Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Animal Collective @ The Fox Theater, Oakland - May 26, 2009

The Fox Theater itself was a considerable star last night. Absolutely gorgeous venue which combines aspects of other grandiose bay area palaces like the Paramount Theater with an Islamic and Moorish inspired grandeur all it's own that doesn't stick to any architectural traditions, but otherworldly. Such an amazing space to experience music. However, the jury is still out regarding the sound. Was it AC's penchant for dsp caverns of mud and disorientation? Or perhaps the acoustics aren't fully optimized? The venue has only been reopened for a few months, stay tuned.

The buzz in the air for Animal Collective was considerable during the opener Grouper's set. She seems very early on in her musical journey. Her ambient, lo-fi with layers of looped vocals and guitar melodies is pleasant enough, but has light years to go before feeling right for a support slot like this one. For the time being, Grouper would be better suited to support slots for very small clubs or instore performances like the one we caught at Aquarius Records last month. Digital distortion is rarely if ever pleasant. Is it possible that a new generation of audio dilettantes may not hear the difference?

When a white orb was lowered above the stage, it was nearly show time for the veterans. Animal Collective's current stage setup is more spare than ever. Gone are the dual strummed guitars and acid howling through digitech processors punctuated by floor tom freakouts. Tonight the three current animals are manning samplers, mixers and keyboards on white draped tables with lights projected on them. Occasionally Panda Bear would remind us of what a fantastic drummer he is while Avey Tare's manic energy would keep the crowd focused on the massive sounds on offer. The whole visual scene with the venue's glowing eyed idols on either side of the stage and the Floyd'esque projections on the floating orb made for a stunning psychedelic environment.

Ghost rave pop is the main order of the evening. Eight albums and years of improvising on stage have fine tuned the AC vibrations to an acute window of ecstasy. There was an enormous sense of community amongst at least 1/4 of the audience. The remainder of the audience weren't sure exactly why they were there, but this speaks to the power of the media approval and recommendation matrix. Puzzled faces were preparing to "say they were there." Fair enough, we have all been enriched. Everyone wins in this musical village.

This band is now clearly in the major leagues, despite their devoted relationship to their more outre tendencies and refusal to engage on a direct pop star-to-fan level like others at their stage in the game. It's refreshing to see a band sticking to their roots and remaining true to their grain. The new songs are also sounding good and perhaps another progressive direction is in the works. The beauty of AC is in their live reinterpretation of their back catalog and the works in progress feel of new and developing tunes. Animal Collective perform tonight in Big Sur at the Henry Miller Library and we are tempted to go and do it all over again!

The "Summertime Clothes" single is due out on June 22 in the U.K. and July 7 in the U.S.
Domino is currently giving away the Dam Funk remix of "Summertime Clothes." Check it!

Simon Bananaspam

Click for mp3 - "Bleed" (Live)

1 comment:

Ken Hefferson said...

amazing and delightful concert feels good to find such tasteful setting for shared psychedelic experience