On a grey Saturday evening, Nashville’s renowned EXIT/IN was filled with the intricate melodies and the recognizable cadence of Grizzly Bear co-frontman Daniel Rossen. On a solo tour across the country (he described it at his show as “just me, my car, and a shitload of guitars”) to promote his forthcoming solo debut You Belong There (out Friday 4/8 on Warp Records), the hourlong set was intimate, sparse, and cripplingly beautiful as he brought the complex arrangements and sounds of his entire discography to life.
There was no support, and Rossen unassumingly took the stage right at 8 pm armed with three guitars and a Rhodes organ set up to his side. To play a set of largely unreleased material is a brave endeavor — and to do it by yourself? Even bolder. However, it set the stage for a night where it was simply impossible to take your eyes off of Rossen as he showcased why he’s generally regarded as one of the best multi-instrumentalists in indie music. His style of guitar is simply awe-inspiring — dense, fingerpicked melodies co-existed with hyperactive delay pedals to create a symphony of sound that’s unheard of to come out of one human playing the guitar. Rossen began the set with “Repeat the Pattern” off of You Belong There, and the audience joined him on a journey that dated back to both the early 2000s era of Grizzly Bear and Department of Eagles and his 2012 solo EP Silent Hour / Golden Mile. He was remarkably humble and self-effacing the entire time; more often than not, he prefaced his newer tracks with “I’ve never played these before, and I’m not sure you’re even going to like them”, only to utterly stun the audience into silence and admiration. The night came to a beautiful conclusion with the (according to him) first-ever performance of Grizzly Bear’s “Smothering Green”, a powerful B-side from the Shields era, that occurred after the audience requested it at the end of the set. An emotional crescendo with Rossen powerfully singing “Why don’t you want me / Why don’t you hold me down and cry” left concertgoers with a powerful memory that might never be recreated. With Grizzly Bear facing an uncertain future after the departure of founding member Ed Droste, Rossen’s set at EXIT/IN was an astounding example of his singular talent that is ultimately rare in this industry. Check out our photos of the night below: