A last minute change of venue from the Astoria to it’s smaller sibling, the Astoria 2, didn’t seem to affect the fans turning up to see Baltimore’s collection of animals, err, Animal Collective.
Having been a fan of previous albums ‘Feels’ and ‘Sung Tongs’, I felt a little dissapointed by their latest album ‘Strawberry Jam’, so I was desperately hoping that their live performance would be as bizarre and magical as the weird noises this group of people create on their records. The skeletons dressed as ballerinas at the side of the stage was a good start.
The band walked on; Avey Tare bouncing on in a kind of Hunchback of Notre Dame pose that he would hold for the rest of the night, and Geologist in his trademark miner’s headlamp and tie-dye tshirt, so the noise began. Animal Collective produce a sound that is very hard to describe. Half live samples and loops, half live instruments, they make music that kind of envelopes you and seeps into every part of your body. Not so much listening to the music, you feel it deep in your bones.
While this may be good (I’m a huge fan of bands that utilise this as part of their ‘show experience’), it does need something else to go with it. If your band consists of playing around with tiny boxes full of electronics and buttons, then a something else visual should be there, like an amazing light show.
Unfortunately, despite Tare’s efforts moving around the stage, dancing like a cross between Bez and Ian Brown, and impressive vocal range from Marc Bolan’s airy wailings, to visceral screeches usually employed by The Locust, there was nothing else there that excited me and kept me interested.
Maybe the venue change didn’t help, which numbed the potential that Animal Collective have, but I really expected more from them. Don’t get me wrong, they were incredibly technical, professional, and played so tight it could have been the record playing, but there just wasn’t that butterfly-stomach, tingly-neck feeling that bands like them should give you when they create music this special.
My girlfriend describes watching them perfectly, so I’ll end with that. “They would be really good at the end of a festival, when you’re a bit out of it, lying on the grass and someone has soaked you in beer. Spilling beer on my chin just then helped a bit, but not enough.”