Live Review: Animal Collective, Daniel Higgs @ the Ottobar (2009.05.09)


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MP3: Animal Collective – Who Could Win A Rabbit

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MP3: Animal Collective – Summertime Clothes

Animal Collective’s cult-like status was built on elements like their masked press photos and indecipherable lyrics, but the stuff of legend was found in their live performances. For all previous tours, the trio would use their live shows to preview tracks from upcoming releases…which is why anybody who saw them tour off of Strawberry Jam probably heard “My Girls” before it was remixed by a thousand DJs. Furthermore, interviews with the band revealed that not only had they lost or destroyed the samples of a lot of their older material…but that they’d actually forgotten the words to some of their fans’ favorite songs. So, if you really liked that one song off of Sung Tongs and couldn’t wait to see it live…you’d probably have to keep waiting.

Yet, based on their performance Sunday night, Avey Tare, Panda Bear and Geologist appear to have thrown some of this dogma out of the window. Although they played one unreleased track, “Blue Sky,” and added in some unfamiliar harmonies, the set was decidedly Merriweather Post Pavilion heavy. Furthermore, those older tracks that they don’t play…they played. By the time they hit MPP standout “Summertime Clothes,” they’d already opened with “Chocolate Girl” off of Spirit They’re Gone, Spirit They’ve Vanished and played Sung Tongs’ sentimental favorite “Who Could Win a Rabbit?” It was played in the style of Merriweather Post Pavilion, but it was still Who Could Win a freaking Rabbit, which I’d been under the impression that they didn’t play anymore. 

Then there was the onstage chemistry. When they made it to Chicago off of the Strawberry Jam tour, the songs were inarguably fantastic but the three members of the band all seemed to be in different places and on different agendas, and the set had lived or died by the energy of Avey Tare. Sunday night, all three of them seemed to be on the same page. Geologist was the most energetic body on the stage, with his bobbing upper body moving almost as quickly as his fingers, and all three seemed to be having fun onstage. Avey Tare made the comment that they like playing small shows and, although the small Ottobar stage seemed to limit the amount of open space between all of the tables, light fixtures and drums, no one ever appeared cramped.

ac5Grouper, their opener for the remainder of the American tour had a show in Portland on Sunday night, we got Daniel Higgs as an opener. It’s definitely easy to see the vocal lineage between Higgs and Avey Tare as Higgs’ harrowing voice filled the room. His first track (which he said actually had about twenty more verses) lasted roughly fifteen minutes and had him solely on a squeezebox. It was enough for the people in the first fifteen rows who remained silent throughout his set, and actually told people to shut up as the crowd closer to the bar ignored the freak-folk local. 

People were not so quiet during the Animal Collective set. The crowd got progressively bouncier throughout the set and the sing-alongs started as early as “Leaf House,” but truly reached fever pitch at set closer “Brother Sport.” By the time they closed out the encore with “My Girls,” the crowd erupted into a dance party that looked akin to a drum circle in the middle of the floor…and lasted far after Animal Collective had left the stage. Everyone seemed to understand that the band had outgrown the confines of the Ottobar and that shows this intimate probably wouldn’t happen again in the near future. 

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5 Responses to “Live Review: Animal Collective, Daniel Higgs @ the Ottobar (2009.05.09)”

  1. Alex Mudge says:

    What? No Grouper? I woulda been more interested to see her.

  2. Greg Szeto says:

    psh, says you.

    my love of lungfish will always make me want to see dan higgs.

  3. Faithdesired says:

    Grouper was great (IMO)
    Only thing was… I was so tired and the music was so relaxing that it was putting me to sleep (in a GOOD way… not a boring way!) I took some photos that turned out quite nicely…

  4. Yeah, when I saw Grouper in DC she was fantastic. She probably would’ve been better suited for the Ottobar than she was for the 9:30 Club, but still mesmerizing.

  5. Alex Mudge says:

    Yea, I didn’t mean to imply she is better than Dan Higgs, just that I’ve seen him play plenty.

    There is also a huge buzz generating around Grouper–I wanna to see for myself if she is the real deal.

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