The whole thing smacked of the academic, smugly artistic and the downright confused; so much so that we went early, a course of events unimaginable to us earlier in the day.
Animal Collective – Melkweg, Amsterdam 10/07
Animal Collective have long been championed by us, (whatever that's worth) and since their last, utterly brilliant, psychotic show in 2005, when guitars were flung about, lights were blinding and the songs were screeched out with a snarling abandon, we've been on tenterhooks about possible live dates.
So how do I break this gently? This time around, despite high expectations (and us championing their latest LP Strawberry Jam with the same fervour we gave to their previous LPs) I'm sorry to report the show was a band ‘un. Worse, I can confirm it was by far the most bloody boring gig I have been to in ages. Let me set the scene before drawing this review mercifully to a close.
We were a bit nervous to see two synths opposite each other, bridged by a lot of diverse instruments (cow bells etc) and not a drum kit in sight. Now this is all very well if you put on a show, and "project your personality" but Animal Collective are, at their best a band who rely on mystique. For that (in my humble opinion) you need a three dimensional sound and a fair bit of mobility on a stage. What we got was two of the band stuck behind the synths and singer Corey lost in the middle. There was little to suggest that his self effacing presence would be able to shine in the no-mans land between the synths, despite experimenting with lots of guitar pedals and odd instruments. Everything felt like a long studio jam session that never got out of second gear rather than a concert. Oh, and with so many lights obscuring the band it felt that there wasn't much point in actually being there at all.
However what really hurt, what really made me think that Bastards HQ had won the day was the music. Despite a snatch of Peacebone, we got a pretty never ending synth jam in the Klaus Schultze style albeit pretty much shorn of Schultze's glitzy outrageousness. The whole thing smacked of the academic, smugly artistic and the downright confused; so much so that we went early, a course of events unimaginable to us earlier in the day.
What else to say? Bloody disappointing.
Words: Richard Foster