Turning the Fox Theatre Pomona into a certifiable funk zone, Glass Animals made their Coachella side-show stop in between the two-weekend festival and they showed little to no signs of fatigue. Between the disco-ball-pineapple that hung from the ceiling and lead singer Dave Bayley’s leg brace (he was nurturing a hurt foot with the only remedy he obviously knew: dance), the band’s trippy-pop beats were potent from the very start as they opened with the lush grooves of “Life Itself.” Two songs in and Bayley had brought out a stool to sit on, explaining that he reluctantly would have to take breaks between songs–but not thirty seconds into “Hazey,” he was back up again waving his arms around and dancing with his band mates.
Live, the soulfulness of Glass Animals’ typically weird, psychedelic harmony of funky synths and Bayley’s helium croons are much more animated than they are in the studio. Forever danceable tracks dot their discography but when you put them in a dance hall and ask them to play music, you’re not just asking for a concert, you’re inciting a riotous explosion of melodic gooeyness. Blowing out their speakers and filling the Fox with the off-kilter sonics of their feral percussion, Bayley moves by example, dancing with his eyes closed and moving in perfect synchronicity with the music. With a guitar over his shoulder, he’s no different, leaning over the edge of the stage and ripping through the tastiest Iicks with gusto. With the pounding reverberation of their drums and synths colliding with your ear drums, the movement that Glass Animals’ require of their fans is offered in tribute almost involuntarily–the fact is you can’t be in the same room as them without moving your ass.
Psychedelic rock duo Jagwar Ma opened the night with the distorted, acid-washed tunes that sound like they were collected haphazardly at a flea market. Coming through the use of vintage drum machines, tricky sampling, and either the most compulsively strange or subtly brilliant use of synthesizers, Jagwar Ma trades melody for the experience. But far from being the weird krautrock band that plays in your neighbor’s garage, the meandering background noise orchestrated by Jono Ma is glued together by the deceptively addictive nature with which you hang on Gabriel Winterfield’s vocals. It’s like someone took a 90’s rock band and stripped them down–down to their bones–and asked them to play over Animal Collective instrumentals. But in their eccentric pursuits, Jagwar Ma have that coveted knack for making any beat or kooky melody just so damn deliciously groovy.
Words & Photography: Steven Ward