An Animal Collective show is a task in mental digestion. Even now, sitting here trying to materialize my experience into convenient lines of text, I’m really dumbfounded, even guilt-ridden, that I have to label this show, dress it up in flowery adjectives, and analyze the shit out of it instead of letting you just see it bare and naked for exactly what it was. [Text by Andre, photos by Mike.]
But, that’s what you get for missing out, so bear with me here.
This sold-out show at the Beacham Theatre in Downtown Orlando was Animal Collective’s first appearance in the Florida’s midsection since a sold-out State Theatre performance back in 2009. Last time they were touring in support of their acclaimed LP, Merriweather Post Pavillion. This time, they were supporting, well, nothing really, which lent itself to a whole hour and 20 minutes of some totally out-there shit, to be eloquently frank.
As a band with a vigilant knack for paving new trails, shedding its skin every few years in the name of constant evolution, A.C. make no apologies for doing, and creating exactly what they want in a live setting. Sure, their last two albums, Strawberry Jam and MPP are their most structured and accessible to date. A slew of cuts from both would’ve made for an easily satisfying show, but the future, what hasn’t been created yet, seems to be the ultimate muse for this band at this juncture.
The set time was taken up with a majority of new, unreleased material speckled with a just a few classics to keep your mind from going too far down the proverbial rabbit hole. The new material as a whole is a pastiche of found sounds — distorted crunches, bleeps, bloops, swells, and roars — classically tribal and a tad unhinged like we’ve come to expect, but somehow more experimental and, for lack of a better word, weirder than ever before.
Avey Tare’s vocal gymnastics over these textures and rhythms worked as a beacon of familiarity through some frustratingly intricate passages in the new tracks, while the addition of two guitars and live drums by Panda Bear hinted at a more naturalistic, jam banded direction in the foursome’s future; but really, who knows?
This is a band with tendencies largely admirable in principle, but oftentimes difficult when it comes to guessing which cat they’ll pull out of the bag next. Sometimes it’s ugly, disjointed, sounding nothing you ever thought popular music could, or maybe even should, be, but it’s there, existing in all its odd glory.
You wonder how far off the deep end can this band go before the majority just put their hands up and throw in the towel? It’s kind of interesting; like they’re a barometer of just how much weird and convention-breaking we’ll accept when it comes to popular music. Maybe it’s best to just revel in a dysfunctional, never-dull relationship with this weird band of postmodern troubadours and see how it all pans out. At least you know the ride will be fun.