Animal Collective | 09.24.07

animal_collective.jpgHaving never seen them live, I was a little nervous to break my Animal Collective show cherry, after having heard all kinds of stories about how they often play one older album all the way through for a show, and things like that.  

 

 

 

 

 

The Gargoyle, St. Louis, MO

I hate seeing shows at The Gargoyle so much. It has to be a band that I’m absolutely dying to see to get me to wade through the sea of dickheads that are always in that place. The stage is maybe two feet higher than the floor (and Wash U kids are well-bred, so if you not in the very front, there’s always a lot of neck craning), you can’t smoke or drink, the room is small and sad and hot, and no matter what the show, you can pretty safely assume that the place is going to be overrun with idiotic frat boys that have no idea who the band is but needed something to do on a Friday night. Animal Collective holds enough sway with me to get me to put a halt on my Gargoyle ban, especially since, until a couple of days ago, I had never seen them live before. Coupled with the fact that a) the show was never free for Wash U kids and b) it sold out well in advance, I figured the crowd wouldn’t be too obnoxious.

I was, of course, wrong. This wound up not being as huge an issue as it has been in the past, because AC are loud and dissonant enough to run out a lot of the people who were there to just have something to do-I’d estimate that about a third of the crowd left before the end of AC’s approximately 90-minute, no encore set. Good thing, too, since I started out stuck in the back (my fault, I know).

Having never seen them live, I was a little nervous to break my Animal Collective show cherry, after having heard all kinds of stories about how they often play one older album all the way through for a show, and things like that. Their set at the Gargoyle was more varied, but still sort of odd when compared to the way it’s usually done-the vast majority of the show was given over to songs from either their new release, Strawberry Jam, or their 2004 album Sung Tongs, while avoiding most of their quote-unquote hits, including the one true instant classic from Jam, "For Reverend Green," and the entirety of their best album, Feels. They did play the first single from Strawberry Jam, "Peacebone," which brought a cheer of recognition and employed super bass that bypassed your ears and went straight for your brain. The first recognizable, non-drony and drawn-out song of the show was Tongs‘ "Who Could Win a Rabbit?" which was sped up from its already fast pace, and a lot of fun.

Seeing the band in person was both heartening and disappointing at the same time-being called "Animal Collective" and making music as odd and wonderful as they do, I was expecting, at the very least, that they would obscure their visage from the audience in some way. Turns out they’re all regular looking guys, with Panda Bear getting sweaty in a black t-shirt and Avey Tare (who does his crazy scream-sing thing as well or better live as he does on albums, satisfyingly) wearing a dopey kind-of sideways hat.  The only things dressing up the stage were three underutilized skeletons, two of which were wearing sexy teddies. Although I wasn’t disappointed, I kind of expected more weirdness and/or shenanigans than this.

They closed out the show with a ridiculously good, fast and loud version of the best track on Sung Tongs, "We Tigers," which made a mess of slapping bodies and everyone who wasn’t already sweating sweaty. The result of all of this, if it isn’t already apparent, is that the show was worth braving The Gargoyle for. That said, both U2 and The Velvet Underground has played Graham Chapel in the fairly distant past, so let’s stop farting around with the embarrassingly small and generally irritating Gargoyle and go back to booking the good bands thirty feet across the sidewalk. I’d shit if that ever actually happened, but, well, I can complain in the meantime, can’t I? | Pete Timmermann

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