Review: Animal Collective at Prospect Park

One fear gripped me as I walked past the winding queue that formed for Animal Collective. Would they neuter the bass on “My Girls” as they had in this 2008 Coachella performance? The blogosphere concerned itself with the teeny bopper presence or Panda Bear’s reported departure (which is evident after one sit down with Person Pitch), but I just wanted my favorite track from Merriweather Post Pavillion to be in top form. Granted, it will still be nice to scream heartfelt feelings about “adobe slabs” along with shaggy flanel shirt wearers and inked gals sporting vintage dresses, but I want the bass bouncing beside me when that happens. Like your roommate who downloads flicks weeks before they’re released, I shall do away with suspense and tell you that Animal Collective delivered a bass filled dance party that 2 Live Crew would have been proud of.

This was the second performance of their two day stint at the Prospect Park bandshell, and the trio of David Porter (Avey Tare), Brian Weitz (Geologist) and Noah Lennox (Panda Bear) didn’t fail to lift spirits. Their cardboard aquatic back drop was designed by Avey’s sister, Abbey Portner, and featured  moving waves patroled by a fearsome shark with jaws wide open and a red tongue beckoning potential skinny dippers. This was book ended by two fungi-shaped tiki huts that twinkled to the beat.

They started slowly with “Grace”, but the latter half of that track erupts into a wave of manipulated flute samples which pied pipered the crowd into a steady bounce. Then the riff of “Summertime Clothes” dropped from the line. The one that sounds like it’s chasing you down a narrow hall. Once the shrieking melodies of Avey and Panda melded together for the chorus, all I could see were smiles affixed to twirling bodies and outstretched hands. Isn’t the Girl Talk show this Sunday? This was an odd amount of dancing for a NY crowd, but I just rolled with it and followed the rhythm the palms on my back provided. Even the bouncing didgeridoo of “Lion In A Coma” (the last of three encores) summoned everyone’s inner marsupial.

Throughout the organized mayhem, Avey paced the stage with a mic in one hand and a drumstick in the other. He sung with his whole body and was always ready for the timely cymbal crash. Panda stood guard, barely moving from his keys and samplers. He’s the Matt Sharp of the group, delivering graceful backing vocals and showing his own prowess while leading “Comfy In Nautica”. Geologist was a bobbing lighted cyclops, anchored to his machines. You couldn’t see his manipulations, but he might have been the most energetic of the three. When “My Girls” came on, I was elated to hear crisp bass and every word roaring from the audience. Every thing was in it’s right place.

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– Phillip Nguyen


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