» Full Dark, No Stars - Stephen King's new novella questions mankind's ability to trust others.
[02.21.2011 by Bridget Doyle]


 » The Top 30 Albums of 2010 - Fashionably, fabulously late, our favorite music (and believe me, there was a LOT) of 2010, the year that some have called the best year for music ever. And only some of those fools work here. Plenty of usual suspects, lots of ties and a few surprises that I won't spoil, including our unexpected #1.
[12.24.2010 by The LAS Staff]


 » Live: Surfer Blood/The Drums at Lincoln Hall, Chicago, IL - Remember when Weezer used to put together records that you could sing along to and rock out to? That's what Surfer Blood's show was like!
[11.04.2010 by Cory Tendering]

Music Reviews

Screaming Females - Castle Talk
»Screaming Females
Castle Talk
Don Giovanni
Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross - The Social Network [Original Soundtrack]
»Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross
The Social Network [Original Soundtrack]
The Null Corporation
Deerhunter - Halcyon Digest
Halcyon Digest
No Age - Everything in Between
»No Age
Everything in Between
Sub Pop
Robyn - Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
The Walkmen - Lisbon
»The Walkmen
Fat Possum

May 21, 2007
Operating with the same lineup for some six years, Animal Collective has consistently been a band on the rise. For the past several years, beginning in 2003 with the release of Here Comes the Indian on their Paw Tracks imprint and culminating with the 2005 issue of Feels, the band has become one of the brightest blips on the avant-rock radar. So whether it be for the potential of a truly "freak-folk" experience, catching unheard songs from the forthcoming Fat Cat-issued fall release Strawberry Jam, or just the chance to see an exceptional band in person, the prospect of Animal Collective performing at Chicago's Metro Theater late last week had high excitement riding on its side.

An all-ages crowd began to pack the house at 6:30 and solo acoustic guitarist-vocalist Sir Richard Bishop warmed up the venue with comedic traditional tunes and flamenco fingerboard drills. Before Bishop left the stage he thanked the crowd and primed the headliner with, "Animal Collective is next. They'll be out whenever they damn well please."

Fifteen minutes after Bishop's departure, three men took the stage and immediately began forging noise from an elaborate instrument setup. Having never seen the group perform live before, but being familiar with their cerebral and truly unconventional albums, I didn't think it odd to find no conventional drum kit setup or a stringed instrument anywhere in sight. As the set began, each member stood behind tables topped with mounds of cables, keyboards, and effects knobs and switches. Additionally, Avey Tare and Panda Bear, the pair of players largely responsible for the band's sound, were situated near a conga drum, floor tom, cymbal, and microphones.

Most of Animal Collective's cache of toys were used, and often simultaneously, to cull a heavy and pulsating electronic wall of sound throughout lengthy experimental track-to-track performances. Due to the band's innate tinkering nature, some songs came off as dance-like, with big beats at their center and everything else as periphery, subject to change noise. Even though Animal Collective are known to use lots of delay and reverb on their recorded material, in a live setting these essences almost warped the audio collage to the point of eclipsing the vocals and percussion entirely. The swelling echo effect, amplified in part by the venue, frequently made it difficult to discern the contributions of the two vocalists or the dynamics and rhythmic patterns being created by crescendoing cymbal and drum buildups.

While an enveloping squall can at times create emphasis to magical effect, the muddled sound fog at the Metro only served to remove all distinction from the impressive and unique musical interplay found on Animal Collective's albums. Most of the time the three members stood stationary, hunching over their table stations, only Avey Tare intermittently hopping around while screaming indecipherably into a microphone or moving to a keyboard facing the back of the stage. A remarkable recorded band needn't always have an overwhelming stage presence, but at the least they should leave fans with something striking - besides loud and massively distorted sound - to walk away with. With paying followers shelling out more than $20 per ticket, Animal Collective should at least be beholden to deliver a performance more remarkable than an Oak Ridge Boys set in Branson, Missouri, but they never seemed to take it to that level at Metro.

SEE ALSO: www.pawtracks.com
SEE ALSO: www.myspace.com/animalcollectivetheband

Josh Zanger
Joshua Ian Zanger, a native of rural Chicago, rocks many a world with his writing, style, and generally sweet aroma.

See other articles by Josh Zanger.



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