I’m an Animal Collective fanboy. If that wasn’t obvious, I want to make sure you know right now before the rest of the post. Everything they do, and have ever done, I’ve loved. Is it a bias? Maybe. But seriously, they are one of my all time favorite bands. So when I saw that Panda Bear would be headlining a show with fellow member Deakin, along with Prince Rama and DJ Dog Dick, I couldn’t resist.
When I finally got to the Ottobar, we were a bit early, but it filled up mighty quickly. DJ Dog Dick played to about a 60% capacity. I’ve never been a DJ Dog Dick fan. He has this whole “theatrical” antic thing to him, and combining that with his abrasive noise, it just doesn’t really mesh, but with no disrespect to him, it wasn’t who I went to see that evening.
Prince Rama, who I saw at this years Whartscape before Future Islands blew me away, were incredible. Before the show, they handed out miscellaneous percussion instruments to the crowd to add to their eastern Indian vibe. Had some pretty intense hand clapping going on as well (didn’t fade out for essentially the entire song) which showed the crowd was into it.
Deakin took to the stage around 10 I believe. This was the fourth time that I’ve seen him this year, and everytime his sound becomes more entrenched in drone noises and heavy bass, and this was no exception. His hour long set had a few songs I could remember, but overall it seemed generally new. Lyrically, he still is darker then what we traditionally think of when we listen to Animal Collective or Panda Bear, with his baritone vocals yelping “I’m holding up, I’m holding up, I’m weighted down” and “I’m on my own.” Definitely a feeling of isolation and darkness. The song I enjoyed most however, was a simple two minute song with essentially his guitar and vocals and reminded me of “Bees” from Feels. I heavily await news on any sort of release from him as its been interesting to see it develop since January.
At around 11:30, Panda Bear took the stage. It was incredible. He opened with a future Tomboy jam, “Drone” which describes it perfectly. An organ-sounding synth line as Lennox repeats his lines “Now I say again/Now I know again.” It quickly developed into a slowed down version of Merriweather Post Pavilion favorite “Daily Routine” with the circus organ in the song never taking a break and him alternative speeds between lines. Another old favorite was the early version of “Guys Eyes” entitled “Song for Ariel” based off of a Fleetwood Mac Zombies sample. It adds a more reverb soaked feel then the album version as Panda croons “I really want to do just what my body wants to.”
The soundboard was perfect for the evening in the often iffy Ottobar. The highs were high, the lows were low and Panda’s vocals were heard perfectly. Also another notable part was Danny Perez’s [ODDSAC director] visuals that played throughout. Combining scenes from ODDSAC, the occasional abstract mess, and various stock clips, he added a whole new element to the show. It particularly came to a clear when live fan favorite “Surfer’s Hymn” was played, with the beachy images being brought into the projector, cross faded into the mix. Another old jam, the first one he played from Person Pitch was “Ponytail” which started out with a pitch-shifted version of the riff, that changed into normalcy.
“Last Night at the Jetty” came to a climax for the night as Panda repeated the “I know, I know, I know…” line, and when everyone moved to the “Try”‘s of “Comfy in Nautica.” Panda overall seemed really relaxed and comfortable in this setting, which was a major grievance of his performance in North Carolina at Hopscotch Festival earlier in the month. He played his upcoming single “You Can Count on Me” with its heavy bass-bass-clap-bass line combined with the swirling guitar that has been featured in so many of the songs from the “Tomboy Era.” He returned for an encore of the b-side for the aforementioned song, “Alsatian Dam” which keeps a fairly simple melody backed by a fairly prominent dubby King Tubby sample before he called it a night.
The entire night was astounding for a hardcore Animal Collective fan such as myself. Getting to see Deakin’s song evolution and hearing the new Panda Bear songs, which were a completely new experience from the bootlegs. Also, ending the night with a number 1 combo meal from Taco Bell and refreshing Mountain Dew Baja Blast is quite nice (no product placement intended, it really was awesome). If you have the opportunity to see Panda Bear, please do so, but apparently, you should see him at a small intimate venue such as our home away from home on Howard Street, as his festival experiences leave much to be desired.
Also, thanks Jeff for the ride. ❤