I mean we should just start by saying that we haven't seen so many people passed out, nodding out and just straight up collapsing at a show since the Dead played Bonnaroo two years back. At Sunday night's Animal Collective jammy jammy jump-off, Webster Hall was like a fucking battlefield scattered with casualties—at the end of the night, the security staff probably had to scare out all the passed out dudes and bros with a fire hose. That said, it might not have been drugs—the Manimals put on a rousing, rapturous, dizzying show full of all the tweaked yelping, romping and frumping (?) we've come to expect. In fact, Deakin spent most of the set spinning in circles like a giraffe dressed in white, and Avey Tare pawed between the mic and the drums like some kind of slender but athletic cat.
We were super-psyched that they slipped the Stevie Wonder "Have I Told You Lately" quote into "Purple Bottle", too. Not sure if this has made its way onto the internets or not yet, but when we first previewed Animal Collective's latest record Feels, the Wonder reference was actually on the album, but when the band couldn't get it cleared in time (Stevie moves slowly), they had to re-do the song without it. We're pretty sure that last night Avey sang, "Have I told you lately that I like you," which is funny. See how he changed it a little? SEE THAT? Anyway, Avey is our main dude just because he plays a black version of Tiger, but still, Dude Of The Night goes to Geologist, who does all the live noise and sound manipulation and no matter how hard we stared we couldn't figure out what does what on the weird electronic setup he's got. But the more literal stuff that you can make out is fun as shit to watch from the balcony—particularly when he's sliding a fader up and down and Avey's voice warps around accordingly.
Also, we love Panda Bear's percussion, especially all the really caffeinated patterns on the rim of the floor tom, but DUDE, sometimes a song needs a bass drum. Those huge flashes of cymbal that really jack the songs up to a new level on Feels were pretty much non-existent last night because that trash cymbal just needs some MMMPH behind it to ratchet everything up a notch and it wasn't there. If he wants to stand up that bad while he plays then cool, but at least get all Trilock Gurtu and figure out how to get some bass drum in there one way or another. There's not a bass guitar, and Geologist can only make up for so much.
Anyway, the AC really is the most joyous band we can imagine—even if it is a kind of unsettling and impossible childhood nostalgia kind of joy. But the beauty of both the live shows and the records is that there are a shit-ton of thrills, but none of them are cheap. You work for those highs, and the band does too; through dark, noisy bubbling wanderings, to moments of sharp dissonance and stretched tones, to vocals that have been layered and layered and muddled, to looooong stretches without any melody at all. But then the drum patterns start scurrying and the bubbles pop and a melody forms and a bit of a lyric jumps out at you loud and clear ("WE'LL TAKE OUR SHOES OFF!") and the yelping begins and the spinning begins and suddenly there aren't just melodies but big fat, dripping hooks'a'plenty. Fuck eating too much acid and getting carried out on a stretcher! Have a beer! It's one of the best bands doing it! THEY WILL GET YOU HIGH!
Rumor has it that the band is back at Webster Hall in March. Get your tickets early, and get your mixology right. More on AC in F33.