Attractive day in the rubble of the night from before

Photo by the inimitable Loreana Rushe, link later on in red.

Photo by the inimitable Loreana Rushe, link later on in red.

Talking to someone I hadn’t met in a few years before going in to catch the start of Dent May’s Animal Collective support slot, I had a moment of very mild epiphany. ‘This should be good’, I said. ‘Yeah’, my friend replied. Standard enough so far. ‘Have you seen them before?” I asked, trying to feel out the level of depth I’d be able to go into with my pre-gig hopes and wishes. ‘No, but I’m looking forward to this. Have you?’ ‘Yeah, it’s my fifth time,’ I said with all the pride of a Dead Head in the 70s telling a first-timer that he remembers back when Jerry Garcia’s eyes were actually capable of focusing on anything in the physical realm.

It gets obscured because I’m friends with a lot of people who’ve seen them as many times and more, but that is a bit weird, isn’t it? Or is it? I didn’t notice until after the gig when I started seeing reviews (or actual live-from-the-event Twitter posts) which claimed that there was “something missing”.

I didn’t see it. Or more accurately, I suppose, I didn’t not see it.

Maybe by seeing Animal Collective a few times in the past, I’ve become accustomed to the things that might be disappointing. The band don’t really engage with the specific setting they’re in, beyond saying “thanks!” – learned this at Oxegen 2006 on the Feels tour when they were still a four-piece. They spend a lot of time improvising, doing reworkings of songs or playing new songs – learned this at Oxegen and again at Tripod. Sometimes the sound-play can just sound like mush, and I’m convinced that they sync samples wrong sometimes too. It seems like Geologist doesn’t do anything. They don’t really play ‘Peacebone’.

BUT

This is the best band in the world, bar none. And once you’re not expecting to see the Kaiser Chiefs, I can’t see how seeing them could possibly be a bad thing. Friday night was the best experience I’ve had with them so far.

Took up a position about fifteen people back, on Panda Bear’s side, to see what it’s like to go to a gig and NOT worry about being jostled out of your forward location by some self-satisfied goons who assume that they’re the only people who want to be at the front. Stopped worrying about what was coming next. Didn’t have the third pint that makes the wee impossible to hold. And just stood there and got lost in the sound.

Link below because html is confusing the fuck out of me.

Link below because html is confusing the fuck out of me.

((go check out the full set of photos at My Left Ventricle, they probably give a better sense of what it was like than any of the reviews including this one.))

Weird weird ‘Winter’s Love’ was first, and it made as little sense as it did in London, except that the actually sample of ‘Winter’s Love’ that plays halfway through was twice as long. But then we got to the meat of the affair – ‘Also Frightened’, ‘My Girls’, ‘Summertime Clothes’, ‘Guys Eyes’, ‘Daily Routine’. Merriweather Post Pavillion, like a (psychedelic) debutante parading in the unabashed glow of youth and universal acclaim. Some of this stuff really is unparalleled.

‘Summertime Clothes’ released the tensile energy in the (clearly Merriweather [fair-weather?] heavy) crowd by converting it to kinesis. ‘Guys Eyes’ was chaotic genius, taking the let’s-just-both-sing-a-song-at-the-same-time approach to its outer extremes. The outro to ‘Daily Routine’ repeated long after the crowd was willing to humour it, until the words became nothing and the repetition in itself became the hypnotic point.

What else? A version of ‘Fireworks-Essplode’ which wasn’t ‘Fireworks-Essplode’ at all, but ‘Fireworks-Lablakey Dress’, possibly improving on the impossibly brilliant live ‘Fireworks’ of the Whelans gig last May by adding about four minutes of will-he-won’t-he guitar loops before the second section kicks back in.

A ‘Leaf House’ which made at least some sort of sense. A ‘Slippi’ which I will admit felt the absence of the rainbow strip lights keenly – the projector ball was trippy, but you need rainbow strobes for certain moments, and that was one. But then ‘Brother Sport’, which is the uncle of all songs, and which I would be happy to listen to on repeat for the rest of eternity.

I thought the gig was a tiny bit better than the London gig I saw in January, just because there was so little chaff. There really wasn’t any more than cursory sonic messing-about. The set-list was nearly as good as could be hoped for, barring a pro wrestling-esque return of Deakin through the crowd to assist with ‘Purple Bottle’, ‘Who Could Win A Rabbit?’ and ‘We Tigers’. The slight anti-climax of ‘In The Flowers’ live was avoided by avoiding ‘In The Flowers’.

This was as good an Animal Collective gig as you could expect to see. Something which either eludes people or doesn’t convince them is that Animal Collective are just three guys who fuck around with samples and try to have fun with their sounds in a live setting. Nothing changed when the audience multiplied beyond recognition. Nobody really ever looks up from what they’re doing, but that’s because they’re in the music, and that’s something that makes it even more appealing. Because at an Animal Collective gig, you’re not being played to, you’re attending something which will be in its own way slightly unique, and by being there, you’re part of the music. As pretentious as that sounds, I do actually believe it.

Of course, in terms of sampler-gazing improv, it was nothing on the last Tripod gig. For length of set it didn’t compete with London. For intimacy-via-proximity, it wasn’t a patch on Whelans. For a knock-you-sideways stunning performance of ‘We Tigers’, it wasn’t a match for Oxegen. But on the whole… best yet, I think.

+++

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4 responses to “Attractive day in the rubble of the night from before

  1. Hear hear Karl. Good review. Much (not all) of the grumbling is hard to fathom. I wish more of the pogoing kids up front wrote blogs. I’d like to read about it from one of their perspectives.

    I think that the general explosion of opinion on this one is gonna quickly boil down to whether or not some people’s brains contain the dance molecule or synapse or whatever it is that allows them to get caught up in the heavy bass and accept that three guys on stage don’t have to be constantly obviously doing something showy to have soul, or realness or whatever it is they seem to miss.
    A lot of indie fans will lap up an electronic element in their fave bands as long as it is tacked on obviously to the pre-existing drums/guitar/bass set-up. Now that the boys have quite obviously let those tethers slip, and are beginning to look (and sound) more like Orbital with every passing gig, we’ll be hearing plenty more criticisms in future.
    I can see why the gig might not have been to everybody’s taste, but to call it a disaster as one or two reports have said, feels well wide of the mark. I love to see a crowd enjoy itself, and the crowd in Tripod seemed to be totally wrapped up in most of it.
    Good review. And I’m happy I went to this.

  2. Yeah, and the negative reviews sort of make the positive reviews seem very reactionary, and I don’t think they’re meant to be for the most part. I was genuinely surprised to hear that people didn’t like it.

    Your Heraclitus analogy has actually stuck with me, by the way, even though I had no previous idea who Heraclitus was. The word “flux” kept popping up in my head when I was listening to Water Curses for some reason, but now that thing about different waters was all I could think about listening to MPP on the bus today.

  3. Nice review. I struggled through a review for drop-d last night as I still try to get it all right in my head but I know I had a good time and I know I love the sounds of old skool rave. I also love Animal Collective so all’s good. How you finding wordpress? I’ve been toying with the change but am unsure of the advantages of ditching blogger.

  4. I’ve no particular like or dislike for AC, so I’ve no dog in the fight.
    Darragh’s comment above that opinion is going to “boil down to whether or not some people’s brains contain the dance molecule or synapse” etc is interesting. what about the reverse situation, say an super-popular electro band that went proper indie rock? I was thinking, what if Dan Deacon started putting on a leather jacket and playing guitar at his gigs, but then I realised that would be awesome.

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