I’m pretty sure I’ve only read one review of Animal Collective’s live show. I’m also pretty sure that that review was negative (horrible even) and should deterred me from attending their stop at Milwaukee’s Riverside Theater, but since the keys are tap tap taping you better believe that I didn’t. How could I? For one, a couple of years ago it would have been nearly impossible to see them without driving to Chicago or Minneapolis and secondly, this years Merriweather Post Pavilion has been causing permanent ear damage since it’s January release. Needless to say, I was excited to hear songs that have made me as elated as the arrival of the first Spring day after an extended winter but also nervous about the possibility of being frozen, dumbfounded, in the crowd while inescapable and unfamiliar noises laced with unintelligible chants made me wish I had brought ear plugs.
But when the 2nd #9 was empty and “In the Flowers” started to ooze from the stage (> a giant glowing sphere dangled above them while behind them, the trippy green alien blood droplets of MPP’s cover acted as a backdrop) a slight perma-smile started to take shape. This may be my favorite song of the year and even though the sound in the room was too loud and the bass deep enough to make my heart palpitate with each pulse, I liked how it translated. While I was pleasantly surprised that most of the material played was culled from this years critically acclaimed release (the bouncing, sweaty, and bearded hip kids up front too) the highlight of the evening had to be “Fireworks” from 2007’s Strawberry Jam. It was 13 or so minutes of harmonic bliss and emotion that live, easily trumped its version on record. It’s a song that gets stuck in your head, makes you frantically bob your head, and scream along the lyrics. I did all that on this evening and I loved it! Other musical highlights: “Banshee Beat” “Comfy in Nautica” “What Would I Want Sky” (new song) and “Leaf House”.
Post show, Gentle John and I discussed how we were both pleased that we stood up front. Even though I had a hard time hearing this discussion, it was nice to be able to move freely. Many times at the shows most jolly moments, “Brother Sport” for instance, I hopped along in a sea of happy music lovers while the seated appeared paralyzed. I’d a been jealousJ had we not gotten lucky and allowed wrist-bands from a very friendly Riverside employee.
Overall, I was extremely impressed by the three guys that hovered over their white cloth covered machines that made loud noises. It would have been nice to see what they were doing up there but I guess they only came to dominate one of our senses.