Animal Collective / First Nation
Neumo's; Seattle, WA

As I walked into the overcrowded
venue, the first thing I noticed was the band on stage. Three women will
always make a man turn his head, but in this case it was the music that
grabbed my attention--and not in a positive, "What is this?" tone but more in
an annoyed, "What is THIS?" tone. And I wasn't alone. First Nation was in the
midst of their set, and no one, not even the hipster dufusses, were into the
performance. This was a band that had listened to 7" of respectable noise
bands and thought they could replicate those sounds and that energy. Sadly,
they can't and--I have to be straight ahead with all of you--I don't think
they ever will. Maybe there is something salvageable on a plastic disc or
vinyl wax, but in a live setting these ladies couldn't pass the test with an
open and lively crowd. Most of the crowd couldn't muster applause after each
track, and the only round of cheering came when First Nation exclaimed how
cool Animal Collective was for having them open, housing them on Paw Tracks,
and giving them the gift of watching Animal Collective perform each and every

It was a relief when First Nation exited stage left and the boys of Animal
Collective started piecing together their rig. For a moment I thought First
Nation may have been some joke or a way to make Animal Collective's
performance seem glorious by default, but I was soon to realize that Animal
Collective needs no propping. From note one, the band immediately commanded
attention. The disgruntled noises from Geologist's set-up came in every
direction, and the show began on a high note. The band slipped from one song
to the next seamlessly and we, the crowd, hardly noticed. Animal Collective
didn't shy away from mixing in songs no one could recognize (and lord do I
hope those songs appear sooner rather than later in a studio form) along with
songs from older releases when Animal Collective wasn't technically Animal
Collective. Again, the crowd didn't give two shits about not recognizing songs
(except for the putzes behind me who exclaimed "Finally! It's about time,"
when AC launched into "Grass," as the set died down); they were more into the
show and the sound itself.

If you've never seen Animal Collective live, it's hard for me to sum up the
onslaught of sight and sound. I'll try to put it this way for those of you who
have experimented with drugs: take some LSD or smoke as much pot as you can
without feeling sick and/or throwing up. Crank up your stereo as loud as you
can stand it--and the more speakers you can place around the room in varying
positions the better. Concentrate on the same spot or item for as long as you
can while taking in the waves of sound that surround you. You'll start to hear
things you've never noticed before, and you'll start to question your sanity.
Are you really hearing voices? Was that a guitar or a synth that made that
noise, or are you starting to crack? Is the face of the Avey Tare starting to
melt? Who said that!? These thoughts rushed in and out of my head all evening,
and I wasn't under the influence of any drugs or alcohol. Then it dawned on
me: I wish I knew stereotypical Grateful Dead/Phish fans so I could bring them
to see Animal Collective--they'd never touch a drug to listen to music again.
Listening to Animal Collective amounts to one giant trip.

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