Sunday, May 31, 2009

Animal Collective vs Grizzly Bear

I really wish I had an opportunity to write this blog earlier in the week when my thoughts were still fresh, but DOXA and life got in the way. So, here goes what is likely a watered down version, muddied by too many documentaries...

Went to see Animal Collective early last week. I had very, very high expectations for this concert (*danger Will Robinson, put those expectations aside*), as did the rest of the sold out Commodore crowd. The opener, Grouper, didn't have a great time of it. It is hard to grab the attention of a crowd wired to see the headliner with a one-woman band producing what I think was supposed to be a rather delicate ambient soundscape - hard to tell as it was totally lost in the chatter of the audience. I don't usually talk when a band is on stage, but even I gave up trying to listen and figure it out. Wrong venue, wrong gig for her.

As for Animal Collective - my thoughts have been all over the place on this one. They are a hard band to categorize (a good thing). My favorite album, Sung Tongs, is an inventive mix of samples, acoustic guitar, some afro-beat-ish drumming, and layered vocals. It grabs me in a similar way to the Books' Thought for Food does. The new album, Merriweather Post Pavillion, has more driving, beat-ridden tracks - also excellent, but in a pretty different way. So - what about the show? The energy was great, the lighting design was fun, but they just didn't quite soar to the levels I had hoped - and I was really hoping, and maybe my expectations were just too high. They just didn't seem tight enough on some tracks (Lion in a Coma really suffered), and you lost some of the beauty of their layered vocals, with Panda Bear's softer voice getting lost from time to time. That being said, I still really enjoyed it, and when they hit their stride they really did hit it well.I did take some videos, but my camera was having fits due to the flashing lights, poor thing.
Then came Grizzly Bear a couple of nights later. Brilliant, brilliant, brilliant. I loved it so much I can't really write about it sensibly. Their new album Veckatimest is fantastic - they have moved away somewhat from the low key ambience of Yellow House to something that has stronger rhythms, lush vocals and (gasp) some pretty hooky choruses. And it all came across brilliantly live. The vocal harmonies, Dan Rossen's sharp, bright guitar sound - oh forget it, I'm just going to sound like (more of) an idiot if I go on. Definitely one of the live music highlights of my year so far. Unfortunately, the security guards caught me taping during "While you Wait for the Others", a track I was really hoping to get on film (currently my fave track on the album, partly because of the rediculously hooky chorus, partly due to the elegantly controlled anger of the lyrics), but here are a couple of others instead. The only thing that could have made this night better for me is if they were playing a seated venue - the ambient crowd noise at the Commodore was bugging me, as per usual.

4 comments:

TM said...

Animal Collective vs. Grizzly Bear?
ULTIMATE ANIMAL KINGDOM SHOWDOWN. Also- super jealous that you saw Grizzly Bear. Glad to hear it was great. In other news...I will be seeing Dan Mangan again soon. Count it!

Rafael said...

Hey, hey, BunkleLife...

How can I contact you?

Rafael

BunkleLife said...

Hi Rafael - bunklelife@gmail.com! :)

ImportanceOfWhatever said...

good review. I just have a new love for Grizzly Bear. Still need to check out their new album, thanks for the reminder ;o)