Live: Animal Collective In Wonderland At Prospect Park Bandshell
Animal Collective w/Black Dice
Celebrate Brooklyn! at Prospect Park Bandshell
Tuesday, July 12
Better than: Sweating at home alone.
Animal Collective has usually been categorized by its two primary creative forces: Avey Tare and Panda Bear. Sure, Deakin and Geologist are important (and perhaps more important than the other two if you're only talking about the live show), but it's not uncommon to judge a group by its singers. Normally, Avey and Panda split vocal and lyrical duties; however, at last night's Prospect Park Bandshell show, the sweaty crowd was treated to the Avey Tare Experience, Featuring Three Other Dudes. This is not a bad thing: Avey's aesthetics, both lyrically and vocally, translate to the live setting better than Panda's woozy drone tracks. But seeing Panda Bear relegated to harmonies and drums was unexpected.
AnCo tends to divide people along "love 'em or hate 'em" lines. Last night's show threw a curveball into that equation, however; they played mostly new, unreleased material that not very many people in the crowd knew. Perhaps this helps explain Avey's commanding presence; Panda Bear, after all, recorded his solo album recently, and that probably took a lot of his time. Either way, the new songs were (surprisingly) mellow and (unsurprisingly) beautiful, including the encore standout "Little Kid."
The climax of the set, however, was the two-song burst of classics that ended the pre-encore portion of the evening. "We Tigers" elicited a singalong from the more diehard fans in the crowd (one particularly enthusiastic guy matched Avey's "whoop"s throughout). Then came "Summertime Clothes" which, for a moment, turned the pit into a dance-mosh hybrid. The relatively straightforward dance-rock track translates live better than most of the group's songs, and the thousands of exhausted fans from jumped up and down throughout. As the foursome played themselves off with a great performance of "Taste," one was left to adjust the eyes to not seeing the flurry of colored lights that had so radiantly emanated from the stage moments earlier.
Critical bias: I'm more #TeamPanda than #TeamAvey.
Overheard: "I thought those guys sang 'My Girls'?" an audibly crestfallen young woman on the way out of the venue.
Random notebook dump: A moment must be taken to commend the Alice in Wonderland stage design for the show, which featured synchronized light-up crystals and a seriously creepy face that projected videos from the eyes and mouth.