Animal Collective, Avalon, September 5, 2007
It was both tiresome and tiring to watch and listen to the three members of the Brooklyn avant-art-folk group Animal Collective indulge their penchant for tribal electronics on stage at Avalon a week ago Wednesday. The trick, I suppose, was to discover the magic beneath the mayhem, the daring in the discord, the hooks amid the hype that all but filled Avalon with fans — a large number of whom appeared transfixed by the industrial rhythms, the tom-tom pounding, and the vocal yelps. But to judge by the blank look on the faces of the dozen or so paying customers who’d taken refuge from the noisy assault in a comfortable alcove at the back of the room, I wasn’t the only one left nonplussed by the seemingly random ebb and flow of pounding grooves and ambient textures.
ANIMAL COLLECTIVE: Furry suits might have helped.
Animal Collective are the kind of band — difficult, challenging, mysterious — that adventurous musos like myself are supposed to celebrate. And the band’s new Strawberry Jam (Domino) does succeed in its fusions of art folk, psychedelia, and electronica. Which only made the Avalon show that much more frustrating. Perhaps the absence of one member threw off the Collective interplay. (Geologist, a/k/a Brian Weitz, with his lighted visor, was there along with Avey Tare and Panda Bear — a/k/a David Porter and Noah Lennox — but Conrad Deakon couldn’t make it). The fragile folk melodies that counterpoint the harsh electronic storms were dearly missed.
Maybe I was just expecting too much — furry suits or colorful masks rather than just T-shirts and jeans. The Day of the Dead skeletons that flanked the band were a colorful touch that underscored the occasional bouts of tribal drumming and (largely unintelligible) chants. But that wasn’t enough to offset the incessant, atonal rave-like loops that just kept coming in wave after abrasive wave.
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