Simon Vozick-Levinson
March 20, 2009 AT 08:20 PM EDT

If anyone has a better art-rock song than Grizzly Bear’s “Ready, Able” in the works, then 2009 is going to be one hell of a year. By far my favorite standout from their upcoming album Veckatimest, “Ready, Able” blew my mind when I first heard it played with the Brooklyn Philharmonic last month. Ditto for when the band played it at eMusic’s SXSW showcase at Austin’s Central Presbyterian Church last night. Something about the lilting melody that singer Edward Droste dives into for the song’s final two minutes and the whirling psychedelic waltz that surrounds it just gets me every time.

Veckatimest is a consummate headphones album, with a level of sonic detailing that Grizzly Bear’s previous releases barely hinted at. Seeing them translate that sound into a vivid, immediate live performance last night with just the four of them on stage was something to behold. They kicked off the evening with a sublime “Cheerleader,” Droste splitting vocal duties with drummer Chris Bear. Later highlights included the insanely catchy single “Two Weeks”; a leaner, spacier version of their 2006 breakout “Knife”; a devastating “While You Wait for the Others” featuring killer guitar work from co-frontman Daniel Rossen; and the band’s contextually complex cover of the Crystals’ “He Hit Me (It Felt Like a Kiss).” (Check out a full setlist after the jump.)

Practically from the opening notes on, the audience was in full worship mode — appropriate enough, considering the location. Grizzly Bear rocking beneath a vaulted church ceiling with an enormous cross on the wall behind them: Now that’s salvation I can believe in. I can’trecommend highly enough that indie-rock fans try to secure tickets tothe Griz’s upcoming spring tour.

Set list:
“Cheerleader”
“Little Brother (Electric)”
“Knife”
“Fine For Now”
“Two Weeks”
“Ready, Able”
“He Hit Me (It Felt Like a Kiss)”
“While You Wait for the Others”
“On a Neck, On a Spit”
“Foreground”

More on Grizzly Bear:
Exclusive new track: Grizzly Bear’s “Cheerleader”
Grizzly Bear and the Brooklyn Philharmonic: A roaring good show
Anticipating Grizzly Bear’s Veckatimest
Ed Droste’s PopWatch blog from Lollapalooza ’08

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