Hollywood Bowl, Los Angeles
Sept. 23, 2012
The best thing about the Animal Collective that we've come to know and love is that listeners never knew, really, how the band was producing their dense layers of sound. Was that synth hook a loop or live? Was that beat computer generated or was it Panda Bear kicking on the bass drum? Was that a vocal tic or a note compressed through a mic?
While this was true for 2009's groundbreaking Merriweather Post Pavilion and the rest of the band's later catalog, Animal Collective switched it up on this year's Centipede Hz, going back to a more straightforward, gritty rock sound that they toyed around with in their early work. Gone were the layers and layers of vocals, so you didn't know if it was a delay or another voice echoing the words. Samplers were put on hold for guitars riffs and keyboard hooks, and that ethereal, sly-pop hook? Replaced with frenetic arrangements that made you just want to dance.
Last night the band made up for the lack of aural psychedelia by presenting a fantastic stage show. Their set, for one, has progressed to an Alice-in-Wonderland fairytale -- massive teeth framed the stage and lit up to the music, with giant conch-like structures twisted high above the band (one of them even fell down in the middle of the set, eliciting cheers from the crowd when it was righted). The light show was also fantastically beautiful, with the Hollywood Bowl as the perfect stage: its cocentric arches kept time in technicolor bizarroness, which kind of took away from the fact that aside from Geologist's bobbing headlamp, there wasn't really much to watch in the band.
Still, everyone was there to listen to music that made their brains loopy, and by the middle of "Lion in a Coma" everyone was writhing in their seats. Once I saw glow sticks thrown into the air (like a Phish show!), it was over. Everyone leapt to their feet and stayed up, amped by Merriweather Post Pavilion standouts such as "Brother Sport," until the band left the stage after "My Girls."
The big finish made for an anticlimactic encore. (If anything, the show was too short, which was a shame considering Animal Collective's vast catalog). But playing the last two songs from Centipede Hz's track list as the encore seemed like a commitment to the new album. It was as if the band was saying: "Yes, we understand that everyone loved Merriweather, but we'll leave you to ponder on our latest release on your way out."
Personal Bias: I am partial to mind-alteration in all forms.
Overheard in the Crowd: "Turn up the vibes! It's too chill!"
Random Notebook Dump: Every dude in the crowd looked like they were members of Animal Collective.
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Lion in a Coma
New Town Burnout