Animal Collective Live @ Southgate House, Newport KY 5/15
The fine folks of the greater Cincinnati area were blessed with two great shows at the Southgate House this week. On Monday, The Hold Steady brought the rock to a crowd around 10x's the size of the one they had at the very same venue less than two years ago. This was obviously great to see. The show was (at least for this guy) exactly the kind of beer-drenched good time one would expect when attending one of their concerts. Animal Collective played the next night and, although the shows couldn't have been any different, they were probably even better.
As this was my first Animal Collective show, I did not know quite what to expect from the band in the live context. Let's just say the band more than lived up to my expectations. I assumed that the Collective played nearly all, if not the entirety, of their upcoming album Strawberry Jam along with a some of their of older tunes (Doggy, Who Could Win a Rabbit, Loch Raven, Leaf House). But, I was informed by a courteous and well-informed reader that the new songs were actually tunes from another new album that may surface sometime after Strawberry Jam. So basically, the band is apparently two albums ahead. The crowd responded well to the new material and was virtually transfixed while Avey Tare, Panda Bear, and Geologist tore through their set using only a small drum kit, keyboards, and samplers. The boys had a problem with the power supply during the fourth or fifth tune, which had to be aborted. After shaking off the technical difficulties, the rest of the set went according to plan and was incredible. The new stuff was unfamiliar to the crowd, but no one seemed to mind being treated to the electronics-heavy unreleased tunes.
While a good portion of the new material appears to showcase the Collective in "song-mode", the studio versions of the new songs are likely going to be a departure from their 2005 masterpiece Feels. Feels was the band's most straightforward and accessible album, due in large part to the traditional rock band feel of many of the tracks-- although Animal Collective's version of a "traditional rock band" is obviously going to be far from the ordinary. Based on Tuesday's show, the new material is going to be more ambient and rely more on electronic elements than did Feels. The new stuff felt sonically closer to Panda Bear's Person Pitch-- albeit darker in tone and theme-- than previous Animal Collective efforts. The band has been constantly improving with each studio album and, although topping Feels is going to be nearly impossible feat, I'm eagerly anticipating the release of both Strawberry Jam and studio versions of these tunes.
Here's a highlight from their 2005 album Feels-->
MP3: Animal Collective - "Grass" (link via Spin)
Download some live versions of tunes slated to appear on Strawberry Jam: Here & Here.
Watch a video of the band performing "Cuckoo Cuckoo": Here.
Check out Animal Collective's upcoming tour dates: Here.