3/28/09

Merriweather Gig Pavillion

Animal Collective are the musical embodiment of the beardy proto-Plato philosopher Heraclitus's doctrine that constant change is the central force in the universe. As he put it, you can never step in the same river twice because other waters will always run over your toes. Keep this in in ancient adage mind when you go to an Animal Collective gig. You're less likely to be disappointed than the vexed sod standing beside me in Tripod last night who spent the encore roaring and spluttering about the lack of material from their 2005 album, Feels. Photo by Lolo In fairness, anyone looking for a substantial live manifestation of any of the band's previous incarnations last night would have come away unhappy. Especially considering that one of the only recognizable - in my case - nods to pre-Strawberry Jam material was an overegged rendition of Leaf House which collapsed under the weight of the gratuitous reverb added to Panda Bear's yodelling vocals and the dubby, slow motion re-reading of the song's original sprightly guitars. It was hard to reconcile it with the bewitching avant-folk original on Sung Tongs. Indeed, it was hard to reconcile last night's band with the group that wrote Sung Tongs. Animal Collective are resolutely about change, and, increasingly, resolutely about dance music. The band's - and particularly Noah Lennox's - well documented infatuation with dance music was in full demonstration in Tripod. In a set that bulged with cuts from Merriweather Post Pavillion, the bass sounds often hit a poop-loosening, sub-woofer throb that wouldn't sound out of place at a Modeselektor gig. All the dancey aspects of Merriweather were exaggerated. The distended housey pianos towards the end of Daily Routine became more overtly rhythmic and seemed to go on for ever as Lennox's cathartic hollers cut in over them. The new light show pulsed and flashed like the band were playing inside a massive graphic equalizer, while coruscating computer visuals intermittently crawled over the new psychedelic beach ball prop that hung over them. Watching all this from where I stood near the mixing desk was exhilarating, and the outbreaks of frenzied dancing toward the front of the crowd - particularly during an awesome Brothersport - ensured the gig felt nothing short of a rave by times. Needless to say, I loved it. But I'm a fair weather raver and that sort of shit is catnip to me. I can see how others like Ian might have come away disappointed. As a seasoned follower of this forward-thinking band, I came with high expectations for new material. One song delivered the goods. It is called "what would I want sky" and it is built from trip hop percussion, a deeply psychedelic Avey Tare melody and finally, gliding female vocal samples reminiscent of the Field. Guess what? There's already a session recording of it. Check it out! MP3: Animal Collective-What would I want Sky If this is an indication of Animal Collective's future direction it looks like they are drifting off into a pastoral electronic wonderland. Alhough knowing them, the next album will be doom metal. Update: If the MP3 wasn't working earlier, it should now. I've changed the link to mediafire.

12 comments:

Anonymous said...

"the only nod to pre-Strawberry Jam material was an overegged rendition of Leaf House"

The opening song was a reworked version of Winter's Love from Sung Tongs, the first part of Fireworks was actually Lablakey Dress from Danse, and second last song of the night was Slippi from HCTI. Just to get the facts straight!

Gardenhead said...

thanks for the corrections. Wow, that reworking of winters love was eh, quite the reworking, cos it went completely past me.
Anyway I corrected the text to acknowledge these facts.

Anonymous said...

Personally I think they've come close to ruining it completely. It's most appealing aspect, for me at least, was it simple acoustic nature.

Gardenhead said...

Agreed. I've just listened to a download of that reworked version to see how it went past me, and I really don't like it. The new stuff is composed to sound big and electronic. Trying to force the older material into those sort of shapes is an exercise in failure. It would have been better off left alone.

Ian said...

Disappointed doesn't even begin to cover it.

LoLo said...

I don't think I was dissapointed with last night in term of performance. It was the sound that bothered me the most because I was so close to the left speaker I kept noticing crackling and feedback that was not meant to be there and caught my ears wrong. Tripod sucks.

Karl said...

I thought the gig was great, as I've said at length in Ian's comments section, in real life and on my blog (not yet but soon!)

Winter's Love:

I think you have to be unsentimental about that sort of thing with AC - we went crazy when we heard the sample come in about halfway through in London because we thought the first part was just an intro to the song - but you have to treat it like a different song, just based on the tools of one of the best songs going.

Especially without Deakin, they're not going to do straight version of pre-Jam stuff very often, and to get Leaf House as straightforward as we did I thought was a bit of a treat.

aoife mc said...

I thought the gig overall was really good. I thought it was fairly weak at the start - there wasn't much punch in My Girls - it meandered a bit in the middle and then had a kick-ass ending.

I'm only a new fan really as Merriweather is the first album that has really grabbed me, much to the chagrin no doubt of real AC fans, who detest folks like me who have jumped on the bandwagon!!

Yes! I got to use the word 'chagrin' in a comment.

Great review x

Astonishing Sod-Ape said...

LoLo's right, Tripod sucks. On every level. Definitely the worst venue in Dublin. Hate it hate it hate it.

Gardenhead said...

Lolo-well that's what ya get for standing beside speaker stacks ;)

Karl-I'm not sentimental at all when it comes to this band, and would never come to an animal collective gig with any sort of expectations regarding the setlist. Just found the new versions of those songs tiresome, which is different to finding them sacrilegious or whatever.

Aoife-It is to my great chagrin that I find you jumping on this band wagon, for shame!

Ape-well at least there was a bit of air conditioning going this time around.

LoLo said...

Yeah well I had to shoot the gig and if I wasn't so damn claustro and small I would have stood down the back in the middle of the crowd with you!

STORKBOY said...

That new song could be as good a one as they ever did