"You Carry the Dead" bloomed from quiet and clean strings to include Deradoorian's velvety voice. The audience chattered over the track, but Deradoorian remained un-phased, pushing forth her hypnotic soundscapes.
David Portner (Avey Tare) and the rest of Animal Collective slipped onto the dimly lit stage and assembled around their instruments. The group's complex, psychedelic stage trimmings came to life. Six cushioned screens, which resembled teeth, stood aligned on either side of the stage, catching rhythmic patterns of projected light. A large circular screen positioned at the back of the stage did the same, while conical, pointed curls of wire-supported fabric encircled the screen, glowing and pulsing with Animal Collective's music rendered in photon form.
"Amanita," from 2012's "Centipede Hz," showed the audience Animal Collective's return to traditional-sounding instrument work. Brian Weitz (Geologist) wore a small headlamp and stood before an array of samplers and electronics obfuscated by the dim light. Geologist bobbed his head with the dips and crashes of "Wide Eyed" as it melded into "Did You See the Words?" from 2005's "Feels."
"New Town Burnout" grew from a clicking sample as Noah Lennox (Panda Bear) dropped a thick bass beat over the high-treble pastiche of the track. Tare's vocals danced atop the over-worked, distorted piano. Tare's vocals, while spot on, were soggy with too much reverb for my tastes.
"Monkey Riches" stuttered with a repeating bongo sample. Tare screamed, "I don't want to knock you down, but why am I still looking for a Golden Age?" The vocals expanded and contracted over the shifting floor of the track, proving that Animal Collective's studio work and its live show are two entirely different, worthy beasts.
Because of this, Animal Collective's experimental live play can cause cognitive dissonance. This seems to be part and parcel to the purpose of the live show: to foster uncertainty in the listener, to keep the audience on its toes and never too complacent in expecting what they are meant to hear.
Now, this can be a bummer when a song is too "jammed-out," or when Tare and Co. decide to manipulate a favorite part of a particular song, but overall, it is a treat to compare and contrast the live with the recorded on each song, and think to oneself, "Wait a minute..."
"Lion in a Coma," "Today's Supernatural" and "Brother Sport" impressed with power and more invention. Tare delivered "Today's Supernatural's" lyrics with staccato precision over the song's up-tempo Latin yet Gothic style.
Animal Collective returned with "Moonjock" from "Centipede Hz." The track stood much messier than the studio version, but nicely contrasted Animal Collective's new work with the older as "The Purple Bottle" rose from the darkness of the track's smothered and tapered end. The confessional lyrics, "Got to crush the high, thought I crushed all I can...you get that, whoo!" rounded at Animal Collective's encore with a stab of nostalgia and dynamic final rises.
As I stepped out into the cool night, a young man proposed to a woman on the curb of Delmar near the entrance of the Halo Bar. The crowd cheered as the woman said, "Yes," and the kneeling youth lingered a moment before slipping the ring on and standing to offer his betrothed a kiss.
As I walked away, I remembered that this particular Animal Collective show was originally scheduled for last March, but the band experienced health problems and rescheduled.
Had the witnessed proposal also been likewise rescheduled? Who knows. Even better, would the proposal have even ever happened had Animal Collective played its original March Pageant date? Probably, at some point, but I resigned myself to the fact that I could never truly know. But I was happy with this uncertainty, because every possibility still existed. I mean, one can guess, interpret and smile at the possibilities (of everything), but just like Animal Collective's sound, live show, intentions and future plans, there are no givens, no certainties, just invention.
The beauty of life (and music) resides in such uncertainty, in the little 'what ifs' between songs.