Animal Collective @ Webster Hall
I came into Webster Hall with a friend waiting for Animal Collective to start. We were there a little over an hour and 15 after the doors open, seemed like it should be about time for them to start.
After a beer or 2 we realized a band was already playing, it was some kind of weird electronic ambient music. I was wondering who the opening band was. I saw them set up 2 skeletons with prom dresses on or something on each side of the stage. We walked in closer, I didn't know what to make of the music yet. I was trying to figure out what this band was. There was one band member on each side of the stage at what looked like drum machines and some keyboards for each of them, no computers, all analog. There was a singer at this point always singing through some voice distortion system in a weird creepy, carnival like voice.
At one point the music got very loud, a sound that was somewhat like a blender was blaring through the venue. Then a barrage of trumpets came through as the beat started to come in. I noticed some what of a island flavor to the songs, it was dancey and electronic, and almost dub/reggae at times.
Then at one point I heard some words I recognized, I couldn't exactly place it. I knew I liked this song and had heard it recently but it didn't really sound like anything I could remember. This was a progressive interesting sound, it wasn't quite like anything else. I was wondering if it was this band Battles my friend John had recently introduced me to. I had only heard a few of there songs, I was wondering if it was one of those. I knew they also had distorted vocals and used electronic equipment in this way. I even sent a text message to John at one point when I was sure this was Battles, I felt silly when I realized it wasn't them.
Then I heard what sounded like the Animal Collective song "Peacebone" start playing off of there new album with somewhat of a polka beat. I checked and the same band was on stage. Although, the song was much different than I remembered. It did not sound like the recorded version. Was this Animal Collective all along? I thought I knew the music pretty well. How could I not recognize Animal Collective's music? I had listened to Strawberry Jam at least 5 times since I've had it. I had listened to Feels tons of times.
I saw the edge of a cymbal from my viewpoint but couldn't really see a drummer, I never saw the cymbals move. If this was Animal Collective I knew that Panda Bear should be on drums. Then I heard him sing, it was unmistakable the Brian Wilson sounding falsetto. Later I saw him actually play the drums while standing. The drums were only played a few times the entire night, mainly all drum machines.The songs became more recognizable at times, at least the lyrics once I realized it was in fact Animal Collective. I did not know what to make of this, but I knew I liked it, whatever it was. I wasn't really mad the songs were not played like the songs on the albums I loved. I respected the fact they wanted to do something totally different with the songs and I thought it was done pretty well for the most part. I talked to a few people and the crowd and some hated it, some loved it. One guy said he had seen them play live a few times and they normally play the songs different than the albums. "Who could win a rabbit" was hardly recognizable to me, only by the lyrics did I finally catch on. It was almost as if they were covering themselves.
At one point in the show Avey Tare mentioned something about the monitor sounding too "bassy". The whole show was very bass heavy and reggae sounding. Its hard to describe the weird spin they put on all the songs. I don't know if it was for halloween or what, being halloween is still a month away.
I never heard or at least recognized my favorite AC song "Did you see the words?" but I did enjoy the show quite a bit. They left the stage to return for no encore. The lights didn't immediately come on and people began to change for them to return but they did not. I enjoyed the band's audacity to play the songs in this way. I thought it was a success but could see how some fans wouldn't like it. Overall, a great experience. It didn't beat out the LCD Soundsystem performance earlier this year but this one is up on the list.