Animal Tracks Spotted at 'Sco
In the dark, sold-out ’Sco, wires flooded out from a two-foot high stage. Suddenly an assortment of guitar, keyboard and synth sounds fulminated toward the eager ears of Oberlin College students. If the sweaty, snarling, mob-style dancing surrounding Animal Collective last Sunday, Sept. 9, could be a measure for the upcoming school year, then it’s going to be a f--cking brilliant year.
Animal Collective is an experimental band, ­­­­ingeniously creating songs that are both catchy pop tunes and abstract cacophonous melodies. Music that might be coined “avant-garde” or “difficult” by a critic successfully flourishes when performed live by this band. The multi-layered songs are unceasingly tricky to unravel; vocals, guitar, keyboards, pre-recorded material, synths and other effects are all present on stage.
Currently residing in New York City, Animal Collective is a band born in the Park School of Baltimore, where its members met at a young age and started recording together in various forms. The band consists of Avey Tare (David Portner), Panda Bear (Noah Lennox), Geologist (Brian Weitz) and Deakin (Josh Dibb), who was absent from Sunday’s show.
Avey Tare and Panda Bear share most of the vocal responsibilities, which often disturbingly reflect animal sounds: a wolf howling, an owl shrieking, a peacock screaming, an elephant trumpeting. Their voices are mostly affected, and in between abstract non-sensical sounds you might hear beautifully imaginative and visionary lyrical phrases like “the peace bone got found in the dinosaur wing.”
The vocals, whether abstract or heart-stopping, anchor the band’s eccentric melodies and offer a portal into an imagined world where skeletons wearing blue tutus might make sense. (And, yes, surrounding the band onstage were several skeletons, one of which was uncomfortably close to me, wearing a blue velvet tutu.)
Repetitive rhythmic beats didn’t die out as the band moved from one song to the next, leaving little to no silence throughout the show. The audience moved in a mob that mashed together and pulled apart like silly putty, and with this constant movement it was impossible not to move into the bizarre, bubbly space that Animal Collective’s music creates.
The band has a collective energy that remains unmatched by any of its contemporaries. The group’s music remains genre-defining and continues to evolve, grow and push musical boundaries, all while the band unrelentingly pumps out new albums, videos and tours at a rapid pace.
Although the new Animal Collective album, Strawberry Jam, came out officially on Tuesday, Sept. 11, many of the songs had already been leaked online. Strawberry Jam is an album worthy of obsession, and I will be listening to it on repeat, in anticipation of Animal Collective’s next creation.