Monday, September 17, 2007

Black and beastly

I jiggled my schedule to be off work when Animal Collective was in town since I'm so fond of their avant-garde harmony pop weirdness. Also it was a chance to visit my old high school stomping ground. Eric Copeland, formerly of Black Dice, opened the show. The two outfits have an intertwining history. Animal Collective's first U.S. tour was with Black Dice and AC's label Paw Tracks is releasing their new record along with Copeland's Hermaphrodite. Copeland uses loops to create a monolithic rhythm, often at crushing volume. Grinding squawks and hammering breath noises were laid over Copeland’s indecipherable utterances, and while he performed a steady trickle of show-goers could be seen heading back to the lobby for relief from his slurred industrial lullabies. I overheard someone say the bass made his nose bleed.

Knob-twisting action!

Shadowy action!

During the intermission a man dressed as a puffin handed out promo cards for another show. Then it was time for Animal Collective. They're on the fringes of pop, where The Flaming Lips used to be before they became inexplicably popular (I love 'em, but never thought they'd hit it big). They are one of the few bands that are neither aimed at the teen pop market nor KISS likely to attract fans in facepaint.

Avey mans the keys while Panda makes an adjustment.

Geologist is ready to mine.

The whole lot, plus coloured lights!

More Bear.

Some of their rhythms had me thinking of disco and afrobeat – after a half-hour the sitters were up and dancing, much to the inconvenience of the folks who remained in their front row seats. Avey Tare jumped off stage to dance along, and you can just make out his striped shirt in this photo to the right of the blurry clapping hands.

Even more Bear! Plus one of the band's two taffeta-clad skeletons.

Singalong action!

Although the venue wasn't ideal – this is not a band to be enjoyed sitting down – and their accompanying light show veered between the unnecessary and annoying, there were still plenty of high points including Walk Around With You, their new single Peacebone, the even newer Material Things and a medley of Essplode and Fireworks. After the show I leapt on my bike and pedalled off to Irene's for another show.

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