Animal Collective brought a healthy dose of experimentation and playfulness to Vancouver’s Vogue Theatre on Tuesday night. With more distortion that a Trump rally, the bands eclectic blend of percussion, vocals, and synthesizers painted an aural landscape that would make Bob Ross blush.
Animal Collective is the amalgam of talent from artists Panda Bear, Avey Tare, Geologist, and Deakin. Making pop-influenced experimental music for well over a decade, they are currently on tour for their most recent release Painting With.
Opening with “Golden Gal”, Avey Tare’s whimsical vocals set a tone for the evening of levity and lightheartedness. Animal Collective, although not unfamiliar with dark experimentation, presents as almost cartoonish in nature – in concert even sporting three giant caricatures as stage décor. They bounce rhythms and tones off each individual member to create dynamic syncopation and melody that leads the crowd to bob along to their pop sound-scape.
Where the show really shines is in Animal Collective’s ability to ebb and flow between dissonance and assonance; to move from an unfamiliar, chaotic sound into a recognizable rhythm that transforms into that one song you’ve been dying to hear. At multiple points in the evening I had a friend lean over to ask, “Is this [insert song here]?” only to receive a shrug of my shoulders as I waited for a familiar beat to latch on to in recognition.
This wavering song/interlude/song format creates cohesion in the set but also tests the audience. For instance, as great as the show may have been, the crowd was extremely static. Is that a result of playing so much unfamiliar, irregularly timed music? I would say this is a good thing – the alternative being too monotonous for both performer and spectator – but perhaps not to everyone’s taste. The musical performance was paired with an equally impressive projected display of frenetic patterns and pastels. It really was a multimedia experience that engrossed the audience in sound and sight.
Animal Collective’s live performance was described to me beforehand as an electronic jam session and I would have to agree. Because of the extensive amount of experimentation and improvisation involved, it’s hard to pinpoint if any faults occurred on Tuesday night (save for a technical issue with a microphone). All members present were enthusiastically involved with putting together an entertaining show and succeeding immensely at achieving this. Without hesitation, you should be picking up tickets the next time Animal Collective is in your city.