Friday, May 30, 2008

Animal Collective / Atlas Sound @ Koko, 22 May 2008


Last week I fulfilled a long-standing ambition – to see Animal Collective live. Somehow, in the couple of years or so that I’ve been listening to them, I’ve never managed to see them play, though it hasn’t been for the lack of opportunities. So last Thursday I headed to Koko with anticipation and a little wariness. Their live rep can be erratic, so I was hoping for not too much experimental re-interpretation. But I needn’t have worried.


Before Animal Collective I saw the last few songs of Bradford Cox’s set as Atlas Sound. When I reviewed his solo album (which I really like), I wondered how Cox would re-create the dense layered sounds of Let the Blind... on stage. The answer was alone, with loops, backing tracks and guitar. This sort of performance can often be none-too-exciting to watch, but he just about managed it through engaging with the audience, good use of his tricks and the quality of his songs. Not amazing, but certainly a worthwhile warm-up.

Download: Atlas Sound - Winter Vacation

I’ve often seen Animal Collective described as psychedelic folk, which is puzzling after just listening to their records, but after seeing them live it makes no sense at all. The first part may have some truth, but folk? How many folk gigs do you spend having bass reverberate through your guts and leave with your ears ringing? Any reservations I may have had about the live show were resoundingly blown away by an incredible performance. If anything, the set was a lot tighter and conventional than expected, with songs often clearly recognisable, and sometimes even ending before the next one started.


Peacebone was a riot, the segue from Fireworks to Essplode and back again was thrilling, the new songs sounded great and the main set closer Brother Sport (one of these new ones) took me somewhere else. They also played a fantastic version of Comfy in Nautica, which is as close to a Panda Bear gig as we’re going to get.

For what was mainly three men mostly standing behind equipment, it was an absorbing and exciting gig. When not fiddling with wires or playing guitar, Avey Tare prowled the stage like an energetic weasel. The Geologist remained behind his gear, headlamp bobbing around Orbital-style. And over on stage right, Panda Bear alternated between pressing buttons and thrashing a stand-up drum-kit.

Sure, there was time spent standing intently (but never bored) while the trio cruised though their more downbeat experimental moments, but then the huge beats kicked in and the crowd started up again. Animal Collective have such an impressive back catalogue behind (and in front) of them, and their live show, lights and all, is so enthralling, that this gig couldn’t have been be anything other than a pure pleasure.

Download: Animal Collective – Chocolate Girl
Download: Animal Collective – Leaf House
Download: Animal Collective – Fireworks

Setlist:

Chocolate Girl
Comfy in Nautica
PeaceboneLeaf House
Daily Routine*
Bearhug*
Fireworks/Essplode/Fireworks
Lion In A Coma*
House*
Song For Ariel*
Brother Sport*

Encore

Nomorerunnin'*
Grass (Feels)


*Denotes a new song. Thanks to the good people of Drowned in Sound for the setlist and other info.

Top photo from Sophie LH's Flickr. Other photos from Jodi Warren's Flickr. I had some myself, but I went and lost my camera SD card like the silly fool I am. But Sophie and Jodi's are much better anyway.

4 comments:

thefourohfive said...

Hey, great blog guys!


Oliver

www.thefourohfive.com

McG said...

peep campfire songs or prospect hummer ep (w/ vashti bunyan) to find out why some describe them as psych-folk. certainly they've moved away from the organic sylvan sound, but it was, at one point, their 'sound.'

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Ohh, i would like to see Animal Collective live. i usually like the experimental re-interpretation. i think result a best production.

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