Concert Review: Animal Collective @ Royal Oak Music Theatre
I’ve had the pleasure of seeing a lot of live music in the last couple weeks-Leonard Cohen, Willie Nelson, King Khan etc- but was not really all that up for committing my interpretation of the events to the masses (by masses I mean the sixteen people who read this). As much as I enjoyed Leonard Cohen I didn’t want to use terms like “religious experience” even though that what it was, or write about how much I enjoyed Willie Nelson against the onslaught of assholes and Confederate Flags doing their best to ruin it for everyone with more than chewing tobacco for brain fluid. But last night’s Animal Collective show deserves a few words.
We arrived there right at doors thinking we wouldn’t be able to get a decent spot, all I heard were horror stories about the Royal Oak Music Theatre so I was nervous that we would be stuck behind a wall of seventeen year olds not being able to hear or see anything. When we found our spot we proceeded to wait a little over an hour and a half before Grouper came on. With that time I was able to enjoy the supreme pleasure in knowing that your youth has vanished and being perfectly content with it. With that, I will say that being around a bunch of younger people excited to see a show was rather invigorating.
Grouper came on and since there were a large portion of fans that had waited since doors opened everyone was excited when she began to play. That excitement proceeded to dissipate about three to five minutes into her set. Her reverb heavy looped vocals accompanied by her reverb heavy guitar were pretty, but also completely boring. At one point it caught my ear and I realized “wait this sounds like fucking Enya.” And when I made this statement to my friend she laughed, listened, than replied, “you’re right it does sound like Enya.” Sometimes you just have to take the hipster glasses off and see what it really sounds like. If anyone wants to leave some comments about music that sounds ridiculously familiar to a mainstream or uncool musicians go ahead, it’s fun, here I’ll start with an easy one: Vampire Weekend=Paul Simon’s Graceland.
When Grouper finished, Animal Collective came out on stage rather quickly I was rather surprised and grateful at the quick change, but they only came out to set up their be-bop machines and proceeded to go backstage and return to their bong tokes. About a half an hour later they came on and were absolutely amazing. Their stage set up was a large white orb that hung from the ceiling and was used as a projector screen for all these strange film clips, they also had a great light show which, all together, made up for the fact that they were just pushing buttons most of the time. Each song went into another with strange vocals and lush noises. Certain portion of their set seems to go on a little long but it had a flow to it that brought the crowd down than up again. And the crowd was great. I think there were more than a few people who were worried about the dudebro turnout but the crowd was mostly teenagers having a great time there was no pushing or crowd surfing, just a mass of people dancing like crazy, the first and second floor had just large groups of people dancing. From what I could gather since it was really loud and the songs were slightly reworked they mostly played the new album with couple of old songs; “Leaf House” off of “Sung Tongs” and a track off “Strawberry Jam” which I think is called “Fireworks.” After the show and completely satisfied I ran into a friend who said he didn’t like the show. He felt that they lost their organic feel, and the instead of using their vocals to make cohesive melody, they just use their machines to manipulate their voices and it just comes off as noise. Now I won’t argue with him that whatever organic feel they had with “Sung Tungs” is long gone but they still can create this really touching music without emo overtones and among mostly digital instruments. To hear this dance song about a man who unpretentiously wants to just have house for his girls makes you connect a little more to the beauty of life. What they are able to do is get you to enjoy the simple things, inflate them behind a chorus of voices and noises and see the wonders of chores, and kitties. And they can do to a dance beat! They may have changed their sound slightly and crowds may have gotten bigger but overall they still evoke the same feeling when I first heard them, so they’re doing all right to me.
* Photos by Refrigerizer