When the fans lined up outside of the box office are wearing indian feathers and panda hat-cape combos you can start to guess the absolute value of the intensity of the show to ensue. The House of Blues in Dallas had plenty of costumes donned by adoring Animal Collective fans and the show most certainly followed suit.
I think that Animal Collective choose opening acts based on how confused they make their crowds. Three years ago they toured with the experimental noise band Black Dice. On that night one man passed out during their set (maybe due to drugs, but I would like to think because of the unexpected and somewhat disorienting music on show). Being slightly familiar with Micachu and the Shapes from their debut album ‘Jewelry,’ I had an idea of what kind of ride we were in for.
Most of the songs came off of their most recent effort ‘Never.’ Their brand of quirky, jittery pop music is at once both accessible but alienating. The crowd wanted to engage but often did not know how. This tour might be a bit too large for Micachu and gang – their music is geared toward a smaller, more appreciative and patient audience. Between each song instruments were specially tuned and many adjustments were made, sometimes awkwardly so. Many times as the tempo of a song shifted or slowed the crowd would prematurely applaud the ‘end’ of a song. The reactions were not quite as polarizing as those Black Dice elicited, but the crowd was clearly there for one reason: to be wooed by the Animal Collective gang.
The stage set for the night was intricate and expansive. The giant teeth on the top and bottom of the stage formed a mouth similar to the one on the cover of their most recent LP ‘Centipede Hz’ and a swirl of colorful and patterned inflatables doubled as a projection screen. The teeth glowed with the mood of the song and provided visual sensory overload.
The music itself was a mixed bag. A majority of the songs from Centipede Hz were played, along with sprinkles of favorites from past albums. Some songs did not seem to reach their full potential live. Newest single “Applesauce” did not have the carry from the vocals that is present in the recorded version of the song. “Today’s Supernatural” also felt to be missing its final build and punch. At the end of their set, though Avey Tare and co. hit their stride. Centipede Hz duo “New Town Burnout” and “Monkey Riches” were played with their accompanying stunning transition. The immense energy build in those tracks carried through classics “Brother Sport” and “Peacebone” to make an amazing finale.
The band came back on for an encore including but it did not match the energy of the previous sequence. Even fan favorite “My Girls” didn’t hit quite the same stride that was attained earlier. Perhaps the songs were just overshadowed by the excellence of the previous output. This trend is analogous to their recorded output. Although all of the show was enjoyable, the highs were so phenomenal the other portions felt flat in comparison.
Editor’s Note: I felt the only caption that could describe the image above is “WHOOSH.” Go Comets.