music By the end of Animal Collective’s performance at the Satellite Ballroom on May 30th, the condensation on the room’s air ducts was dripping onto the audience like a refreshing indoor rain shower—a telling sign of the group’s typical live experience. Animal Collective saturated the evening in almost every way. They easily filled the Ballroom to capacity, and fans were still lined up into the parking lot until just before they took the stage. Enthusiasm was rampant and infectious: Impromptu handclap ensembles popped up around the room before the music had begun. The crowd was so excited that they even greeted the contemplative, raga-style guitar of opener Sir Richard Bishop with stomps, hoots and hollers.
Stampede! The critic-pleasing critters of Animal Collective brought a packed Satellite Ballroom to ecstatic heights on Wednesday night.
The most astounding aspect of the night’s atmosphere, however, was the sound that emerged once Avey Tare, The Geologist and Panda Bear tweaked some knobs, pushed some buttons and began their set. The three members have a way of using mostly electronic instruments and effects to create organic, liquid songs. Drenched in echo and reverb, Animal Collective’s vocal melodies sounded like they were sung in a gigantic metal storm drain. The rhythms that pulsed from multiple drum machines and other digital gadgets were part tribal cadence, part acid trip. When all of the parts came together, they collided in a disorienting but beautiful mess of shifting tones and textures that resembled a musical Niagara Falls.
The already energized Ballroom became even more frenzied as the group spun their simple loops and yelps into gigantic surges of sound, and the crowd contributed passionate choral accompaniment during familiar songs such as “Who Could Win A Rabbit” and “Leaf House.” Animal Collective, not a group prone to precise replication, injected their album songs with updated orchestration and improvisational twists. Their new songs, from the upcoming album Strawberry Jam, proved that they have continued to hone their unique brand of psychedelic animal pop. The material they unveiled draws from members’ recent solo endeavors, including Panda Bear’s Brian Wilson-esque Person Pitch and Avey Tare’s experimental Pullhair Rubeye.
The set came to a resounding end and, despite the crowd’s rabid desire for more, the animals did not return for an encore. This made perfect sense, as the Animal Collective experience, like a mighty waterfall, cannot stop and start, but must unfold as one gushing, epic event.