Thursday, May 31, 2007

Animal Collective: The Granada Theater


I was a party to two conversations at the Granada on Saturday night that helped hammer home just how strange the phenomenon of Animal Collective really is. The first occurred some time in the middle of Sir Richard Bishop's set, when my friend turned 360 degrees and remarked "shit, there are a shitload of people here." And he was right. The rather large Granada Theater (with a capacity of roughly 1200) was probably more than 3/4 full (of mostly young hipsters) at 9pm, as a bearded middle aged man with an acoustic guitar sat onstage playing quiet, meandering Indian instrumental pieces.

The second conversation occurred during the middle of Animal Collective's overpowering set, when another friend turned to me and said, "I'm pretty disappointed with this so far." When I asked why, she explained that she was expecting something a little more straight forward, adding that they hadn't even played one of their "real songs" yet. And she was also right. Those whose love of Animal Collective is based mostly on 2005's Feels, as well as those who had never heard anything about AC's live M.O. before attending the show, were probably expecting something much different than they got on Saturday night. Aside from a somewhat tossed off version of "Leaf House" and a couple Panda Bear tracks that you may or may not have heard before, Animal Collective played entirely new material on Saturday, and according to some rumors, they might have even improvised most of the set due to equipment failure in Marfra the night before. The music was strange, new, and rather experimental, and there's no telling exactly why they decided to structure their set the way they did.

But whatever the reason, the music they performed at the Granada had more in common with Einsturzende Neubauten and Kraftwerk than Modest Mouse, and the prospect of such a band attracting a near capacity crowd at a large venue and keeping everyone interested for a full set is quite exciting. The Granada's sound, which I've complained about at least 15 times over the past year, was powerful and clear on Saturday, and AC used it to push all kinds of boundaries with texture, rhythm and electro noise as their weapons of choice. Worlds away from the avant folk of Sung Tongs or the warmer shades of Feels, Animal Collective's pieces were colder, more beat heavy and electronic than most of their recorded material, and the band relied on distorted noise build ups and sudden bursts of coherent bass and drum beats to set the audience up and knock em down like bowling pins several times throughout the set. Perhaps the most impressive thing about their collage of a set was the easy conveyance of joy that marked most of their music. Despite the loose structures of their pieces and the somewhat disorienting nature of the sounds they utilized, it was clear throughout that the band was having fun, not taking themselves too seriously, and well aware of the fact that most in the crowd were eating it up. The peak of the set came towards the end when the band began banging on live drums, sending the crowd into a frenzy and highlighting the power of their trance inducing rhythms and hyperactive craftsmanship.

Of course, I've seen some great experimental electronic sets this year, but what put AC's show over the top wasn't just the performance, but the reaction of the crowd. To see over 1,000 people cheer wildly for such adventurous music was very pleasing, and anyone in attendance who doubts whether an audience for this kind of music exists in Dallas (guilty as charged) was probably forced to rethink their position. I was sure this was the best show I'd seen all year about half way through the set, but what was so great was the crowd's roaring applause at the end, signaling that hundreds of people who might not have got what they bargained for apparently agreed with me.

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15 Comments:

Blogger Chris said...

their digital 8-track, which contained most of the samples they'd been using on this tour, definitely died in Marfa. we interviewed Noah Lennox prior to the show and he seemed pretty stressed about how the set would play out, as i don't think they'd ever performed some of those songs without it.

10:42 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

is SR unemployed now? lots more activity on here than usual lately.

11:06 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'll take SR over DL every single day!

11:13 AM  
Blogger doorbells said...

Great post.

2:03 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have a question or two for stoned ranger and defensive listening. I would love it if you gave me a serious answer. Why do the both of you like doing critiques on bands? I seriously don't understand what you get out of it. You don't get paid; not for we shot jr that I know of. The people who really benefit are everyone BUT you. Fans and musicians get something from it, but I don't see how you could possibly benefit from doing a piece on, say, Marnie Stern where you just bash on her. Or even a band you might like like Sebadoh or Kraftwerk or The Minutemen or whoever it is you like. It just doesn't make sense to me. Can you please tell me why reporters/journalists/the like write about music for free? It seems worse than dancing about architecture. It's more like dancing about architecture and having to pay to get into the club to dance to it.

-Serious

6:23 PM  
Blogger stonedranger said...

I think that "dancing about architecture" line really sucks. I'm sure everyone on here has read it five thousand times and gets the meaning behind it by now. Not to be a shit, but I've seen it on this blog alone at least 20 times.

serious answer: Why do you fly a kite? Or ride bikes? Or play music? Or do whatever it is you might do as a hobby? Probably just because you enjoy doing it, even if you can't really give a rational explanation as to why you spend time on it. Same thing applies here.

Also, I started this blog last year so that I could learn about any good stuff that might be going on in the area, and I also figured that if anyone started reading my blog, it would help promote the things I liked and maybe shift some focus away from the stuff I didn't, since none of the other local music news sources seemed to ever talk about anything interesting.

The result: I have learned about a lot of great bands, venues, and people that I didn't know were around before I started writing, and I've had a lot more fun in DFWd over the past 9 months or so as a result.

6:48 PM  
Blogger fred duong said...

not that two reviews are anything to call representative of animal collective's dallas reception, but here are two rather disappointed sounding writeups:
http://www.last.fm/user/MarquisDaniels/journal/2007/05/27/434951/
http://www.last.fm/user/pretensciousboy/journal/2007/05/31/438529/

and from my circle of vision, i could see people digging the show but not in any throes of ecstasy. certainly alot more motionless people than not. i might've had a tiny bit too high expectation of their live show (still think it was good), but i came away with the idea that they work better as a studio band. the hypnotic long tracks of electro tribal beats were awesome and unique, but the multiple layers got muddied and indistinguishable after a while.

9:52 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you for responding. I never thought about it that way. I especially liked what you had to say in the last 2 paragraphs. Thank you!

-serious

10:43 PM  
Blogger schmancy said...

awesome answer sr.

2:34 AM  
Anonymous real serious said...

someone stole my handle.

10:08 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

GOOD JOB SR!!!!!!! IMAGINE DOING SOMETHING BECAUSE U LIKE IT!!! AND NOT FOR MONEY!!!

STUPID FUCKING QUESTION IN MY OPINION!

10:58 AM  
Anonymous yahoo serious said...

Damn, mine too!

3:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

HOLY SHIT Marquis Daniels likes the Animal Collective?

8:18 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

fred,

as chris said, their digital 8-track was fked up. dallas was one of a few shows played with a laptop, and if you think THAT was muddied- it was pretty much straight up sound without half the manipulation they WOULDA scrambled up. I just can't see how people could like all their pre-feels cds while complaining about all the cool tones, or "noise"

10:05 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

people who love animal collective, and love to talk about animal collective, are generally huge pompous assholes.

8:52 AM  

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