Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Show Review: Animal Collective Live @ Prospect Park in Brooklyn 7/12/11

Last night I was fortunate enough to see Animal Collective live at Prospect Park in Brooklyn. I wish I could properly express to you everything I endured to earn this experience: countless hours waiting in the sweltering heat, horrible and thick cigarette and weed smoke and other products of unidentifiable combustion; dehydration and nonstop standing; minor hardships prolonged by an inexplicable hour-long delay of the opening act; the arduous attendance to a general admission concert on a hot July evening made for one of the most unpleasant and uncomfortable experiences I have ever felt in my life. It was so beyond worth it.

The doors opened at 5:30, and when one stepped over to the stage, they were greeted by the retro/disco/electronic sounds of DJs Beta & Hatch. I enjoyed what they played and their awkward dancing, but I can't say I liked that they didn't stop spinning until 7:30. I overheard a security guard telling someone, in regards to Black Dice's tardiness, "They are too high in the back to come out." And that seemed about right. I will be honest, I've heard very weird music, I mean I went to an Animal Collective concert, but I wasn't prepared for Black Dice at all. Their half-hour set was ultimately one long stream-of-barely-conscious trance piece that, 20 minutes into, made me realize that I had completely zoned out and didn't know what was going on anymore. A biased fan, the mere appearance of Avey, Panda, Geologist, and Deakin setting up their instruments as the stage was being set - fueled partially by the realization that my day-long hot ordeal was about to reach culmination - was enough to trigger an emotional response. Instantly all the hours of pain experienced prior vanished. It was wholly expected that the concert would be for road testing new material, and while it would have been nice to hear all songs off of their albums, it was so beyond worth it to hear the new songs. The first two songs were a little slow with Deakin apparently missing a transition, but once they started "Did You See the Words", everything just exploded into pure rainbows and perfection. Songs like "Take This Weight" and "Knock You Down" are bound to be future crowd favorites, and I can only hope that they put them on the next album. "Brother Sport" came out of absolutely nowhere and held enough pure beauty to reduce me to tears. Most of the crowd must've had this same thrill for everyone seemed to come together to shout "Open up your!", "MATT!", and "Support your brother!", and even better, during the part on the record where it sounds like it’s skipping, everyone was chanting in complete unison “WOO...WOO...WOO...” All the sound effects, atmospheric noises, and the character of this live rendition made it my favorite performance of the night. My favorite new song "Mercury" came right after "Brother Sport". It's clearly an Avey Tare song, but it contains so much forcefulness and heartwrenching vocals that you can't help but be affected by it. It's a song that reminds me why I love this band so much. They closed the set with the trippiest ever possible version of "We Tigers" you can imagine, with understandably very few people singing along, and then transitioned gloriously into "Summertime Clothes", the biggest crowd pleaser of all. It was a strangely perfect song to close with, for the night was just as the song describes: "The restlessness calls us, that I cannot hide / So much on my mind that it spills outside / Do you want to go stroll down the financial street? / Our clothes might get soaked, but the buildings sleep." I don't know. Truer words have never been more perfectly spoken in such a perfect context. Screams of uproarious joy overtook the venue when they came out to finish off with a three song encore. One of the songs sounded like Tomboy outtake, for it featured Panda on vocals with the same filtered dreamy guitar so prominent on his album. They completed this lovely night with "Taste", which came as a nice surprise. It was a much more slowed-down mellow version, allowing the crowd to savor the experience for just a few more minutes. It was the loveliest way to end the night.

This was a spectacular concert. The visuals, the sound, the set list. Just a few things kept the night from achieving total perfection: the aforementioned wait and the conditions but also while the set design was out of control stunning and perfect for the music, the large crystals really hurt a lot of people's views. If you were right up front, you're view of half the group was blocked, telling me that the set designer didn't fully consider the sight lines with the stage from that perspective. Based on pictures, however, if you were a little farther away, the sight lines worked out. Still, I will be seeing Animal Collective again. I feel so fortunate to have taken part in the band's ongoing development of their next album. The fact that I loved the show not knowing the majority of the songs should say everything.

"Welcome back Deaks!"-Multiple fans in the crowd
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Setlist:

Change
Let Go
Did You See The Words
A Long Time Ago
Take This Weight
Knock You Down
Brothersport
Mercury
Your Choice
Frights
We Tigers
Summertime Clothes

Encore
I'd Rather
Little Kid
Taste

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5 comments:

Anonymous said...

"One of the songs was a clear Tomboy outtake, for it featured Panda on vocals with the same filtered dreamy guitar so prominent on his album."

I'd Rather is absolutely not a Tomboy outtake. Noah's been asked that question over this tour and every time the answer is "no"

Anonymous said...

also, the "set designer" (Avey's sister Abby) completely considered the sight lines and the placement of everything was intentional. The band doesn't want you focusing on them; they want the audience to focus on the music and the atmosphere they create.

Double Hawk said...

I know the set designer is Abby, and she did a beautiful job, but I just feel kind of badly for those who couldn't see half the band. It worked out brilliantly if you weren't 3 feet away from the barrier.

They created a perfect atmosphere with the music and set, and it was clear they fulfilled that. It was just a small little thing I noticed and heard others pointing out. It, in all honesty, did not truly detract from the show.

And yeah, I got that. I know none of the songs are actually from Down There or Tomboy, but there are undeniable influences present. I apologize for not actually having a conversation with Noah or Dave to know this.

Double Hawk said...

Note: I made a few changes to express my opinion in a clearer manner.

phe1980 said...

wow look like a colorful place.