August 10, 2022
Photos by Raymond Ahner
Few artists have a truly unique and identifiable sound, where you can tell who the artist is just by the first few seconds of a song. Animal Collective is one of those artists, and that was made clear during the opening seconds of their first song at the Warfield theater on Wednesday night. The lush reverb-heavy guitars, the jazzy backbeat, and the dreamy vocals of “Royal and Desire” proved to be the perfect way to open the show. With a stellar lead vocal from Avey Tare and plenty of great call-and-response backing vocals from Panda Bear, the piece really set the mood for the rest of the evening.
Next up, was a more upbeat song in the form of “Unsolved Mysteries,” which rode a heavily distorted and echo-laden guitar line along with plenty of interesting synthesizer lines from Geologist and Deakin (for the record each member of Animal Collective uses a unique stage name). Few bands are able to take non-musical noises and bits and build such an interesting musical piece quite the way Animal Collective does.
Animal Collective is known for trying out new material while on tour, and that was the case as the band launched into the groovy “Gem and I,” a song that may appear on a future studio album. For now, the song is a free-form jam based on a unique chorus-heavy guitar figure and a stellar vocal performance from Panda Bear, consisting of plenty of unique harmonies with Avey Tare. With plenty of psychedelic lights and figures behind the band, the whole show had a hazy, dream-like feel to it.
After a few more songs of new material from their latest album, Time Skiffs, the band rolled out another piece of new material in the form of “Genie’s Open,” another rolling collage of trance-like keyboard, swinging bass, and vocal harmonies. As the song continued, the looseness of the whole thing became apparent as the band began to jam on the main bass figure and completely changed the tone and of the song, the mark of a very talented and tight group.
A few songs later, Deakin strapped on an electric 12-string to play the opening to “Bluish,” a song from the band’s legendary Merriweather Post Pavilion album, which elicited a huge roar from the crowd. Like all of the band’s classics, “Blueish” featured a dense collage of sound and intricate vocal harmonies from Avey Tare and Panda Bear throughout the song’s progression.
After a brief break, the band came out for a three-song encore which featured a particularly dreamy version of “Screens” and a grooving rendition of “Wide Eyed”.
Animal Collective has been making some of the most innovative and unbelievable music for over 20 years now, and as a live unit the band has never sounded better. With the addition of Deakin to the touring lineup and Panda Bear taking up drum duties, they’ve never sounded so vibrant and so vital.
Setlist: Royal and Desire | Unsolved Mysteries | Gem and I | Car Keys | Dragon Slayer | Genie’s Open | Cherokee | Chores | Applesauce | Defeat (A Not Suite) | Bluish | Strung With Everything || Encore || Screens | Wide Eyed | For Reverend Green