September 18, 2012
Seeing Animal Collective in person is simultaneously satisfying and frustrating. Their live setup is one of>"/>
Animal Collective Paramount Theatre September 18, 2012
September 18, 2012
Seeing Animal Collective in person is simultaneously satisfying and frustrating. Their live setup is one of the most interesting out there, bridging the gap between analog and digital, with one member, Geologist, essentially DJing as the group's off-kilter pop songs unexpectedly coalesce from an ether of droning noise and warped samples. But sometimes they can be willfully obtuse, allowing the inter-song ambiance and experimentation to dominate their set. This last point stems from when I saw the group at Sasquatch! three years ago--at the height of the Merriweather Post Pavilion hype--and they delivered 45 interminable, underwhelming minutes of drone music in the 95-degree heat.
*See also: Photo slideshow of Tuesday's show
Luckily, their show at the Paramount last night was Animal Collective at its best: danceable and energetic, with just enough unexpectedness to keep you off guard. In the spirit of making horrible food metaphors about this band, it was like going to a traditional Chinese buffet: satisfying, but with a few strange items thrown in that you wouldn't recognize.
One of the more striking aspects of the band's performance was the disparity between its two most prominent members, Avey Tare and Panda Bear (who will henceforth be referred to as David Portner and Noah Lennox, respectively, since we're all adults here). The majority of the songs on the recently released, not-nearly-as-bad-as-you've-heard-it-is Centipede Hz--especially the good ones--feature Portner on lead vocals, and that was also the case last night. Lennox, obscured behind a drum set at the back of the stage, sang lead on only three of the group's 15 songs.
But two of the songs he did sing, "My Girls" and "Brother Sport," were clear highlights, practically by reputation alone. The latter was the best of the night, milking an extended mid-song buildup that sounded massive and surprisingly trance-y live. With the return of Deakin, the group's fourth member who was absent during the recording of MPP and its subsequent tour, Animal Collective looks much more like a traditional band they did before. It's a configuration that worked well for some of Centipede Hz's heavier numbers like "Moonjock" and single "Today's Supernatural."
As for the aforementioned unexpectedness: "Also Frightened," an average song from Merriweather Post Pavilion, made for an unusual show opener, and "Amanita," while one of the better tracks from Centipede Hz, fell a bit flat as a closer. AnCo also threw in "Cobwebs," a deep cut from 2008's Water Curses EP, to open its encore. But despite these strange choices and a heavy reliance on the good but not great material from Centipede Hz, Animal Collective delivered the goods.
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