Animal CollectiveEdit this event
Where to begin with Animal Collective? In a word, they’re brilliant. The blissed-out Baltimore four-piece offer a kind of inverted prog with the emphasis on unfettered creativity rather than musicianship. Surprising, then, that as this evening’s festivities roll around to the main attraction, they more accurately resemble a flailing Beastie Boys circa 1986, what with their jauntily-angled baseball caps and garish get-ups. Alas, if only their set was so exuberant.
With a performance heavy on material from their fine-sounding new LP Strawberry Jam (due in September), it’s difficult to pinpoint exactly where the band goes wrong. You could point to the absence of Deakin, but it’s more than that. I want them to make me feel like an excitable toddler pissing in the paddling pool, but I end up keeping a bored eye on the time for the last tube home. Songs drift non-commitally into each other, but where Noah Lennox's recent performances as Panda Bear have been a delirious deluge of tracks rolling into each other and out again, this evening it all seems to chug along a little too contentedly, even when the Lennox tracks get an airing.
Once in a while their abstracted pastoralism sends you tumbling through the void, like a startled animal falling through some leaf trap of the mind, but you could count these moments on one hand, even if you happen to be a Simpsons character. Of course, repetition is absolutely key to their schtick and would need to be a central feature of any of their live performances, but a little more goodwill is required than this, and if you’re going to construct a sound based on looping material the you’d better make sure you’ve got something worth looping in the first place.
At their best, Animal Collective are peerless innovators, making euphoric, circular music where others trade in clunking angles and chugging, linear progressions. Tonight, they’re merely solipsistic.
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