Animal Collective at The Fox Oakland, 5/26/09

by Gordon Elgart on May 27, 2009

The Animal Collective stage was colorful all night long

The Animal Collective stage was colorful all night long

Animal Collective are one of those bands that people either love or hate.  There doesn’t seem to be a middle ground with them.  Yet I found myself smack dab in the middle before seeing them live.  Admittedly, I don’t know their material all that well.  I love some of their songs; I hate some of their songs.  My favorites of their songs are ones that sound an awful lot like Conspiracy, the ridiculously obscure Yes side project that featured tons of vocal interplay.  The songs I can’t stand are the ones that meander endlessly, seemingly without purpose.

So what was the live experience like?  A little from column A, a little from column B.For the first hour or so, the band played a lot of their meandering material, and the crowd seemed to react as I’d expect.  There was a lot of staring at the stage with a few slight head nods here and there.  The only real highlight of the first hour or so was the song “Daily Routine” from Merriweather Post Pavillion, which ended with an extended coda of beautiful singing from Panda Bear (Noah Lennox).  His voice is amazing, and I would have liked to have heard more of his singing during the show overall.

The finishing kick, however, was quite impressive.  The band started playing their more aggressive material, and the crowd finally got excited.  The floor started hopping, and even some of the balcony sitters stood up and started dancing.  This all started with the song “Fireworks” which closed the main set and then continued through the encore.  The encore included “My Girls,” which is undoubtedly their best ever track.  (You could doubt me on this at your peril.)

The lights were effective throughout, though not impressive.  For a band that often plays by pushing buttons, blurring the line between live and recorded, I thought the light show as a bit underwhelming.  It’s practically a DJ show at times, so I thought more projections and even some lasers would be appropriate.  The photo gallery demonstrates the sparse but colorful light show.

The colors of Animal Collective

Picture 1 of 7

The Fox Theater, while beautiful, is quickly getting the reputation for being a bit “boomy.”  This worked perfectly for Animal Collective, though, as all the bits and pieces resonating and repeating created a wall of sound effect that wouldn’t be as effective in a quieter setting.

I cribbed a setlist from the handwritten note paper that my friend Jon collected from the stage.  It seems some songs are missing, and others are beyond my knowledge of the band.  This, then, will be quoted exactly as written, and you can interpret it as you’d like:


Gordon Elgart

A music nerd who probably uses that term too much. I have a deep love for bombastic, quirky and dynamic music.

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