rifle through your standard "throw your hands in the ay-er" club bangers like TNGHT, Kendrick Lamar, G.O.O.D. Music, and, of course, "Killing Me Softly". His interstitial set leading up to Grizzly Bear got more of the crowd moving than Andrew Wyatt's more technically adept set prior to Sleigh Bells, which saw the Miike Snow frontman actually using the digital two-turntable Serato at his disposal. He segued seamlessly between slinky, sexy house sleepers like Bucuresti's "Blacknuzz" and Cristian S' "The Power of Now," neither of which I had heard before he put them on. In objective retrospect, maybe neither disc jockey's approach was entirely appropriate for this event. At least they helped pass the time in different ways watching each band's increasingly complicated setup get built and torn down.
Benefits are always laced with the well-meaning but unavoidably uncomfortable relationship between those enjoying themselves in attendance and the suffering beneficiaries--in simpler terms, I suppose, the haves and the have-nots--which the artists seemed to try to acknowledge as much as possible. Grizzly Bear's Ed Droste was the first to mention the events of Friday morning. "Despite today's tragic news, there's still so much positive energy in here and I hope we can keep doing events like this in the future."
Even though I had just seen them less than a week before, the grandiose synths on songs like Shields' "Yet Again" and "Sleeping Ute" still resonated within me and the commodious space. I noticed things I hadn't before, like the "Everybody Wants to Rule the World" guitar line on "A Simple Answer" and the quavering edge, even more knife-like in person, to Daniel Rossen's wail. Grizzly Bear kept the tone from getting too ethereal for its own good, though, with a story about how new keyboardist Aaron Arntz got the shit beat out of him by a bouncer after he stage-dove to "While You Wait For the Others".