A Trippy First Night of Animal Collective

December 5th, 2012

Animal Collective – Terminal 5 – December 4, 2012

Back in early October, if you listened very closely, you could almost hear entire parts of Brooklyn collectively sighing upon hearing the news that Animal Collective’s Williamsburg Waterfront show was cancelled. All right, so maybe that’s not entirely true, but luckily for fans, the band is back in New York City to make good on their earlier reservation, playing two nights at Terminal 5 with a healthy Avey Tare and an extra month of touring behind them.

Last night Animal Collective performed before a setting of ever-changing Day-Glo colors, in what looked something like a live-action interpretation of the cover of their latest album, Centipede Hz. Although the band sampled heavily from the new LP, a few Merriweather Post Pavilion favorites also found their way into the set. Moments between tracks were filled with lengthy improvisational segues. At times it felt like their songs sprouted organically from the band tinkering away at the instruments. The audience lost it when a few yelps from the beginning of “Brother Sport” weaseled into the drawn-out ending of “Monkey Riches,” teasing fans that a favorite was on its way. “Brother Sport” has evolved substantially since its recorded version, becoming much more drawn out live. By the time it hit its repetitious catchy hook in the middle of the song, the bass became extra heavy, as if to ensure the hypnotic hook was drilled deep into the listeners’ subconscious.

And even with all the crazy multicolored projections barraging the senses, it was still plenty entertaining to watch psych spelunker Geologist, with his signature headlamp, rocking out onstage—with the severity of his head-banging serving as the best indicator of the music’s intensity. Animal Collective grew up huge fans of the Grateful Dead, and without going overboard with the comparisons, there’s plenty the two bands have in common: From a superdevoted fan base to the improvised nature of their live shows, history might look back at Animal Collective as a continuation of many Deadhead traditions. We’ll just have to wait to see how the rest of their career unfolds, but what a long strange trip it’s been so far. —Dan Rickershauser

Photos courtesy of Sean O’Kane |

(Animal Collective play Terminal 5 again tonight.)