« Idol Worship: Barberie To Host 'American Idol Extra?' | Main | Idol Worship: Week 2 News Recap »

A Tale Of Two Animal Collectives

Jaded Insider presents two different takes on Animal Collective's Jan. 21 show at New York's Bowery Ballroom:

Animal Collective's celebration of the just-released "Merriweather Post Pavilion" wasn't just a show, it was an event, what with the incredible amount of buzz surrounding the album, coveted guest list spots being so few and tickets selling out so quickly.

But surprisingly the crowd gathered to worship at the altar of Animal Collective wasn't the typical indie-loving plaid-shirted, bespectacled clan. Dreadlocked, glow necklace-wearing hippies rubbed elbows with tattooed bikers and suited yuppies in an assembly as mottled and eclectic as the music itself.

Anyone who thought the tunes on "Merriweather" were less confrontational and electrified than previous AC efforts were proven wrong after hearing them played live. With strobe lights flashing, Avey Tare, Panda Bear and Geologist crashed, slammed and shouted through bouncing "Merriweather" tracks like "Summer Clothes" and "My Girls." 

The band was a sound tornado, whipping seemingly rhythm-less chunks of noise into songs, eventually developing a pattern that you could almost call song structure. Each song contained a series of peaks, multiple exciting moments that came over and over again rather than just a few high point choruses -- Animal Collective's unique brand of generosity.

Earlier days were represented by "Slippi" from "Here Comes the Indian," which melted into "Leaf House" from "Sung Tongs." The show also ended cheekily with a Panda Bear song, "Comfy in Nautica" from his solo album "Person Pitch."

What was stranger than the mix of people types was the amazing amount of trust the crowd seemed to have in the band. Many eyes were closed -- listeners had so much faith in the course the music would take that they didn't feel the need to keep their eyes on the band, preferring to allow themselves to feel the music as it surged off the stage.

This emphasized something about Animal Collective that is widely overlooked since their eccentricities are so often alienating: their music has an underlying sense of kindness and wonder that makes it innocent in intent and endlessly listenable at its core. While other musicians amid the genre-mashing avant garde scene aim to terrify and unnerve their audiences, Animal Collective aims only to infuse their listeners with their same sense of vitality.

-- Lavinia Jones Wright


It's been awhile since we attended a certified Indie Rock Event(tm) at New York's Bowery Ballroom; you know, the kind where it seems like the entire local music scene is packed in there along with all the scenesters and press, and when the line to retrieve your items from the coat check actually stretches back up into the performance space?

And so it was last night for Animal Collective, the experimental trio whose new album, "Merriweather Post Pavilion," has been met with as much drooling praise from the usual blog suspects as it has mainstream media (hello, full-page spread in the New York Times!).

We were prepared to be disappointed, having seen this band twice before in outdoor settings, where its swirly songs and skittish beats floated too easily into the atmosphere. But it was quite a different story last night, as the Bowery's crystalline sound system brought out every wacked-out nuance in the material with uncommon power.

Theirs is, quite simply, music in a world of its own. Often the songs are moving forward completely free of the constraints of metronomic time. Often the two singing members (Avey Tare and Panda Bear) are just jamming with their voices in a style that brings to mind (ducking) Phish. Every now and then the parts congeal into something resembling a hook ("My Girls," "Summer Clothes"), but the journey to that point has been so strange that it takes extra time for them to sink in.

Then there's the sound itself. Geologist's beats are juicy, jolly and crushing. The samples are plenty quirky but well-chosen; at one point they were rocking a two-note symphonic pattern that was being battered from left to right by huge beats. The concept that kept kicking around in our brains was a Beach Boys/Bjork mash-up performed by 30th century beings and then beamed back into the present.

What sells it all is the unbridled enthusiasm. Animal Collective seems a little scary before you've spent some time with them, but they're actually quite benevolent, almost childlike. They don't want to mess with you; they want to help you have a good time.

To wit, one friend who never indulges in mind-expansion said she'd be quite comfortable changing her policy the next time the Collective rolls into town. And thus, Animal Collective wins, converting able bodies to their merry prankster ways one kooky gig at a time.

-- Jonathan Cohen

January 22, 2009 | Permalink


TrackBack URL for this entry:

Listed below are links to weblogs that reference A Tale Of Two Animal Collectives:


The comments to this entry are closed.

© 2010 Billboard. All rights reserved.
Terms Of Use and Privacy Policy.