Since their inception, Animal Collective have blown listeners' ears away by expanding on their anomalous sound with their heavy use of synthesizers, vocal harmonies, poppy melodies and disregard for guitar (as of their latest album, Painting With). Their eccentricity not only intrigues listeners, but also draws them in through having no expectation of what comes next. It's the kind of music that would seriously confuse your parents and grandparents.
One concept that has remained consistent throughout the entity that is Animal Collective is expressing themselves in an incredibly abstract fashion. And it was apparent at their show at The Observatory in Santa Ana last night. The visual setup was nothing short of captivating. On stage were three large figures of faces behind Avey Tare (David Portner), Panda Bear (Noah Lennox), Geologist (Brian Weitz) and touring drummer, Jeremy Hyman, that reminded me very much of Picasso's portraits. There were decorative hamsas, eyes and scissors hung from the ceiling. Now, imagine the psychedelic colored lights shining on all those and already mesmerizing projections to create something straight out of the abstract expressionism movement…Voila, you've got yourself an acid trip. The wild, dancing colors brought the same sides out of fans. The visual aesthetic accompanied the music perfectly and surely enhanced the experience of seeing Animal Collective altogether.
The Observatory was packed and remained packed the entire time. As AnCo came on, about six people in banana costumes showed up in a line and entered the pit dancing. They soon became fan favorites. It's too bad none of them did the splits though…Although, they were not afraid to surf the crowd. Really though, who doesn't love a good banana costume?
AnCo kicked off their set with “Hounds of Bairro” that immediately got fans off their feet. A few people in the crowd took interest in Geologist wearing a head lamp. To someone who has never seen AnCo or doesn't know their names, it may have seemed like a very questionable yet functional fashion statement. About three songs in when “Golden Gal” played, people passed their lit joints throughout the crowd. If there was a show to get high as a kite at, this was definitely it. Soon enough, the whole venue reeked of ganja, cheap beer and vape juice. Sober or not, the entire crowd appeared as though they were in a trance. Fans were completely engulfed in the energy and presence that were presented to them right before their very eyes and ears. Some danced the night away, while others held their phones (or PBRs) high.
It was evident that the fan favorites were Merriweather Post Pavilion tracks “Daily Routine,” “Guys Eyes,” and “Summertime Clothes” seeing how the majority of the crowd was either dancing, singing along, crowd surfing or clapping during the entirety of those songs. A bunch of teenagers even started a circle pit. Many songs featured on the set list were released recently, which is probably something fans of their earlier material were not expecting. Regardless, the set list was lively and fun. AnCo wrapped up their set with “Summertime Clothes” and thanked the fans before walking off stage.
The crowd instantaneously started chanting “One more song!” despite the lights getting turned off. It didn't take long until Animal Collective returned to the stage, where they thanked fans yet again. Avey Tare started with “I don't want to get sentimental on stage” and proceeded to tell fans how their friend and sound technician, Chris Freeman, joined them on tour 12 years ago and how it was his birthday. The crowd sang “Happy Birthday” and afterwards, Tare introduced the first song of their encore with, “Speaking of 12 years ago, this is an old one.”A member of the crowd shouted, “you guys are fucking sick!” before they began their encore while another suggested that they just play all night.
Fans were rewarded with “Kids On Holiday,” which was clearly an emotionally striking song. One fan put his face in his hands and reached his arms outward towards the stage and another fan sang every lyric with a great amount of passion while pointing at AnCo with his friend. The drums leading into “Gnip Gnop” kept fans on their feet. Just when we thought things couldn't get any rowdier, Animal Collective ended the night with fan favorite “FloriDada” before exiting the stage.