Psychedelic stalwarts stop by HoB
Animal Collective spends a night in Vegas on tour supporting new album
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Experimental psych-rock quartet, Animal Collective, took to the stage at the House of Blues on Sept. 25 on the seventh stop of their tour, which began earlier in the month. The band plans to make their way across the states and Western Europe to promote their ninth studio album, Centipede Hz, which was released on Sept. 4.
The Collective has been notorious for performing without all four members, but treated Las Vegas concert goers to a full-fledged ensemble.
The quartet of Avey Tare, Panda Bear, Geologist and Deakin were highly anticipated to please the crowd through their clever intermingling of eclectic sound and visual delights.
The first highlight of the performance came shortly after the band began their single released in early July, “Honeycomb,” which didn’t find its way onto Centipede Hz, but certainly did the trick when it came to electrifying a considerably drab crowd.
Fans responded warmly to a patiently played rendition of “Rosie Oh,” which is also off the new album. Yet, compared to Animal Collective shows of the past, the partially lethargic crowd merely swayed to the track, while only a few found themselves jumping and grooving among a sea of nearly stoic bystanders.
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What really moved the crowd to motion was the band’s decision to stray away from their new material and instead dabble in a few songs off of Merriweather Post Pavilion. The crowd’s enthusiasm seemed to climax with tracks including “Lion in a Coma,” “Brother Sport” and “My Girls.”
Whether this receding rapture is an indicator of Centipede Hz being too avant-garde of an album for the liking of live audiences, or a sign that a swath of fans may prefer the sounds of the past, is still open for interpretation.
What can be said with certainty, however, is that simply seeing the band perform is worth the ticket price. Because the members of Animal Collective are technically tied to their instruments, the performance of most songs greatly limits their freedom to move around stage.
Seemingly aware of their narrow range of motion, Animal Collective has become revered for the visual facet of their live performances, which usually take the form of video clips and images that are then haphazardly cut, rewound and flashed upon the screen.
Much like subjecting yourself to a hypnotic-sense of subliminal messaging, their magnetic montages have a way of trapping one’s full focus on the stage and the sounds which seem to stream from the four members of the group.
The House of Blues’ stage looked much like a gaping, gap-toothed mouth that extended farther onto the stage where colorful, claw-like arcs framed the band as they performed. From above hung a row of cartoon-like teeth, which were cast in different shades throughout each song, flashing to the melody much like keys on a piano.
But no matter how visually-gripping the band’s theatrics may be, they hardly compete with the sound that Animal Collective emits when performing live. While they may not be the most entertaining group to watch when stripped of special-effects, watching the quartet becomes just as consuming in their music as those who are eagerly watching makes for quite a gratifying concert experience.
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The might of Animal Collective’s sometimes tangled sounding tracks is something shared among both the crowd and the band themselves, giving the experience an overall sense of synthesis between those on and off the stage.
As their feverish encore came to an end, Animal Collective capped off the night with one of their newer tracks titled “Amanita,” which has a catchy, oriental intonation laid across a web of lyrics that are reminiscent of child-like fables.
Whether Centipede Hz was a hit with live audiences certainly doesn’t detract from the album’s overall success. Animal Collective will undoubtedly continue to consume and excite fans through their coordinated yet chaotic sound, which is bound to be enhanced by engrossing visuals and effects in performances to come.