Middle of Map Fest: Grizzly Bear to light up Crossroads KC stage

Grizzly Bear
Grizzly Bear

The indie-rock community was roiled when Ed Droste of Grizzly Bear decried the state of the music industry on Instagram three months ago.

After claiming that "there is no value put on live music anymore," Droste revealed that he and his bandmates "literally lose money" on their tours.

Fans in Kansas City can assess the worth of a Grizzly Bear performance during the band’s headlining outing at Crossroads KC for Ink magazine’s Middle of the Map Fest on Friday, June 29.

Droste elaborated in his contentious series of social media missives that the band’s insistence on presenting “the fullest show we can with all live instruments and a good light show” puts Grizzly Bear in the red.

Many of the group’s admirers expressed shock that a band as revered as Grizzly Bear struggles financially. Other analysts saw the sentiment of Droste’s posts as an inevitable consequence of indie-rock’s commercial decline in recent years.

Yet anyone who witnessed Grizzly Bear’s previous appearance at the Middle of the Map Fest in 2013 knows that the ensemble isn’t a run-of-the-mill indie-rock band content to go through the motions. The band’s meticulous performance at the Uptown Theater was accompanied by mesmerizing lighting that included illuminated mobile orbs.

The elaborate production affirmed Grizzly Bear’s reputation as a band that makes transcendent sounds that explore rarified psychological landscapes. The nuanced approach began as Droste’s solo project more than 15 years ago. By the time Grizzly Bear’s breakout album "Veckatimest" was released in 2009, he’d been joined by his current bandmates Christopher Bear, Daniel Rossen and Chris Taylor.

"Veckatimest" includes Grizzly Bear’s breakout hit "Two Weeks," one of the defining songs of the indie-rock boom of the previous decade. Pitchfork, the tastemaking publication that played a major role in elevating the status of Grizzly Bear, suggested that the song is "unapologetically retro and baroque ... like a gloriously ornate float in an Easter parade."

Many of the selections on Grizzly Bear’s sublime 2017 album "Painted Ruins" sound as if the master tapes of the classic Beach Boys’ album "Pet Sounds" had been hurled through a stained glass window, resulting in melodies that are wondrous prisms of fractured pop.

Droste predicted that "I think we are about to enter a live music drought" in his notorious Instagram outburst. Perhaps.

Yet Grizzly Bear’s appearance at the Middle of the Map Fest is a key component of a two-day musical feast that will be longingly remembered should a sonic famine ever hit.

Ink's Middle of the Map Fest

The main-stage events will take place at Crossroads KC at Grinders. Bands will also perform each night at the RecordBar, the Brick and the Black Dolphin. Friday, June 29 and Saturday, June 30. Tickets range from $45 for Friday to $200 for a 2-day, VIP pass.