Saturday, May 16, 2009

Concert review: Animal Collective at House of Blues, Boston, May 14, 2009

Maybe it was the giant white ball hovering moonlike above the stage, its surface swarming with abstract film projections. Maybe it was the colored lights mounted under the white-draped tables where the three band members bent over their instruments. Or maybe it was the music itself: layered, percussive, hypnotic, and building moment by moment to a joyous climax.

Whatever the reason, Animal Collective definitely brought a ‘90s rave vibe to Boston’s House of Blues last night—even though most of the kids in the audience were probably way too young to recall the era of baggy pants and glowsticks. From the moment the first beats of new song “What Would I Want Sky,” exploded out of a delicate, looping guitar sample, the sold-out crowd started jumping and dancing frenetically—much like we did back in the day during an especially awesome DJ set.

Of course, though trance-influenced, Animal Collective’s music is anything but nostalgic; their set list drew heavily from the innovative sounds of the 2009 stunner Merriweather Post Pavilion, including a raucous version of “Summertime Clothes” and climaxing with the dizzy, ecstatic “Brother Sport.” Other highlights were an extended version of “Fireworks,” one of my favorite tracks from Strawberry Jam, featuring Panda Bear flailing out an energetic drum rhythm; and a mass sing-along to “Comfy in Nautica” from Panda ’s 2007 solo effort, Person Pitch. (“That’s not even an Animal Collective song!” the guy next to us grumbled, though I’m pretty sure he was the only one complaining.)

In an encore to the nearly two-hour-long show, the slow-building melodies of “Chocolate Girl”—featuring gorgeous Avey Tare vocals—merged triumphantly into the recent crowd-pleaser “My Girls.” And as the audience shrieked and flailed in approval, I glimpsed yet another sign of the new combining with the old: A young girl dancing a few feet away, twirling with a lit-up iPhone in one hand and a green glowstick in the other. --Anna Kramer


Animal Collective also played Letterman last week...

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