Tag Archives: Panda Bear


Rostam Brings Debut Solo Album to Music Hall of Williamsburg

September 25th, 2017

The story of Rostam Batmanglij is one of continuation and staying on his creative toes. With an open mind and an open heart he’s thrown himself into each expression and partnership without getting bogged down. There was some level of redefinition in order when the instant but unsustainable starburst of his former band, Vampire Weekend, leveled out a bit, at least beyond their base following. But it was inevitable that he’d forge his own path. With inherent musical proclivity, it was just a matter of discovering new outlets. And he’s certainly found them. Along with lending his enlivening sense of melody and world rhythm to the production of acts including Frank Ocean, Charli XCX and Carly Rae Jepsen—and oh, by the way, writing original music for the reprise of Kenneth Lonergan’s classic Broadway play This Is Our Youth—Rostam struck collaborative gold last year when he buddied up with Walkmen frontman Hamilton Leithauser to gift us with the rollicking resplendence of I Had a Dream That You Were Mine (stream it below).

The volume of his work keeping him limber, he was prime to really hit a graceful, ground-covering stride on his first proper solo affair, Half-Light (stream it below). Just released this month, the effort carries that extraspecial glow and pop of every fifth firework. From the moment his Panda Bear–esque vocals sail into the album entrance of “Sumer,” a feeling of bright-eyed anticipation of what follows keeps afloat like an air-blasted ping pong ball. A youthful blend of vulnerability and moxie suspend in a seasoned weave of production that takes cues from all directions. There are even melodic allusions to the coiled-spring bop of Vampire Weekend, yet they’re shrewdly integrated, as in “Wood,” with cleanly bowed strings jumping into the gaps formed from the seductive Eastern percussion. When hearing the melodious, uplifting cheer of what can be construed as Rostam’s prideful retort to the chirping birds comes through his cry of “Please don’t let it get to you/ Even if you don’t realize it/ It’s still all up to you,” you’ll feel like running out buck naked to take on the world. He’s arrived at that point of confident eloquence, tightly embracing what made him and what moves him—and letting the tracks fall where they may.

Rostam once said that he’s interested in inclusion rather than exclusion, that his goal is to make music that can move anybody. His solo album easily surpasses this goal, and when performed live, the vibe pulses through the crowd. There’s that inestimable moment in time when a beloved honorary New Yorker who has contributed richly to this city’s music scene returns to play under a spotlight that is all his. That rare moment comes Wednesday at Music Hall of Williamsburg. You’ll be able to reach up and touch the electricity in the atmosphere on the night. Among the devoted and adoring Vampire Weekenders and newly blossomed fans of his duet album with Hamilton Leithauser, others, picked up along his musical path where the scenery has never been dull, will join in on the anticipation of a prolific artist, who many leap at the chance to work alongside, finally having his own moment in the spotlight. —Charles Steinberg | @Challyolly


Animal Collective Stretch the Limits at Brooklyn Steel on Tuesday

May 24th, 2017

Animal Collective – Brooklyn Steel – May 23, 2017

We have arrived at the stage where there is absolutely no telling what you’re going to get at an Animal Collective show. Essentially, they are the computer-generation equivalent of the Grateful Dead and Phish when it comes to live-performance unpredictability. Impulse and whim stir together with rote knowledge of every song in their nearly 15 years of recordings that have traveled through woods and rocketed into the space age. Their familiarity with one another’s moves from playing on- and offstage is such that the holy triumvirate of Avey Tare, Panda Bear and Geologist can wander off trail to blaze another, then find their way back without a compass. The collective experience akin to being tugged into velvet, open-lake waters, a first time water skier on their rippling currents of electronic sound.

Last night, Animal Collective swam about the confines of Brooklyn Steel like betas in a fish bowl, stretching the limits. Releasing a deluge of strawberry electro jams that oozed outward like they’d been left out in the sun, the band treated the opportunity as kids would a new neighborhood playground, sonically leaping and bounding and beckoning others to join in the frolicking. Over the course of the run of shows since releasing last year’s Painting With, it’s been each member at his control station of sound backed by a drummer. The character of their live performances, without fourth member Deakin, has then taken on the more cubic and elastic tone of Painting With, which didn’t feature Deakin.

From the quicksand of cosmic slop Animal Collective create emerged the type A–personality bounce of “FloriDada” and “Hocus Pocus,” and staying in that key, the wild bunch stretched out their legs on the subsequent The Painters EP by hurling “Peacemaker” into the room to bounce about in a manner resembling Atari’s Breakout. Avey Tare and Panda Bear’s vocal interplay formed a snake dance on “Lying in the Grass” before the gang took us back to older fare like “Summertime Clothes” and “Guys Eyes.” Songs melted into one another as an up-tempo trance-hop version of “Bees” spread over the sizeable room. On some of the set’s jumpier tunes, Tare came forth to dance loosely along with his animalistic vocal calls. When Animal Collective returned for the encore, it was to extend the evening for as long as they could hold their breath under their water world of experiments. Thanking friends and family for coming out to see them at a new playground, the band plunged back in, to the delight of all. On this night, Brooklyn Steel was where the wild things were. —Charles Steinberg | @Challyolly

Photos courtesy of Charles Steinberg | charlesosteinberg.com


Animal Collective Deliver in Spectacular Form at Terminal 5

November 3rd, 2016

Animal Collective – Terminal 5 – November 2, 2016

Animal Collective – Terminal 5 – November 2, 2016
There’s only one thing that could have competed with the Cubs finally winning the World Series (in extra innings of the seventh game, no less) last night and that was seeing Animal Collective do a serious deep dive at Terminal 5. For one thing, there’s the instinctively staggered vocal interplay between Avey Tare and Panda Bear, whose bird calls from an alternate universe boomerang in and out of one another’s in transfixing patterns. For another, there’s the fortitude of recreating and reshaping their recorded material with peerless imagination—and there are like nine other things that leave you speechless, a happy party to the wild rumpus that gradually builds into a human wave.

Terminal 5 turned into an aquarium of the rolling, swimming Animal Collective faithful last night, an ideal setting for the almost unfathomable set that drew broadly from their discography of distinct aural treasures now 13 years in the making. The wonderfully wacky impressionist art onstage immediately let you know who you were there to see, and older songs from masterpiece albums like Sung Tongs, Feels and Merriweather Post Pavilion filtered in to the set list. It all played like a warped journey into the group’s projected creativity, marvelous departures that danced and floated like a laundry line of sheets in the winds of their fancy. Particularly entrancing were long, winding plays of “Loch Raven,” which sent all into dreamland, and an electro-dub-warped variation of the originally acoustic “Kids on Holiday.” It’s really up in the air with a live Animal Collective set: There’s no telling from which corner of an album or obscure EP they’ll pull a song to play—or how the version will unfold and materialize.

The crowd was putty in Animal Collective’s hands by the time “FloriDada” hopped into the fold, sheets of vibrant light momentarily revealing a sea of swirling bodies. Through an expansive and extended performance, Avey Tare was the vocal intermediary, periodically checking in and engaging with playful banter. And when the band answered the enthusiastic roar for an encore, he let out a giggle of surprise and humility at the prolonged cheers. He, Geologist and Panda Bear delivered in spectacular form. Only when experiencing a show so voluminous do you recognize how much it transcends ordinary concert experiences. Expectations were toyed with and convention scattered like puzzle pieces and then placed in new order to reveal the land of their design, where colors and characters are at once deceptive and familiar. —Charles Steinberg | @Challyolly

Photos courtesy of Charles Steinberg | charlesosteinberg.com


Panda Bear Puts On a Balancing Act at The Bowery Ballroom

October 14th, 2015

Panda Bear – The Bowery Ballroom – October 13, 2015

The most captivating part of Panda Bear’s performance last night at The Bowery Ballroom (the first of three sold out shows) was not Danny Perez’s incredible video art— mesmerizing as that was, morphing from images of gummy worms to retro cartoon snippets to gyrating women dressed as reptiles—but instead the intricate interplay between Noah Lennox and his musical equipment.

While Lennox may have possessed a modest, unassuming presence as he settled in behind a table filled with his samplers and synthesizers, once he got the elaborate setup humming and began to sing, it became clear that Lennox was masterminding a dizzying process to create his sound. With songs like “Mr. Noah” and “Crosswords,” he sang with utmost focus, simultaneously looping and singing over his own vocals. It’s a unique process that boggles the mind of those less familiar with audio-production techniques, and despite the array of colors and both beautiful and unsettling images projected behind him, it continued to draw attention back to Lennox.

In addition to performing many pieces from his latest full-length release, Panda Bear Meets the Grim Reaper, Lennox performed some rare treats for discerning fans, including “This Side of Paradise” and “Untying the Knot,” from the Mr. Noah EP, as well as “No Man’s Land,” off the Crosswords EP. Up until the very last note of “Surfer’s Hymn,” during the encore, Lennox’s concentration didn’t appear to waver, caught up in the trance of crafting his music live, a balance of great technical skill while still connecting deeply to his songs’ emotional core. —Alena Kastin | @AlenaK


Panda Bear Plays New Material at Music Hall of Williambsurg

September 23rd, 2014

Panda Bear – Music Hall of Williamsburg – September 22, 2013

Panda Bear - Music Hall of Williamsburg - September 22, 2013
Flanked by two large blinking strobe lights, Panda Bear (Noah Lennox) stood behind an elaborate console last night at a sold-out Music Hall of Williamsburg. At times, as bright, undulating video projections (designed by longtime collaborator Danny Perez) beamed upon the stage, Lennox, in his white T-shirt, nearly blended in with his surroundings. Of course, even when overtaken by pulsing patterns and colors, Panda Bear commands attention, singing earnestly while managing to craft elaborate layers of sampled sound, manipulating beats and looping vocals.

A new full-length album, Panda Bear Meets the Grim Reaper, is slated for release later this year (although details are scarce), and Panda Bear performed several new tunes last night, mixing in a few crowd favorites from 2011’s Tomboy, like “Last Night at the Jetty” and “You Can Count on Me.” Many Panda Bear songs center around a repeated lyrical refrain, which Lennox sings over and over as music ebbs and flows around it, subtly shifting gears or abruptly changing course. As the projections flashed between disparate images—ice cream, lizard eyes, anemone, bunch of grapes, hypnotic dancing bald women—Lennox repeated the line, “Don’t ask why.”

It’s a treat to experience Panda Bear’s new material in the live format, where he seemed to relish the freedom to experiment and to witness the response from a crowd hearing the music with fresh ears. It shifted organically, ranging from haunting and spare to playful and pulsating, and although the grim reaper referenced in the upcoming album’s title did pay us a visit via projector, we emerged unscathed and fully entertained. —Alena Kastin

Photos courtesy of Lina Shteyn | www.linashteyn.com


Two Nights of Animal Collective at Terminal 5

December 4th, 2012

The four guys in Animal Collective—Josh Dibb (Deakin), Noah Lennox (Panda Bear), David Portner (Avery Tare) and Brian Weits (Geologist)—began playing music together in late-’90s Baltimore. They shared united interests in psychedelic folk and a wide range of musical genres, plus studio experimentation. But despite putting out albums—including side projects and solo efforts—since 2000, it wasn’t ’til the release of 2007’s Strawberry Jam and its ensuing tour that the four-piece really began to gain recognition. The spotlight didn’t cool down with their following release, Merriweather Post Pavilion, two years later, which received near universal acclaim. Deakin didn’t partake in the recording of that album or its tour, but now he’s returned to the band for their most recent LP, Centipede Hz (stream it below). Of course, with a new album comes a new tour, and Animal Collective (above, doing “Today’s Supernatural” last year at Celebrate Brooklyn at the Prospect Park Bandshell) play Terminal 5 tonight and tomorrow.


Panda Bear – Music Hall of Williamsburg – July 3, 2011

July 5th, 2011

Photos courtesy of Diana Wong | DianaWongPhoto.com


A Night of Remembrance and Electronic Music

September 13th, 2010


Panda Bear – The Beach at Governors Island – September 11, 2010

Earlier this month, Brooklyn Vegan interviewed Noah Lennox—known as Panda Bear and a core member of Animal Collective. Asked about September 11th, he recounted how on that day a woman informed him that the subway wasn’t running and pointed toward the sky where he could see a big pillar of smoke and the buildings on fire. To this day, the images and memories connected to that date are saddening and surreal. It’s difficult to remember how the city and its culture differed before the tragedy. However, with two luminous beams known as the Tribute in Light standing in the place of the towers, the city’s landscape is undeniably transformed, though a change in its people is more nuanced and complex.

For that reason, a fantastic lineup of experimental electronic musicians can play a seemingly perfect show at The Beach at Governors Island while underlying emotions cloud the experience. On Saturday night, fellow Animal Collective member Avey Tare opened with a DJ set followed by psychedelic bands Teengirl Fantasy and Gala Drop. Gala Drop, a relatively unknown group from Lisbon, where Lennox currently lives, opened at his request. The quartet’s trans-like jams were well received from those crowded around the stage. And the atmosphere they created was built upon and transformed when Panda Bear took the stage with a guitar-keys-and-sampler setup.

Lennox, known for sets that blend together old and new songs, played selections from his critically acclaimed third album, Person Pitch, like “Ponytail” and “Comfy in Nautica,” along with tracks from his forthcoming album, Tomboy. He also melded Animal Collective’s frantic “Guys Eyes” into a more mellow and melodic guitar-based version, which delighted the many AnCo fans in attendance. The set was beautifully constructed and the sound adapted to the large, outdoor space extraordinarily well. But, as the show came to a close and the crowd boarded ferries back to Manhattan, the sight of the Tribute of Light served as a powerful notice of what the day means. A beautiful late-summer concert reminded us that our experience of the present is colored and informed by remembrance of the past. —Jared Levy


Skip the Zoo and Still See Panda Bear

September 10th, 2010

Noah Lennox is one of the founding members of Animal Collective. (He and Dave Portner— Avey Tare—are the only members to contribute to all of the band’s releases.) Lennox performs as Panda Bear and usually sings and plays drums when Animal Collective performs live. But he’s been focusing on samples and electronica since 2007, when he did his entire third LP, the critically acclaimed Person Pitch, electronically. His next effort, Tomboy, departs from that somewhat, “with a heavy focus on guitar and rhythm” and “all the Baltimore R&B radio we used to ingest.” The disc is due out later this year, but Panda Bear (above, playing “You Can Count on Me”) has been doing tracks from it this summer. That tour brings him to The Beach at Governors Island on Saturday. But a ferry can bring you. Speaking of which, Governors Island ferries will begin running from Pier 11, at South Street and Wall Street, beginning at 6:00 p.m. There will be no concert ferries departing from the Battery Maritime Building.

(Avey Tare will do a DJ set and Teengirl Fantasy and Gala Drop open.)