Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Animal Collective at the Henry Fonday - 9.18

We arrived early on Hollywood Blvd. and got to the front of the line. I was excited about this show, being a fan of the Music Box and always relying on their good management. It is always a pleasure to go to AC shows since the fans are all share the same excitement and the same openness to each other and the music. Some twins in front of us were hopping up and down as the sun set and the line was formed in two before 8pm doors. Derek was heard during sound check and 5 minutes before doors video of the stage was thrown up onto the building adjoining so that the smokers ushered to the roof area could watch the show.

We were ushered in and made our way to the front to see a Social Distortion-like skeleton in a tutu hanging prominently at the back of the stage. It wasn't too long before the lights turned low and the first of two openers came out. Most of the fans were antsy enough to see their first AC show and the inevitable postponement through two acts was torture enough, at least, one would think so. But then Eric Copeland came out.

The risk that anyone takes with dabbling in the avant-garde is that you can easily find yourself in too deep. Animal Collective is admittedly novel and their music challenges conventions, blah blah blah. But, part of their genre easily gets deposited into the unapologetic bastard art of "pure sound." Eric Copeland was a fine example of this: his show began with overbearing cacophonous noise, unsupported by differentiations of tone, and continued on that way through thirty unforgiving minutes. There was no rhythm, there was no melody, there was nothing decipherable within his noise experiment that warranted the name music. He received mixed reactions from the crowd, but mostly negative. Those who cheered and put forth superficies of enjoyment simultaneously displayed their unabashed pretense.

But the night continued with little hope for a better act to follow. Stage hands came out and brought a semi-circular screen up to the front of the stage and began to set up instruments behind it. A band that takes such measures to separate themselves from their audience ought to give serious consideration to the qualities of their craft and the essence of art in general. Wizard Prison soon came out in robes and with visual display, appearing as shadows instead of men. The music was no less offensively untalented and any melodic song consisted in pedantic patterns that repeated themselves endlessly. Again, the crowd seemed to enjoy the novelty more than any virtue that lay in the artform. Someone in front of me tried to silence the objectors with appeals to "positive thinking" and "artistic license." He used earlier Animal Collective as his soapbox as if to say, "despite their maturation to the more melodic, AC is no different from that which offends your ears now." I wasn't convinced.

After an hour and a half escaped me forever, AC soon came on. The hanging ballerina skeleton was joined by two three-dimensional ones on stage, with matching tutus and light-up eyes. The band started Dancer, a new song, that gave a calming effect to the opposed crowd. Soon we were more unified in our admiration for these men on this stage and they brought us to a middle ground through the balance of dissonance, melody, tonality and ambience. This wasn't to last too long, however, as the rhythmic pulsing of Peacebone brought the crowd to riotous activity. The set was different from the first two times I saw them this summer. Next to each of their large monitors, which stood in the back like sentinels, were LED light bars, multi-colored, bright and somewhat overpowering. The band played for a full hour and a half ending close to 1AM. They played with energy and delight. The crowd took it in with enthusiasm and respect as they heard new and old. The sound at the Music Box was off, however, and there were moments of discomfort as high-end parts viciously assaulted the ear.

Were it not for the two opening bands, the evening could have been more worthwhile and much more enjoyment could have been put into AC's fantastic set. However, since this was not the case, I found my soul exhausted by the time they took the stage and when AC started Fireworks, my excitement was not what I had expected and I realized my emotional attenuation. I was sapped of vigor and could not enjoy so well the band to which I devoted my time, only to have it sabotaged by hangers-on, frauds and snobs. I don't blame AC. But, like always, I blame LA.

Dancer
Peacebone
Song for Ariel
Am I Real
Leaf House
Chores
Walk Around (With You)
Material Things / Little Girl (I Don't Need)
Unsolved Mysteries
Brother Sport
#1
Fireworks/Splode/Fireworks
Who Could Win a Rabbit

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