Last Night: Animal Collective at Culture Room

photo by Ian Witlen
View New Times' full slideshow of the show here.

Animal Collective
With Black Dice
Tuesday, June 9, 2009
Culture Room, Ft. Lauderdale

Better Than: Eating Terry Riley's leftover mushrooms and listening to a Diplo mashup of the Beach Boys.

The Review:

"Harry Belafonte! Harry Belafonte!"

That's what the girl next to me last night screamed in the few moments when Animal Collective's live sonic roar slipped into its quieter moments. Her implied comparison wasn't far off. Maybe there wasn't so much Belafonte, but I definitely heard plenty of the Beach Boys in this band's harmonies and wash of lush reverb.

More surprisingly though, the influence of the experimental composer Terry Riley sprung up repeatedly. From his astral excursions, Animal Collective seems to have distilled the sound of cascading keyboard notes falling in such rapid succession that each one seems to precede the one that came before it. Think, for example, of the intro to "My Girls" for a poignant Riley reference). And Riley has always made music that facilitates being alive, that explores the phenomenology of the world. So does Animal Collective. Just see the chorus of the latter's "Taste:" "Am I really all the things that are outside of me?"

And thus this concert was a matter of spirituality, community, and transcendence. The audience shrieked in glee, howled the lyrics to the songs with their heads cocked back , cried out, cried, and generally lost it. What Animal Collective managed to achieve was a synergistic event, with the sum of all of the parts of the experience creating the kind of magic that, ideally, we expect from art.

Avey Tare, Panda Bear, and Geologist tread so close to embodying and sounding out the ideals, aspirations, and concerns of a generation of United States youth that they could very well have spontaneously combusted on stage from the pressure. Frankly, it is a matter of magic to see a group of performers taming abstraction, but doing so without interfering with its immediacy. The musicians themselves are a direct link to the romantic, ethereal spirituality that undergirds those who consider themselves fans.

It was Tuesday night, and most of these people would be at work tomorrow, but in the moment, they were at Temple. It is 2009 and religion is not dogmatic -- it is aesthetic, and Animal Collective is divining the spirit.

Critic's Notebook

Personal Bias: When the bass drops like it did at Culture Room, my attention is sustained far longer than usual.

Random Detail: The dude running the video was Jack. Thanks for letting me post up in your already-tight, spot Jack. Pause.

By The Way: Holler at Panda Bear's 2007 solo album Person Pitch for some dope tunes.

--Zachary Moldof

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