Animal Collective live at The Winter Garden

Eastbourne
16th May 2011

Animal Collective at the Winter Garden 2011Despite recently releasing their two most accessible albums to date in Strawberry Jam and Merriweather Post Pavilion, Animal Collective continue to break away from common ground. This is reinforced by tonight’s performance at the Winter Garden, an usual concert venue in sleepy Eastbourne. Support tonight comes from (Angel) Deradoorian of the Dirty Projectors and Western Saharans Group Doeuh.

Led by guitarist Salmou Baamar, Group Doeuh are a family consisting of singer Halima Jakani (Baamar’s wife) and keyboardist Jamaal (Baamar’s son). Their Mauritanian roots partnered with Western rock influences provide a refreshing supporting act. Salmou Baamar’s homages to James Brown and Jimi Hendrix are evident as he excites with complex and acrobatic electric guitar playing.

Entering the stage to a foray of electronic loops and colourful visualisations, Animal Collective introduce themselves with two new songs that are filled with hazy vocals. ‘Change’ and ‘Stop Thinking’ maintain the Western African feel from Group Doueh’s performance, combined with Can and Faust influences. The recognisable ‘Did You See the World?’ is next from 2005 album Feels. This is one of the last songs from the band’s varied catalogue to be performed this evening and is well appreciated.

Deakin’s dramatic synthesiser and Panda Bear’s flickery samples lead into ‘Take This Weight’ and puts the band firmly in progressive territory. The fun and friendly Merriweather Post Pavilion track ‘Brother Sport’ is echoed and savoured by the East Sussex crowd. New songs ‘Mercury’ and ‘Frights’ are testing and are a challenge for people accustomed to the band’s more accessible material from circa 2007 onwards.

An energetic rendition of ‘We Tigers’ from the breakthrough 2004 album Sung Tongs is filled with the tribe-like screams and ritual dance imagery that we’ve grown to love from the Baltimore four-piece. Arguably one of the band’s most famous songs ‘Summertime Clothes’ suitably follows. The crowd gradually evolves into a cheerful dancing parade. Certainly the highlight of the evening.

The final songs after the encore, ‘I’d Rather’ and ‘Little Kid’, are droning affairs however and there are some signs of disappointment with the omission of many favourites such as ‘My Girls’, ‘In the Flowers’ and ‘Fireworks’. Tonight’s set is almost identical to the band’s set at their curated ATP festival event in Minehead. Filled with their most experimental songs yet, this is certainly not an evening for the passive Animal Collective fan.

Words and Photo: Alex Penge