Transforming the confines of the Fonda Theatre into some bizarre carnival of psychedelic extravagance, Baltimore-trio Animal Collective gave fans a sensory overload drawn straight from the depths of their extensive discography. As the creative engines behind the group, Geologist, Avery Tare, and Panda Bear stood onstage illuminated by chromatic beams of light and the outlandish structures that towered behind them. A reference to their recent release, the lucidly eccentric Painting With, each of the twisted busts behind the trio were meant to be an abstract portraiture of each artist–by the end of the night, it was hard to tell which was which.
Opening with the lush, zig-zagging drones of “Lying in the Grass,” AnCo’s entire set pushed the bubbling anxiety of their song’s dulcet crescendos and haphazard beats into the crowd’s frontal lobe. Frenzied and uncertain, fans had no choice but to give in to the gleefully disarming rapport of the group’s adrenaline-junkie melodies. From their more tamed compositions, like the soothing, staccato sermon in “Vertical” and “Summing the Wretch,” to their more erratically intense medleys, as with the vehement surges of synthesizer/vocalizations in “The Burglars”–AnCo was a carnival of zealous emotions and played like they had something to prove.
But the night was not just a celebration of Painting With–opening up the razzle-dazzle that was Merriweather Post Pavilion, the trio proceeded to play lavish hits such as “Daily Routine.” They ended their pre-encore set with the illustriously groovy “Golden Gal.” Tare kept every soul transfixed with his shimmering cries, as his companions conjured up the track’s delicious stuttered percussion. Returning for a three song encore that included what is definitively AnCo’s next “My Girls,” Panda Bear and Geologist elicited all the zany jubilance from their instruments of psychedelia in “FloriDada,” whilst Tare’s lightning quick wails piled atop one another like blown-out filters. AnCo urged the crowd to one final tremulous exertion of corked energy, with a carnally liberating execution of unpolished experiments. In both sound and style, the trio’s live shows remain one of the few artistic performances that transcends nearly every sense and leaves you exhilaratingly confused in its aftermath.
Foreshadowing the wild night to come with their gritty, chaotic hip-hop sound was Ratking, a NY based collective comprised of Patrick “Wiki” Morales, MC Hak, and Sporting Life. Simultaneous raw and bitingly articulate, Ratking was more than just a fresh opener, they gave the crowd a mercilessly impassioned taste of their cut-up rhymes and beats.
Words: Steven Ward
Photography: Danielle Gornbein