Wednesday, September 23, 2009


Wednesday, November 22, 2006
The Corner

A band not promoting a recently-released album (though a live album Hollinndagain was re-released last week), made for a welcome change of intention for this, Animal Collective's first Melbourne show. Fans flocked from far and wide to experience this (some came from Hobart and Perth) so the mood during DJ Shits & Giggles vibe-establishing noise set is an excitable one. Indeed the crowd are largely the RMIT arts department, most of Mess and Noise, half the Melbourne indie-band scene and some record store workers.

Iron golem of the processed bass frequency Oren Ambarchi opens proceedings with some of the more speaker-troubling bass that The Corner has ever experienced; a welcome change to ears accustomed to the sanctioned treble of a laptop. Beginning with the occasional pluck of his heavily customised guitar, any semblance to the actual sound of a guitar is calmly processed the fuck out as he gently turns knobs and operates pedals ensuring that a very present, very carefully constructed warm blast envelopes the crowd and vibrated sternums everywhere. Over the course of his set layers of sound and decaying signal build up to a sustained harmonic pulse of distortion that pleased punters from the inside out. A brief raise of the guitar and the master of mindful tone manipulation is gone.

Quite how Animal Collective will translate their recordings to a live domain is a process that intrigues more than the odd punter. Will they be all faces-down-and-press-the-button regurgitation? Smaller-scale Flaming Lips-like theatricality? Bizarro rock with a hirsuite sample-triggerer? Well, yes to all of those, but yes to a LOT more.

As Oren Ambarchi shows, the mix is phenomenally good and thankfully does justice to the intricate use of layering, but those looking for a recreation of the moments of pastoral grace that inhabit their most recent non-live album Feels, could easily have been disappointed. If anyone was though, they weren't showing it because from the second the band calmly stride onto the stage, projections adorning both walls, guitarist Deaken with a mask and plastic gerbers sprouting from his head, signal-processor Geologist with a miner's torch and a string of illuminated bones, singer and guitarist Avey Tare and drummer Panda Bear, we are with them. They later explained this dress up as their compensating for missing Halloween on the flight over, though we know their propensity for masks and weirdness, and this was obviously just a very valid excuse.

Much of the environmental recordings, whose subtleties arelost tonight, are sacrificed for voice and guitar signal generation, much of it filtered through Geologist's mixers and processors, often worked like a DJ.
Songs were segued, rebuilt, jammed and deconstructed which gave others, such as the almighty Purple Bottle, Grass, and the breathless set closer We Tigers the feel of towering giants of tight experimental pop. What comes across so clearly tonight is their love for vocal manipulation. Scatting and toning smoothly morphed into a disconcertingly weird acoustic funfair, a hallmark that helped project their individual characters, which they also did through their constant physical movement, all with barely a word to the crowd. This loosely-reined experimentalism, occasionally tempered by whatever passes as a pop sensibility these days is a joy to behold. As is Panda Bear, who plays standing up with just an upright bass drum, piccolo snare, hi-hat and crash was a crowd favourite, the occasional crashing of the otherwise wonderful projections at precisely the wrong moments was hilarious so too the small purple glowing skull they brought along.

Avey Tare, who lost his voice part way through their Brisbane show was obviously giving it his all and his distinctive vocal style, seeming to hit the "right" note by accident, when not wailing, scatting, bellowing or cooing was a truly uninhibited performer and their encore Kids On Holiday proved that indeed all of them could lose it equally convincingly, and smile with just as much conviction when heading backstage.

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