Fresh off the recent release of their eleventh full-length album, Painting With, Animal Collective returned to New York last week for the first time since their 2013 Governor’s Ball performance. The first of their two sold-out Irving Plaza show kicked off Tuesday, as the crowd gathered in eager anticipation to witness the latest evolution of Animal Collective’s musical endeavors.
The lights dimmed and the opening dialogue to “Golden Gal” came on overhead. Panda Bear, Geologist, and Avey Tare took the stage as a trio of looming, totem-like characters came to life behind them, vibrant washes of color illuminating their frozen, cartoonish expressions. The band members danced onstage continuously throughout the set, while projections of moving lines and pulsating colors danced across the looming characters’ faces, creating occasional illusions of movement. The harmonious union of sound and visuals was impeccable, creating a hypnotizing psychedelic ambience that had the crowd drawn in from the start.
Animal Collective’s 90-minute set prominently featured material from Painting With, with a few of the band’s deeper cuts carefully scattered throughout. This latest album feels a bit less “abstract” than some of the band’s previous work, incorporating tribal rhythms that seem to lend the songs a more concrete direction. Extended jams, pulsing beats, and an endless array of sound effects swirled one song into the next, creating fluid transitions that left each track without a distinguishable beginning or end. It felt as if the band had taken us down their rabbit hole, on a continuous journey through the strange and colorful world they had constructed.
“Daily Routine,” the only track from Merriweather Post Paviliion that found it’s way into the evening’s rotation, drew a noticeable reaction from the audience with its spiraling synth riffs and echoing vocals. “Bees” and “Loch Raven,” two delicate, ethereal tracks off the band’s earlier album, Feels, each provided an opportunity for a contemplative pause, a short intermission before returning to the thumping, sensory chaos present throughout much of the set. “Bees” slowly gave way to Painting With’s “Lying In the Grass,” which quickly proved to be a pleasing standout from the night. The track paired perfectly with the room’s eclectic setting, swelling loudly through the room before erupting into a thunderous finale accompanied by a frenzy of flashing lights. The set closed with another new song, “Floridada,” which was eagerly received by the audience as they bounced along with the song’s infectious beat.
Animal Collective has brought us another innovative set of tunes that took on an exciting life of their own in the band’s Tuesday’s night performance. Created from the their familiar slew of buttons and cords seen onstage, Painting With provides a whole new range of vibrant hues that continues to captivate the band’s audience.
Article: Nicole Shyti