BEING THERE: Animal Collective @ Union Transfer


As of this writing, Animal Collective is midway through a sold out two-night supercalifragilisticexpialidocious double-freak-out at Union Transfer. Last night, the band took the audience on a mind-melting supersonic trip that seemed to violate all the laws of the time and space, presenting something that was closer to quantum physics than cosmic indie-rock. The sold out crowd seemed well-prepped for the trip, some having donned lurid halloween costumes and consumed the requisite pharmaceuticals.

Near the lip of the stage where I stood last night, the crowd gave the man in the long white nightgown and old lady mask a wide berth for him to get his freaky-deaky on. Last night also provided ample proof that Animal Collective concerts are not just for the young and reckless: At one point, the dad-jeaned guy to my right, who appeared to my untrained eyes to be tripping his tits off, turned to me, mouth agape and pupils the size of cantaloupes, and asked, in slurred syllables, just where in the hell his wife went. I dunno, I said, the Fourth Dimension?

Last night’s 12-song, 90-minute set drew liberally from more recent recordings (Centipede Hz, Merriweather Post Pavilion, and Fall Be Kind EP) delivering a luminous, polyrhythmic medley of their most crowd-pleasing, bliss-inducing numbers, rendering the show accessible to even the most casual fan— not always a guarantee at an Animal Collective show.  Songs like “My Girls” and “Brothersport” were like Ecstasy for the ears, and had the room wiggling like a giant bucket of night crawlers.

Lead singer Avey Tare (aka David Portner) yelped into a microphone filtered to make his voice sound alternately like he was calling from Neptune or singing from somewhere inside the sub-oceanic wreck of the Titanic. Drummer Panda Bear (aka Noah Lennox), the locomotive behind Animal Collective’s crazy train, built looping freak-beats from behind the drum kit. Long-and-lanky bassist Deakin (aka Josh Dibb) brought the sub-woofer frequencies while whirling around like Chuck Berry duckwalking in the parking lot of a Phish concert.  Geologist, donning his trademark headlamp, nodded in time with the beat of the music like a bobble-headed DJ at a Burning Man rave, dropping psychotropic samples of sounds from the records that cannot be replicated live and trippy keyboard magic into the mix.

At one point, Avey Tare paused to thank the jam-packed audience and slyly added “I hope everyone’s still feeling good” — a veiled utterance of concern that no trippers had wandered off to the dark side of the moon.  Not to worry, Mr. Tare, feeling good was easy, whether concertgoers decided to intensify their experiences with drugs or not.

The stage set matched the other-worldliness of the music: two rows of inflatable teeth on the top and bottom of the stage with the eye-dazzling projections of frenetic, iridescent fractals and retro-fitted retro cartoons. Essentially, the band played inside a giant psychedelic mouth as seen on the cover of Centipede Hz, which made for utterly arresting visuals that, like the band itself, never lost the capacity to wow even after staring at it for 90 minutes. — MARY LYNN DOMINGUEZ

Set list after the jump

What Would I Want? Sky
Rosie Oh
Wide Eyed
My Girls
Newtown Burnout
The Purple Bottle