Merriweather Gig Pavillion
Tweet 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.