When you go to an Animal Collective show, you don’t go and just hear some band playing their songs in person. Animal Collective’s live show is an immersive and overwhelming sensory experience. Imagine if a rainbow came to life and swallowed you. Or if you could see sound waves and they were flying at your face. You get the idea. Animal Collective’s live show takes audiences on an experiential binge.
I’d seen Animal Collective at the end of 2009 so I was prepared for their show at the Enmore Theatre on January 17. The band is currently touring Australia off the back of the Big Day Out tour, with their first performances in Australia since 2012’s release of Centipede HZ.
Animal Collective treated the audience to almost two hours of their tracks, taking a while to warm up to the occasional interspersion of psychedelic, pulsing interludes in between songs. The set list was mostly from their two latest albums with ‘Peacebone’ the only exception, off 2007’s Strawberry Jam.
The reason I like Animal Collective’s music is that it pushes me to the boundaries of what I find melodic and enjoyable. My brother calls it demented carnival music, and it kinda is. Their songs are sometimes only a short step away from being inaccessible and discordant, but the band has managed to fine-tune their sound so it is just the right blend of avant-garde and indie-pop. Animal Collective’s characteristic noise/music amalgamation inspires re-evaluation of what popular music is supposed to sound like. Their live show is an extension of this philosophy, a visual orgy of colours and images that managed not to distract from, but rather enhanced Animal Collective’s inimitable sound. Oh, and there are giant teeth.
The one complaint for Animal Collective’s live show is that the band’s weird time signatures aren’t conducive to dancing, but that wasn’t enough to hold back one of the more enthusiastic audiences I’ve seen in a while. As one fellow concertgoer said, “I feel like I’m listening to my mind.”
A final warning for those catching the band on their Australian tour: normal life may seem a bit less colourful after seeing Animal Collective live.
Photo by Dan Turner for the AU review.